How to set up your home and car insurance in France

How to set up your home and car insurance in France

Thinking of moving to France? Make sure you make home and vehicle insurance top of your to-do list before starting your French life

Home and contents

Home and contents cover comes in various packages. Extra options are available to cover ither items such as jewellery, valuable belongings, swimming pools, that little garden that belongs to you down the road or your garden equipment.

• Holiday home/secondary residence: Public liability insurance is obligatory when insuring your French property and is always included in your home and contents cover. Public liability on a secondary residence will usually cover damage caused by the property to a third party. For example, a plant pot falls from your upstairs windowsill and falls onto the head of a passer-by causing injury. Home and contents insurance can range from ‘wear and tear’ to ‘new for old’ – you choose. Unlike the insurance policies you may already be used to, contents cover forms an integral part of a house insurance contract; it cannot be removed from a policy and is not sold separately.

• Rental property: If you are purchasing a property to rent out for short-term holiday lets, your public liability cover would normally continue under the condition that the tenants at the property do not stay longer than three consecutive months. In the event of a long-term let the property will need to be insured by you ‘the landlord’ to cover the buildings and your public liability, and on a separate contract via your tenants for their contents and public liability.

• Main residence: Those of you making a permanent move to France will need a complete home and contents cover with full public liability included. Think about any extra cover you may need if your home has been previously used just for holidays. Maybe you’ll need to increase contents cover, insure precious items, jewellery or artwork. You may now have invested in a ride-on lawnmower or be building a pool. Are you extending or renovating the property, adding extra rooms? Don’t forget to mention all this when changing or putting a new policy into place with your insurer. And remember, accidental damage cover is not included in French home and contents insurance, so if you spill a glass of wine over your new carpet you can’t make a claim!


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If your main residence is in France and you have a vehicle such as a car, small van (private use only) or motorbike, insurance is obligatory. You can choose from third party to fully comprehensive cover, which will include public liability and driver protection cover.

If your vehicle is registered in the UK, you will need to contact your local préfecture who will advise you of the process required to change your registration and number plates to the French equivalent. The simplicity of this process can vary depending on the make, model, age and country of origin of your vehicle.

While your vehicle is still registered on UK number plates, a French insurer will normally give you a grace period to get yourself registered correctly in France. Speak to your insurer about this as soon as you can to be sure of the terms of cover, in order that your cover does not abruptly come to an end, leaving your vehicle uninsured.

You may wish to leave a vehicle at your French residence even if you’re only there during holidays. Don’t be mistaken in thinking insurance is not needed on your vehicle when it’s locked away in the garage during your absence. It is possible to opt for a minimum level of insurance that includes fire and theft during your absence. You can then increase cover to fully comprehensive when in France and driving your vehicle regularly.

Other vehicles such as boats, ride-on lawnmowers and scooters also require their own cover if kept at your French residence.

Think about asking for a quote when you are insuring your main belongings, otherwise in the event of burglary or fire these items will not be covered.

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