Third Party Car Insurance: Guarantees and How to Subscribe

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From the moment you decide to start driving in France, you'll need insurance for your vehicle. And while you will have several schemes to choose from, you'll must, at the very least, subscribe to what is known as third-party insurance. Confused? Don't worry! We're we take you through everything there is to know about this particular type of coverage, from its cost to how to subscribe to plan best suited to you.

What is third party insurance?

Also known as civil car responsibility, this insurance covers any material damage you may cause to another person and for which you are held responsible. This is a mandatory and minimal insurance type and thus won't cover damages caused to yourself or your vehicle, meaning that you would have to pay out of pocket any of these issues.

But what if I'm the victim of an accident? Don't worry, you will receive compensation in that case! Here the person responsible will be the one liable to pay for your personal and material damages.

Who is third party car insurance for?

As we've stated above, third party car insurance is the minimal protection you can opt for in France to stay within legality. So while it is often your cheapest insurance option on paper, it's not always the most appropriate scheme for you, and, even worse, you may end up having to pay very high charges in the long run.

Here are the situations in which we would recommend opting solely for third party insurance:

  1. Your car is over 5 years old: in case of a car accident, your insurer will take into account your vehicle's value just before the accident, in order to compensate you through a car with similar value and characteristics (age, features, mileage...) on the second-hand market. So here, no real need to opt for premium insurance if your car is already old.
  2. You only use your car occasionally: thrid party insurance will definitely be enough here. Indeed, the less you use the car, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident! You could also look into mileage-based insurance plans that will be specially adapted to you and work out cheaper.
  3. You're a young driver: third-party insurance, in this situation, will be appropriate in order to help keep your budget in check. If you own a new car, though, multirisk insurance will be your best bet.

What about third-party add-ons?

Third-party insurance schemes are often pretty basic, so it can be a good idea to complete it with custom additional guarantees to cover additional needs fitted to your situation. Here are some of them you may want to consider:

  • A personal guarantee for drivers: this will cover any bodily damages caused to you in an accident
  • A "zero-kilometre" assistance guarantee: this will ensure you get assistance if your car breaks down right where you live
  • A car replacement guarantee: this means your insurer will lend you a car while your own is being repaired
  • A jurisdictional protection guarantee: this will help you cover the costs of a potential law action against you following an accident.

Finding the best value car insurance plan

French car insurance plans vary in price and conditions, making it confusing for clients to understand which deal is going to provide them with the best value for money.

Here are some ways to get the best plan out there.

Looking for a third-party car insurance plan online

Get car insurance quotes: for each provider you are interested in, you go on their website, answer a few questions about your car (type, age, number of drivers...) and situation (occupation, past accidents...) and get an instant and free quote. Repeat for each provider to find out the one who'll offer the best deal for you!

On online car insurance comparison sites: these websites are another fast and free way to get a quote, based on information found on partner insurance providers. You just need to answer a few questions to get a list of quotes from different companies, in a matter of minutes.

French online car insurance quotes are free, quick and easy to get, available 24/7 and commitment-free, so make the most of it!

Looking for a third-party car insurance plan over the phone

If you would rather get a quote by talking to someone over the phone and get all your questions answered, simply contact the customer service of the providers you are interested in. Again, you should get a free and straightforward quote in a matter of minutes.

Looking for a third-party car insurance plan in an agency

You can also go into an insurer's agency and speak to someone in-person to get matched up with the best plan for you. This said, we don't particularly recommend this option for two reasons:

  1. Time lost spent going into the agency and waiting to be seen, compared to the instant online and over-the-phone quotes
  2. You won't get offered as many options as if you got quotes online

Only in France for 10 to 90 days? Opt for temporary car insurance!

Third-party car insurance: how much will it cost?

There's no straightforward answer, as it isn't a one-size-fits-all plan and will take into account various factors personal to you. It will also be more expensive if you add certain services to it such as a specific type of assistance, a car replacement option, legal protection...

As stated above, we encourage you to get a maximum amount of online quotes. Not only will this give you an idea of which plan is the best for you, but you'll also find out which services you should definitely add on and subscribe to the plan there and then if you wish to.

What does third-party insurance cover?

As it is the most basic coverage, you will only get covered for damages caused to others - e.g pedestrians, drivers or passengers involved in the incident. It is the very least you should have in terms of insurance to drive in France, and as said above you'll have to pay yourself for anything that happens to you and/or your car.

Bypassing insurance laws isn't worth it! It might seem tempting to go without insurance, but the consequences don't make the risk worth taking - driving without insurance in France will cost you a €3,750 fine, a community service sanction and maybe even the confiscation of your car.

Subscribing to an online third-party car insurance provider

The benefits of an online plan

While you can also subscribe to an insurance plan over the phone or in an agency, we recommend making the most of online car insurance providers' plans which are becoming increasingly popular these days. Here's why:

  • It's convenient and you'll save a considerable amount of time, as you won't even have to leave your home and can send off all your documents via email.
  • You get coverage instantly and don't have to wait around before using your car
  • You'll get really good deals! As online providers don't have physical agencies to operate, they have far fewer fixed charges to cover, meaning they can generally charge their clients less for premiums.

The documents you'll need to sign up

Prepare to gather the following documents:

  1. Your car's licence certificate, or certificat d'immatriculation de véhicule (formerly known as the carte grise), which will help your insurer calculate your premium thanks to the information it contains (type and power of your car, licence plate, age and date of purchase...)
  2. Your driving licence, mandatory to get insurance and get behind the wheel in the first place
  3. Your information report (relevé d'information), a mandatory document to get insured, which gathers your history as an insured driver (accidents, bonus or malus received, past insurance plans and duration, type of car...)

How to proceed to get started

Once you're set on your provider and offer, you should simply get to the insurer's website and follow the steps until completion of your sign-up form, and that's it! You'll be asked quite a few questions about your vehicle, so do be sure to have all the information in mind.

Just be sure to give the most accurate and honest answers possible so as to get all the coverage you need.