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Motor vehicle insurance is mandatory for all motor vehicles. On the other hand, you have the choice between a minimum cover, called third party, or broader protections, up to all risks. Guarantees, deductible… Our explanations.
Car insurance: what is the minimum compulsory cover?
To travel on public roads with a car or any other motor vehicle, the law requires obtaining a driving license and insurance for the vehicle used. More specifically, the minimum cover imposed by the Insurance Code (article L211-1) is the civil liability cover. This mandatory warranty covers the person driving the vehicle against damage caused to others, other vehicles or any other property.
The absence of cover therefore constitutes an offence: the lack of insurance is liable to a fine of 3750 euros and additional penalties (suspension of licence, confiscation of the vehicle, etc.). The fixed fine for a first finding of driving without insurance is 500 euros. To prove the existence of insurance, the insurance certificate (the green sticker) must be affixed to the windshield of the vehicle, or in a visible manner on a motorized two-wheeler.
Driving without auto insurance: the numbers
More than 65,000 offenses for lack of insurance were recorded in 2020 according to the National Interministerial Observatory for Road Safety (ONISR). A figure down 28% over one year. In 2018, the Compulsory Damage Insurance Guarantee Fund (FGAO) estimated that more than 750,000 cars (excluding two-wheelers), or 2% of the car fleet, were traveling without insurance.
In the event of an accident without insurance, it is the FGAO which compensates the victim, but this compensation fund will then claim full reimbursement of compensation from the offending driver. In 2020, the FGAO thus took charge of more than 27,000 people who were victims of road non-insurance and received around 106 million euros in compensation.
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Third-party car insurance
This mandatory minimum cover, the civil liability only, corresponds to the so-called third-party insurance. With third-party insurance, you are guaranteed against damage caused to others: an injury caused by a pedestrian, damage caused to another vehicle, damage to a building caused by your vehicle. However, in the event of an accident, this guarantee does not cover damage to your car, nor your medical expenses in the event of injury. If you are the victim of an accident with another vehicle, it is the faulty driver’s insurance that compensates you.
Most often, if you do not wish to take out all-risk insurance, insurers offer the basic offer, to third parties, supplemented by one or more additional guarantees (natural disasters, fire, theft, glass breakage, etc.). In fact, since civil liability coverage alone is relatively rare, the price offered by your insurer for third-party coverage most often corresponds to civil liability plus these few additional guarantees, sometimes called third party+. Third-party insurance is more advisable for old cars or vehicles that have not been used much.
Average price of third party insurance
According to 2020 data from the French Insurance Federation (FFA), single liability cover represents an average premium of 150 euros per year. Third-party cover including the most common guarantees (theft, fire and glass breakage) costs 245 euros per year on average, even if the extreme disparity in prices makes comparison difficult.
All-risk car insurance
This multi-risk contract guarantees all damage suffered by your vehicle, whatever the type of accident, whether you are responsible for the loss or not, or whether the responsible person is identified or not. This contract obviously also includes civil liability, and allows the victim of an accident for which you are responsible to be compensated. The guarantees and deductibles of the all-risk contract may vary according to the insurers. Legally, however, a multi-risk contract must cover the natural disasters and the attacks.
Average price of comprehensive insurance
The average annual contribution for all-risk insurance for a car driven by an individual is 508 euros in 2020 according to the FFA, a rate up by 5 euros over one year. However, this average hides an extreme diversity of prices. Auto insurance premiums are set freely by insurers, based on statistics taking into account the value and characteristics of the vehicle, the geographical area, the use of the vehicle, the age and experience of the driver, his bonus- malus, the guarantees chosen, etc. All-risk cover concerns nearly two-thirds of the French vehicle fleet.
Optional auto insurance coverage
Theft, glass breakage and fire guarantees are most often offered in the basic offer of insurers, third party +. Barring exceptions, they are systematically included in all-risk insurance. In detail, the guarantees all accidents Where collision allow you to be compensated in the event of an accident in which you are at fault. Warranty flight allows you to receive compensation equal to the use value of the vehicle on the day of the theft, according to the terms indicated in the contract, as well as the contents of the vehicle which have been stolen (a valuable item in the trunk for example, without exclusion provided in the contract). Warranty vandalism covers, it, a degradation of the vehicle without attempted theft. Warranty fire provides compensation in the event of fire, but also explosion, lightning or spontaneous combustion of the vehicle. The option broken glass covers damage to the windscreen and, depending on the contracts, to the rear and side windows.
The optional options, offered by default or not in the all-risks contract, are numerous and vary according to the insurers: an option guaranteeing the new vehicle at the purchase price for several months, coverage mechanical failuresWhere engravingwarranty packsWhere forces of nature for undeclared natural events natural disasters, etc.
The driver’s warranty allows him to be compensated if he is injured in a traffic accident for which he is responsible, or without any designated person responsible. The extent of medical costs covered (hospitalization, pharmaceuticals) and other compensation (financial loss linked to sick leave, incapacity) differ according to the contracts. There are two forms of personal insurance: individual traffic cover, which involves lump-sum compensation, or bodily injury cover, providing compensation on a case-by-case basis.
Warranty juridic protection provides legal assistance or even criminal defense in the event of a dispute following a road accident.
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Auto insurance assistance coverage
L’breakdown assistance is very often included in all-risk contracts. Thanks to this cover, the insurer helps you at the scene of the accident: it is the assistance service that contacts a repairman, and the insurer pays for the towing, possibly your accommodation if you are far from your home, or even the loan of another vehicle during the repair. The options linked to assistance are numerous, including the 0 km assistance guarantee for coverage in the event of a breakdown, even at home (and not just from 30 or 50 km as in certain contracts). Please note: the assistance guarantee does not cover repair costs.
Support services may also include medical assistance (sending an ambulance, repatriation, etc.) and a dcs support (transportation of the body, payment of funeral expenses, etc.).
Car insurance assistance guarantee: what exactly does it cover?
Warranty exclusions and deductibles
The insurance deductible refers to a sum of money remaining the responsibility of the insured. For the same insurance policy, the deductible level may vary for each type of claim or for each cover. It is advisable to take an interest in the level of deductible before signing an auto insurance contract, to avoid unpleasant surprises and because it is an important element for calculating the annual premium.
L’disclaimer of warranty refers to circumstances allowing the insurer not to compensate its insured. Driving without a driver’s license is part of the legal exclusions from cover: in this case, the insurer can even request reimbursement of the sums paid to the victims. In the event of drunk driving or too high a blood alcohol level, for example, the compensation of the insured at fault will not be honoured, but the compensation of the victims will be well taken care of.
Certain warranty exclusions are provided for in the general conditions of the insurance contract. For example, the contract may include an exclusive driving clause, which excludes compensation in the event of a claim occurring during the loan of the vehicle. Exclusions can also relate to details. Thus the theft of a telephone from inside the car or the theft of a roof box can be excluded from theft cover. The insurer may refuse compensation for theft if the insured has shown negligence (forgetting to lock the car or the keys in the ignition, for example). And headlights that are not fitted as standard may be excluded from the glass breakage warranty.
LOA car insurance or long-term rental
If you are driving a vehicle on long-term lease (LDD) or lease with option to purchase (LOA), you are certainly not the owner, but you are still under an obligation to insure it. Furthermore, as the lessee of the vehicle, you are contractually bound to return it in good condition, unless you decide to exercise the purchase option. Optimal coverage therefore allows you to avoid excessive penalties in the event of an incident or accident.
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