Car insurance here and there

New drivers, who’ve had their licence for less than three years, incur extra excess if they cause an accident. So it’s a good idea to check with your insurer before lending your car, because your no-claims bonus could suffer if you claim.

The no-claims system is also quite different in the two countries. When you insure a car in the UK, you only need four years of no claims to benefit from the maximum bonus (65% off the premium).

And you can even protect your bonus from future accidents, by taking out an extra clause, for a small extra cost. If you cause an accident or are involved in a knock-for-knock, and your bonus is not protected, you will lose the entire bonus and have to drive for another four years without claim before you earn the maximum bonus again.

In France, it takes 13 years to benefit from the maximum bonus. The percentage is expressed in decimals so you start with a bonus of 1 (100% of the reference price), and every year of no claims, the bonus is multiplied by a coefficient 0.95. If you do the sums, you will find out that you have to multiply the result by 0.95 thirteen times before reaching 0.50 (50% off the premium), the maximum bonus in France.

If you are responsible for an accident and claim, your accumulated bonus will be multiplied by a coefficient of 1.25. So if you had the 0.50 bonus, the premium will go up to 0.62, meaning a reduction of 0.38 and only 12% extra to pay. It will take you four years to get back to the maximum 0.50 bonus.

The bonus cannot be protected in the same way in France, although some insurers do protect it after you have no claims driving for three years with the maximum 0.50.

If you return to the UK to live, make sure that you get a no-claims bonus certificate from your French insurer, showing the number of insurance years and the bonus rate.

Yet another difference in insurance culture: in France, your no-claims bonus will be transferred from each car that you own and the same noclaims bonus will apply when you buy a second or even a third car. After that, each car will then carry its own bonus and be considered separately according to the claims attached to it.

In the UK, each car has a separate no-claims bonus. If the policy on a car is still valid, the insurer will not issue a no-claims bonus certificate, and can only do so once the policy is cancelled. You cannot benefit from the bonus applying to one car (unless you sell it) if you buy a second or third car.

Very often, UK insurers won’t take over the French bonus, either because the document is in French, or because the policy has not been cancelled yet (in France, no-claims bonus certificates can also be delivered while the policy is still running).

This is why, in our agency, we deliver no-claims bonus certificates for our clients who go back to the UK, translated into English and with explanations on the way the bonus has accumulated over the years.

This article first appeared in the October 29 – November 4, 2010, edition of French Week.

The information provided here is for general guidance. The exact details of your policy will define your legal and contractual obligations. What is written there will take precedence over what is written here.

Ces informations sont données à titre indicatif. Pour connaître précisément vos obligations légales ou contractuelles en relation avec votre contrat d’assurance, veuillez vous référer aux conditions générales et particulières de votre contrat.