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Number of uninsured drivers involved in accidents soars in France

We explain what victims need to do to make a claim in such a case

The risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver has risen in France Pic: Southworks / Shutterstock

The number of cases of uninsured drivers involved in road accidents in France has risen by 44% in five years, a victims’ association has warned. 

The Fonds de garantie des victimes [victims’ fund, FGAO] association announced the figure as part of a new awareness campaign, from a report published on Wednesday, June 7.

The campaign’s slogan is: ‘Rouler sans assurance est le pire des paris (Driving without insurance is the worst of bets)’.

The association said: 

  • Half of uninsured drivers are aged less than 30

  • More than 40% of these uninsured drivers under 30 do not even have a driving licence

What is the FGAO?

The fund helps to compensate victims of road accidents in the event that the other driver does not have insurance. 

It recovers money from the uninsured perpetrators of accidents, plus 10%. In 2022 alone, it pursued 15,000 drivers for compensation running to several hundred thousand euros.

That year, the number of victims of road accidents using the fund’s services rose by 3.5% year-on-year. It compensated 8,443 victims, and the families of 157 people who lost their lives in accidents, to the tune of €107million. This was significantly more than the 2021 figure of under €80million.

What can I do in the case of an accident with an uninsured driver?

To use the services of the FGAO: 

1. Confirm who is responsible

The FGAO does not take on your case automatically, nor does it compensate you for any damage if you were found to have been the cause of the accident.

It will not pay out to anyone who is considered to be responsible, nor their spouse or family members, even if they are negatively affected. 

2. Prove that the other driver is uninsured, and identify them

To use the FGAO, you must be the victim of the accident, and prove that the other driver is not insured - or at least, make sure that your insurance company does so.

The FGAO states on its website: “Most vehicle or multi-risk home insurance policies contain a defence or legal protection cover that requires the insurer to take care of the formalities with the FGAO, and allows the victim to be assisted, if necessary, by a doctor or lawyer.”

If you or your insurance company contacts the FGAO, and you can show that the other driver is identified and uninsured, the fund will compensate you for any material or bodily injury and damage.

3. If they are unidentified…

The case is more difficult if the other driver is unknown.

Bodily harm will be covered, but material damage is only covered if you or someone close to you requires admission to hospital as a result of the accident. 

The hospital visit must last more than seven days, and cause one of the following:

  • Temporary, total incapacity that lasts at least one month

  • A permanent functional impairment of at least 10%

  • The death of a person

4. Ensure you are not entitled to any other insurance or funding

You must also show that you are not eligible for any other compensation as a result of the accident (other than that provided by the FGAO). 

Other possible sources may include: 

  • Damage insurance for your car

  • Social security 

  • The insurance company, for your injuries. 

If one of these organisations is able to intervene, the FGAO will only pay the necessary supplement. 

It is limited to a payment of €1.22million for material damage. However, there is no cap on the amount available for personal injury.

5. Request help from the FGAO as soon as possible

You can do this by filling in the form on the FGAO website.

6. In the meantime, gather your documentation.

Your file should include:

  • A form of ID

  • A statement from police attesting to the accident

  • Any other document that confirms the nature of the accident

  • Medical certificates describing any injuries, or proof of medical bills

  • Documents showing loss of revenue

  • An expert report showing the material damage and the estimated cost

  • Proof of your car insurance policy

  • Proof of any other compensation you may be eligible for, if any.

Read also: France driving: What must residents and visitors carry in their cars?

To be eligible for compensation from the FGAO, there are other criteria too. 

The accident must:

  • Involve a vehicle that must be insured to be on the roads

  • Involve a person or animal on the public road network (accidents that take place on private property are not eligible)

  • Have taken place in France or in a country that is not a member of the European Economic Area. If the accident takes place in an EEA country, the Bureau Central Français will take charge of the compensation instead of the FGAO.

In the case of an accident involving a moped, to receive FGAO funding, the victim must: 

  • Be French

  • Have their main residence in France 

  • Be a national of an EEA member state or be a national of a member state of a reciprocal agreement with France.

In the case of an accident caused by a person or an animal, including a wild animal, the victim must: 

  • Be French 

  • Have their main residence in France

Read also: What should you do if your vehicle breaks down on a French motorway?

What does the law say about vehicle insurance in France?

Insurance is legally required for: 

  • Cars (private, commercial and including those which do not require a licence), tractors and agricultural machinery

  • Two- or three-wheel vehicles (motorbikes or scooters) and quad bikes

  • Ride-on lawnmowers with a driving seat

  • Electrically-assisted bicycles (vélos à assistance électrique, VAE) with power exceeding 250w, or whose speed exceeds 25km/h 

  • Motorised personal mobility devices (engins de déplacement personnels motorisés, EDP), electric scooters, mono-wheelers, gyropods, and hoverboards.

Read also: Delay in phasing out green insurance tickets on cars in France

What do you risk if you drive without insurance?

The sanctions depend on the seriousness of the offence and its consequences.

Legal consequences

Driving without insurance is a crime, and a first-time offence can be punished by a fine of €3,750. Police can also require the driver to pay an extra fixed fine of €500, which can be reduced to €400 if paid within 15 days, or increased to €1,000 after 45 days.

In the event of a second offence (or more), the fine can reach €7,500, plus extra penalties such as having your licence suspended or cancelled, and being banned from retaking your driving test. 

Your vehicle may also be confiscated. 

Financial consequences 

Without insurance, the person responsible for the accident is not eligible for compensation for their own injuries or material damage. 

They will also be liable to reimburse the FGAO for any money spent on compensating the victims of the accident. The money may be paid back on a monthly instalment plan, which could run for the rest of your life, depending on the amount owed. 

Read also

Nearly 30,000 people victims of uninsured drivers in France in 2020

First group-buy car insurance deal launches in France

French consumer bodies launch cheaper car insurance group buy offer

Resident or second-home owner in France?
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