Car insurance is mandatory in France but you may be paying more than you should. Below are six tips to help you save money on your policy.
The average cost of car insurance increased (2.88%) in 2023 with the average motorist now paying €635 a year. Rates vary considerably according to region, policy, driving history and vehicle - but we review six general ways to cut the cost:
1. Make sure the policy suits your needs
The lowest level of coverage, third party, or tiers, insurance is mandatory for all cars. You can get this from €400, with the average cost being around €550.
Remember that this will only cover other people who you injure or whose vehicles or property you damage. It will not cover your own damage or injuries.
More extensive coverage costs more and can cover:
- Treatment for your own injuries
- Damage to your vehicle - even if you are responsible for the accident
- Damage for all accidents - for example, for hitting an animal or suffering vandalism
- Breakdown assistance
- Theft, fire, windscreen repair
- Damage to accessories and the contents of the car
- Legal assistance
- Legal fees
The average cost for full, or tout risque, coverage is €750.
However, you may not require all of this. Consider your own needs and check with your insurer to see how much you can save by reducing options in your policy.
2. Make sure that your insurance history is taken into account
The more safe driving history the insurer knows about, the better. Your insurance should be cheaper if you can prove that you have driven safely for many years.
Some, but not all, French insurers accept information from a foreign insurer about your driving and claims history. This information can help you pay less, since it takes 13 years without an accident to get the maximum no-claims bonus.
Several insurers, such as Direct Assurance, allow you to fit an electronic device in your car to monitor your driving. Each month, these devices give you a score based on your driving and the roads that you use, and adjust your monthly fee accordingly.
3. Remember to shop around
You can change your policy after the first 12 months at any time and at no cost.
This is usually an advantage since it obliges you to look at policy prices from other insurers and see offers that you otherwise may not.
Insurers in France must communicate their information about your driving record, called the relevé d’information, with the new insurer. This means that you will not lose your no-claims bonus by changing insurers.
However, make sure that your new policy is active before driving. Driving without insurance can incur a fine of €3,750
4. Pay annually
While it may seem more convenient to pay for your policy in monthly instalments, it is usually cheaper to pay in advance. This way you can also avoid any extra fees from your bank or credit card provider for multiple transactions.
5. Pay as you drive
Do not pay for year-round insurance if you only use the car for fewer months each year, or for short trips.
Instead, take out a ‘Pay as you drive’ policy, in which the price of insurance is based on the number of kilometres you cover.
Most insurers in France now offer these policies, which require fitting a GPS device in your car to monitor the distance it travels.
There are two different types of ‘Pay as you drive’ policies: Fixed rate and Reduced rate.
- Fixed rate policies: you pay for insurance over a certain annual distance (for example 8,000km). If you go further than this, you will have to pay more.
- Reduced rate policies: your rate is reduced when you drive less.
6. Consider a cheaper vehicle
More expensive models require more expensive insurance and, inversely, cheaper cars have cheaper insurance.
When setting their prices, insurers also consider which models thieves target.
According to the Franco-German car magazine Auto Plus, thieves currently prefer SUVs and hybrids. This year, the the top five stolen are:
- Toyota Rav4 “5”
- Lexus NX
- Audi A3 “3”
- Lexus UX
- Renault Megane 4
Other points taken into account for your policy rate:
Where you live
Insurance costs more in Ile-de-France or in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, where the average annual prices are €730.
In Brittany or in Vendée the average annual price is around €520.
These differences in price are due to both the intensity of traffic in certain regions as well as the risk of theft / vandalism.
You will pay less if you park in a closed garage. The difference in cost between a car on the street and one parked inside comes to an average of €100 per year, which is even more pronounced in urban areas.