How To Change Your French Car Insurance Plan
When you have a car insurance plan for several years, one day you might want to change. Either because you have a new car or you found a better offer, it is sometimes a good idea to change your car insurance plan for a new one.
Selectra gives you some advice on when you are allowed to change your car insurance and why. Here is a guideline that can be applicable to your situation to help you find out how to resign your old plan and subscribe to a better offer. Follow the guide!
Is it mandatory to have a French car insurance plan?
In France, laws and rules have come into force from 1958 to make it mandatory for all drivers to drive an insured vehicle. Therefore, since more than 60 years it is an obligation for all car owners to subscribe to a car insurance plan for their motorized vehicle that, at least, will cover the civil liability.
Indeed, several levels of coverage exist but the basic one will guarantee the risk of damage caused to third parties, and third parties only. That insurance is the minimum coverage that any insurance provider can offer. In case of damages caused to the driver or the insured vehicle, they won’t be covered by the third-party insurance.
Third-party insurance will cover only the risk of damages caused to other people or their goods by the insured motor vehicle or car. In any case, the insured party is covered for damages upon its own goods.
Nevertheless, third party insurance is just the minimum coverage and all insurers offer many other plans and options to fit the driver's needs regarding their specific situation: third party + insurance, all risks insurance, mileage-based insurance…
Why would you change your French car insurance?
As a first and common answer, the price is the principal reason that can lead to a desire for new insurance. But you can also have a change in your life that can lead to different needs such as:
- You sold your car,
- Your premium has increased,
- Your car has been stolen or destroyed,
- Or you just want to change for another offer from another car insurer…
In all cases that may lead you to change your car insurance, make sure that you respect the obligation of notification and the situations that allow you to terminate the car insurance you already have.
When is it possible to change your car insurance?
The basic principle: termination at the annual expiry date
As with other insurances, the basic duration of a car insurance contract is simple: as soon as you sign the agreement, you usually commit to staying with the same insurer and the same conditions until the first anniversary of the contract, also called the first expiry date.
Therefore, you will be covered and committed to paying the premium of your car insurance until the first expiry date, usually one year after the subscription.
Indeed, at each annual expiry date, you will be allowed to terminate your insurance contract. Nevertheless, if you do not ask for the termination to your insurer, the contract will be renewed for one more year.
Thus, if you want so, you are allowed to terminate your car insurance at each annual expiry date and without any kind of justification.
In order to respect the rules of such termination, you have to send a termination notification to your insurer 30 days before the annual expiry date.
Despite this general rule, some specific situations exist and so, some exceptions have been created to give more flexibility to consumers.
In the application of "Chatel Law"
Since a rule called “Chatel Law” from 2005, all insurers have to inform each insured party of his or her right not to renew their insurance. This law gives more rights to consumers in front of professionals (such as insurers) and prevents any automatic renewal of insurances without the knowledge of the insured party.
Such notification from the insurer to the policyholder shall be sent as soon as 3 months before the expiry date and at the latest 15 days before the limit date for termination. If you do not receive the notification or if the notification arrives late, you have up to 20 days from the day of delivery to decide whether or not you want to terminate the contract. Furthermore, if you receive the notification after the annual expiry date, you can terminate the contract at any moment afterwards.
In the application of “Hamon Law"
After Chatel Law and since 2015, it is easier to terminate your car insurance thanks to a law called “Hamon Law’’. These new criteria offer consumers the right to change their car insurance (but also home or motorbike insurance) any time after the first anniversary of their insurance contract.
It has to be done without fees or any penalty and it allows the consumers to look for better offers. In practice, it means that the insured party has to stay committed with the same car insurance provider for one year starting at the subscription date (apart from some specific situations). After the first year, each insured party and car owner is allowed to terminate the contract at any time.
To do so, the request for termination shall be sent with a 30-day notification before the termination is effective. But usually, the new car insurance provider handles all the proceeding of the termination with the previous insurance, as a commercial gesture to facilitate the subscription of your new car insurance.
Any termination at another moment than the expiry date as to be included and written in the general and particular conditions of the car insurance contract. If it is so, all insured party is allowed to terminate its car insurance agreement if he or she respects the specific conditions described hereunder.
Termination because of a change in your personal situation that leads to a change in the risk.
Despite the previous rules described, you can also decide to terminate your car insurance if there is a change in your personal situation that leads to a decrease or increase of the risks. If one of the following changes appears, you have to notify your insurer as soon as possible:
- A marriage;
- A moving to another place;
- A death;
- A professional transfer;
- A loss of professional activity;
- A retirement.
Indeed, all these different situations would lead to a change in your situation and can sometimes lead to a change in the risk covered by the insurance. As soon as you notify your insurer, there are two possibilities:
- The change of situation declared increases the risk: You have to notify your insurer within 15 days of the acknowledgement of the change.
- The insurer can refuse to cover you for this new risk and can terminate the contract or
- The insurer can accept to cover you for the new risk but will offer you a higher premium to cover this wider risk. You have 30 days to refuse such an increase in the price and ask for the termination of the contract.
- The change of situation declared decrease the risk: you have 3 months to notify your insurer and you can ask for a reduction of the price.
- If the insurer refuses, you can terminate the car insurance contract. The contract will be terminated 30 days after the insurer receives termination written notification and he or she will have to reimburse you the difference of the annual premium and the covered and insured time already spent.
- If the insurer accepts, the will be an amendment to the initial contract.
The termination is made without any penalties or fees if you enter one of the different types of situation that allows such termination.
Termination because of a premium increase
As the previous criteria of change of personal situation, if the premium you pay increases based on a unilateral decision of the insurer and without justification, you can ask for the termination of your car insurance contract. Indeed, such modification of your initial conditions leads to a modification of one of the basic conditions of the agreement and allows you to terminate it.
Therefore, the insured party is allowed to ask for the termination of her or his car insurance contract with a 30-day prior notice.
And this termination can be at any time after or before the annual anniversary of the insurance contract.
Termination if your insurer decides to end another of your contracts.
This condition that allows you to terminate your car insurance contract is usually less known than the others. Nevertheless, it shall be kept in mind as many times we do have several insurance contracts with the same insurance provider.
Indeed, if your car insurance provider decides to end one of the other contracts you have with this specific insurance agency (home, motorbike…), you are allowed to ask for the termination of your car insurance contract as well.
This termination also has to be made by written registered letters in order to keep the proof of such request.
Termination if sell or give the insured vehicle
As the car insurance is a link between a car, its owner and the insurer, if the car is sold to another owner, you can ask the insurer to terminate the contract.
And if you sell your vehicle and buy a new one, you can always terminate your previous contract and find a better offer for the new vehicle.
How can you change your car insurance plan?
In order to be able to change your car insurance, you have to follow several steps. Here are the main elements.
Look at your actual offer
The first thing to do is to look carefully to your actual offer and review all the conditions applicable such as:
- The coverage and different guarantee;
- The options you subscribed;
- The exclusions that are mentioned in particular and general conditions;
- The maximum indemnification amounts and deductibles;
- And, of course, the premium.
After this, you will have a large vision of what your car insurance is and you will be able to compare with offers from the market.
Look and compare the offers
No matter the reason for the termination of your car insurance contract, you will need to have another insurance plan provided to cover the risks on your vehicle and others. As a car insurance is a legal obligation for all car owners, even if your car is not used very often, you have to always be covered. Therefore, in all cases, it is always better to have the certainty to have the benefits of an insurance plan after the termination of your previous contract.
As soon as you would like to terminate your car insurance, you should look for other offers of car insurance from other insurance providers but also from your own insurer, as sometimes, offers evolve with time. As usual, in order to find the best deal, there is only one specific rule: compare!
Many different insurers, online or not, have many different offers with different coverage and options. It is always good not to look only at the price but first at your needs and the coverage that would fit your particular situation. Ask for quotes to all the insurers you want or go online on the website of an insurance comparator. Then, with the different quotes received, you will be able to compare the different guarantees and options.
Do not forget to compare also the deductibles and maximum amounts of indemnification as these particular elements may have great consequences on your final choice.
As long as you are covered with car insurance, there is no rush to change, so take your time to make a decision that meets your needs.
Terminate your car insurance contract
If you want to change your car insurance plan, and you already found a new offer to subscribe to, you will have to terminate your actual contract. Two different situations may exist:
- You want to resign in the appliance of Hamon Law, the resignation has to be handled by your new insurer.
- You want to resign because of change in your personal situation that allows such resignation or you want to resign before the tacit renewal. In this case of termination, you have to send a written request by registered letter to the postal address indicated in your insurance contract, inside the general conditions asking for the termination of the agreement.
If you do not find the resignation address on your contract, you can go online on the website of your insurer and will find all the elements regarding the termination, including the address to send your resignation letter.
How can you find a better car insurance offer?
Once you are sure that you want to change your car insurance and terminate the one you have, you have to find another offer that fit your needs. Therefore, in order to find the best car insurance deal for you, here are some tips you can follow.
Ask for quotes online: insurances and comparators
Many different insurers exist and all of them are present online. Besides them, you can also find online insurances sometimes even cheaper and called online insurers.
When you look for a good offer that meets your needs, the best way to find what you are looking for is to ask for quotes and they compare.
You can then:
- Go on the website of each insurer and ask for a quote by entering the required information on your situation and your car or
- Find an insurance comparator which will provide you with several different quotes from insurance partners.
In order to receive several quotes, you need to provide information regarding:
- The car you would like to insure: mark, type, years…
- Your specific situation: who will drive, secondary driver or not, how many kilometres you may drive per year, what is the use of the car…
- The coverage needs.
Ask for quotes by phone
If you feel more comfortable to ask by phone, you can call several car insurers and ask the specific questions you have before they provide you with a quote.
You can also call a comparator that will provide you with several quotes.
Both will ask you for the same information as online but they will also be able to give you fast and precise answers if your situation requires specific needs.
Ask for quotes in agencies
As a final option, you can also find an agency and ask for quotes directly. That might be a good option especially if you want to negotiate with your insurer to add another contract and then request a discount for all of them. It might take more time than online but you will have the opportunity to ask all the questions you want and negotiate a deal if needed.
Finally, with all the quotes you have, you will be able to compare, look for the best coverage, options and premium and decide which insurer you would like to change for.