Consumer bodies advise changing insurance providers every few years to ensure you always get the best deal
Rural France has a network of local insurance agents, often dynamic figures in the community, who have developed strong customer loyalty over the years.
This model is increasingly being called into question, though, with consumer organisation CLCV saying loyalty is never repaid financially by insurance companies.
It recommends that you should change all your contracts at least every four years to ensure that your insurance deal remains competitive.
Caveats with comparison sites
At the same time, the body warns against using internet insurance comparison sites, saying they are often tied into some insurers which they push to the top of the list to get better commissions, and pointing out that many mutual insurance companies are not included on comparison sites.
This warning is rejected by one of the early French comparison sites, LeLynx.fr, which has been going for 14 years and claims it is transparent about its dealing with insurance companies.
Some online policies are stipped-down
Chief executive Itzal Arbide says its figures show that household insurance tariffs are going down for people who are prepared to change insurers, largely due to the arrival of high-tech firms.
“The arrival of ‘insurtechs’ has shaken up the market,” he said.
“They do not have physical offices, all their deals are online or by telephone, and they have a quicker response time, due to the use of computers from the start, than many other insurers.”
He added, however, that the household insurance they offer is often a stripped- down version of traditional policies.
The latter often include cover such as judicial insurance or cheap schools insurance as part of the contract, so buyers must be careful to ensure they cover their needs.
Lelynx shows falling prices
LeLynx’s figures show that in the past five years the average price of household insurance (including both flats and houses) arranged through its site has fallen from €184 to €153 per year.
Nouvelle-Aquitaine was the most expensive region, with an average of €161 a year, due to the risk of Atlantic storms and thunderstorms, which have led to high insurance claims.
Brittany, by contrast, also subject to Atlantic weather but with fewer claims, was the cheapest region at €135 a year.
For many people, though, the service offered by local agents means they are prepared to put up with higher insurance costs – especially as asking for an estimate from an online site can involve at least 10 minutes of form-filling, including answering personal questions and exposing inboxes to spam emails.