Compulsory insurance in France reaches across many sectors. Here’s an essential guide to make sure you’re properly insured while living in France.
The French have a more dirigiste approach to insurance than many new arrivals may be used to. Where liability is concerned, for example, you will often need coverage. This guide is designed to offer a complete picture of insurance in France, and to make sure you are properly insured while living in France.
Topics covered in this guide include:
- Overview of insurance in France
- Which insurance in France is legally required?
- Health insurance
- Home insurance
- Insurance for schoolchildren
- Motor vehicle insurance
- Social insurance
- Optional forms of insurance in France
- Life insurance
- Third-party liability insurance
- Legal insurance
- Commercial insurance in France
- Tools for comparing insurance in France
- Useful resources
Find health insurance that’s tailored to you. Groupama provide health insurance for any customer, covering treatments and consultations all over France. They also offer reimbursement for alternative medicine. Visit Groupama online to get a health insurance quote within three minutes.
Overview of insurance in France
France is one of the world’s most developed insurance markets, ranking fifth globally and second in Europe (behind only the UK). The French insurance sector brought in a revenue of €293 million in 2017 and there are 285 insurance companies operating in the country.
The Banque de France regulates insurance in France through the Autorite de Controle Prudentiel et de Resolution (ACPR). Over 260 insurance companies in France belong to the French Insurance Federation (Federation Francais de l’Assurance – FFA).
French residents are legally required to take out a number of different insurances. In addition to this, you can purchase various optional insurances too.
Naturally, there are many companies and policies to choose from. You may contact an insurer online, through a local agent or via a broker. Banks and supermarkets also offer insurance policies. Insurance companies in France include:
You can also check out our directory of insurance companies in France.
Which insurance in France is legally required?
All residents in France need to have health insurance coverage. As of 2016, France’s Protection Universelle Malade (PUMA) has covered residents in the country. This covers expats working in France from their first day, while other legal residents can access state health insurance if they have lived in the country for three consecutive months on a ‘stable and regular basis’.
However, the scheme has its limits. Many expats and French citizens will, therefore, take out top-up private insurance. Large private international health insurance companies which provide coverage packages for expats include:
Get a French health insurance quote today
Whether you rent or own your French home, you must have a home insurance policy before moving in. Around 90% of homeowners in France have a multi-risk policy, but you can also purchase separate coverage. Home insurance should cover:
- Building insurance – covers damage to the building caused by things such as fire, water damage, natural damage, and vandalism. Check individual policies for exact coverage. This is mandatory for renters and those with a mortgage but not for those who own their home outright.
- Public liability insurance – compulsory for all residents to cover their own responsibility for damage to third parties and property. Tenants in rented accommodation will usually need this. It’s possible to purchase this as part of a separate third-party liability insurance, but home insurance packages often include it.
- Contents insurance – optional coverage for personal belongings but often available for a lower premium when included as part of a multi-risk home insurance policy.
- Construction insurance – it is mandatory to insure major construction works carried out on your property by a decennial cover called dommages ouvrage. This protects against defects in the work carried out. Some multi-risk packages offer this. You can also purchase it separately.
Policies can cost from as little as around €100 a year although can rise to
€300-400 depending on property value and extent of coverage. With an expat-friendly insurance broker, you can obtain coverage or helpful advice, often in English. These include Allianz Habitation.
Be sure to read the small print of any policy, especially regarding the excesses you will have to carry and your obligations to protect the property. With some policies, you may need to install an alarm or close shutters at night or during long absences.
Insurance for schoolchildren
Some home insurance policies will automatically cover your liability for any damage or injury your child may cause at school; others will offer this as a separate cover at a nominal premium. In both cases, the insurer will give you a certificate or attestation that the school will ask you for at the beginning of the school year.
While not strictly mandatory for school attendance, you will need this for any activities outside the official curriculum including field trips of any kind as well as extracurricular sports.
Motor vehicle insurance
You must insure all motor vehicles in France for collision liability, even if they are not in use unless all four wheels are removed. Policies are either third-party (tiers collision), third-party fire and theft, or comprehensive (tous risques). Car insurance providers in France include:
Whenever you drive your vehicle, you must carry a document – the attestation d’assurance – which the insurance company issues to prove you are insured. Part of this is a green certificat d’assurance testifying to the validity of your insurance. You must fix this to your vehicle windscreen, so as to be clearly visible.
Your insurer will also issue you with an internationally standard form, le constat amiable, to complete in the event of an accident.
Costs of car insurance in France depend on factors such as vehicle value, the extent of coverage, and driver history. No-claims deductions accrue at the rate of 5% a year and it takes 13 years of no-fault driving to obtain a full 50% no-claims bonus.
This can result in some drivers offering to pay directly for the damage they cause, so as to avoid an increase in the cost of their policy. You should think carefully before accepting such an offer. If the damage is more expensive to repair than the amount you have received from the other party, you will have no recourse to an insurance claim.
Those who are working in France or studying in France have to register for social security payments. Public social security schemes in France cover:
- Sickness, accidents, and disability
- Parental leave
- Family benefits
- Old-age French pensions
- Survivor benefits
Employers normally enroll their employees in a social security scheme. However, self-employed workers need to register themselves into a self-employed scheme. More information can be found in our guide to social security in France.
Optional forms of insurance in France
There are two types of life insurance in France:
- Assurance vie
- Assurance deces
The form of insurance known as assurance vie translates literally as “life insurance”. This refers to a savings program that sets aside and invests money for retirement or other long-term financial projects. It will also pay in case of death before the end of the policy term. Many people take this out as a complementary form of insurance to state-provided social insurance.
Assurance deces translates literally as “death insurance”. However, this is the equivalent of what in many countries is called a life insurance policy. This will only pay a premium to your family in case of your death, linked to loss of earnings.
Assurance décès following an accident only is very cheap (around €20 per month to cover all of the family) but, when death through illness is included, the price is considerably more and takes into account your age and your existing state of health.
If you take out a sizable home-loan with a French bank, you may be required to take out life insurance. This is intended to protect both the bank and your family by paying off the outstanding mortgage in case of you or your partner’s death.
Third-party liability insurance
Third-party liability insurance is a compulsory part of home and vehicle insurance. It is also possible to have separate liability insurance that extends to damage or injury to others caused in other circumstances. For example, if you accidentally damage someone else’s property or if your dog bites someone.
You can purchase liability insurance separately from home insurance and have it cover incidents that occur in the home. The cost of a separate policy is usually around €160 a year.
This optional form of insurance is not as common in France as life insurance or liability insurance. However, with access to legal aid becoming more difficult to obtain, more people are taking out policies to cover legal expenses.
Legal insurance (assurance de protection juridique) covers the costs of legal proceedings in the event of a lawsuit or legal dispute. You can take it out separately or sometimes have it as part of home or car insurance as an add-on.
Commercial insurance in France
If you intend to run a business in France, it is essential that you get the right insurance cover to protect your assets and reputation. Some business insurances in France are mandatory, others optional. The main ones are:
- Business liability insurance – also known as public liability and professional indemnity insurance (l’assurance en responsabilité civile professionnelle). Compulsory for all limited businesses. If you’re a freelancer or sole trader, you might be able to cover your business activities through your personal liability insurance, but you will need to specify your activities and probably pay extra for coverage.
- Premises, equipment, and vehicle insurance – you can take these out as separate insurances or combine them in a multi-risk policy (assurance multi risque et perte d’exploitation). None of these are compulsory for most businesses but highly recommended to protect against theft or damage caused by fire, water, storms, etc.
- Business interruption insurance (assurance perte d’exploitation) – this protects against loss of income, including employee salaries, in the event of the business being unable to operate for a period. Some insurers offer packages where you can combine this with premises, equipment and vehicle insurance.
- Assurance decennale – this is a compulsory insurance for trades such as builder, plumber, and electrician. It covers your work for a period of 10 years against defects affecting the quality.
- Le Lynx – another popular site where you can compare insurances as well as energy providers.
While travel insurance is not a requirement for U.S. citizens traveling to France, there are plenty of reasons you may want to consider coverage. Many travelers to France carry individual health insurance, which may cover some medical expenses depending on the details of the specific policy.Can U.S. citizens get healthcare in France? ›
All expats must register with a primary care physician. You'll need proof of this registration when applying for public health care at your local CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie) office. Once you've been approved, you can apply for your national health insurance card, the carte vitale (green card).What insurance documents do I need in France? ›
It's essential you make sure you pack your driving licence, passport, motor insurance certificate, travel insurance documents, and vehicle registration document (V5C), and have them with you at all times.How much medical cover do I need France? ›
Seeing that France is part of the Schengen Area, any travel insurance you get for your trip to France should be Schengen compliant. As such, it must meet the following requirements: Cover at least €30,000 for emergency medical costs and repatriation. Be valid in the entire Schengen Area.What car insurance do I need to travel to France? ›
Car insurance and motor breakdown
You must have third party insurance cover (a legal requirement) at the least, but it doesn't cover any costs incurred by you as a result of an accident. Make sure your policy is fully comprehensive and that you have your Certificate of Motor Insurance before setting off.
France currently operates on a reimbursement program. Therefore, you pay for the cost of your treatment and then apply for reimbursement. A regular doctor's visit is just 23 Euros and typically 70% of that cost will be returned to you.What if an American gets sick in France? ›
If you do not feel well and you are not sure about the need for hospitalization, you can call a doctor to your home or hotel. The doctor will make a medical check-up and advise to do next. This service is available in almost all French cities and is provided by an organization called SOS Médecins.What happens if I need medical care in France? ›
Call 112 if you need emergency services.
Outside of emergency hospitalizations, you may seek treatment at the public or private facility of your choice. If you see a doctor prior to being hospitalized, your practitioner can recommend a facility that will meet your needs, with consideration for quality of care.
While no system is perfect, Europe's universal health care does mean that everyone is taken care of — including foreigners. So if you get sick or injured while traveling, you will receive treatment, no questions asked.How to get healthcare in France? ›
If you are an EU citizen and have an EHIC card from your home country, you can use this to access France's healthcare system. But if you are a resident or are staying in France long-term, you will need to register with the French social security system and health insurance to access healthcare.
Your "carte Vitale" is your health insurance card and is proof of your entitlement to health care coverage in France.Do I need a health insurance card for France? ›
Is travel insurance mandatory for France? France isn't a country where it's compulsory to have travel insurance to visit but there are always risks associated with travel anywhere and it's important to safeguard against them.Is it worth getting travel insurance for France? ›
Do I need travel insurance for a day trip to France? Yes, even if you're only travelling to France for the day, you should think about getting travel insurance. While you might not need cover for accommodation, there are still other things that could unfortunately go wrong.Can I take my medication to France? ›
If you need medication while in France, remember to bring a prescription with you. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 for an English speaking emergency service and ask for an ambulance.How much international medical insurance do I need? ›
For example, SquareMouth recommends international travelers get around $50,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $100,000 for cruises or travel to remote areas.Does my US car insurance cover me in France? ›
No, your car insurance policy from your home country does not cover you in France. You must purchase a French car insurance policy (minimum third-party liability).What happens if you drive without insurance in France? ›
A driver who does not have motor insurance for the car must pay a fine of EUR 3,750! And that's not all. In addition to the fine itself, the driver may have his driving license revoked or suspended for a period of 3 years including the impounding of the vehicle s/he uses on French roads.Is it illegal to drive without insurance in France? ›
You must insure all motor vehicles in France to at least third party liability. You will need to do this even for vehicles that are not in use, unless all four wheels are removed. Failure to insure a vehicle can lead to fines of up to €3,750.How much does it cost to go to hospital in France? ›
Average cost of an emergency room visit: €100 (£93, US$120, AU$150) without coverage, €10 with coverage. Average cost of a doctor's visit: €23 without coverage, (£20, US$27.5, AU$35) €6.60 with coverage.Are prescriptions free in France? ›
You must have health insurance cover to live in France. State healthcare in France is not free. Healthcare costs are covered by both the state and through patient contributions. These are known as co-payments.
Picking Up Prescription Medicines in France
Once you have seen your doctor or a hospital specialist, if you need prescription medication, they will issue you with a prescription, known as une ordonnance in French. This prescription will detail your required medication and the prescribed dose you must take.
If you are on holiday and need a doctor ask at the hotel, holiday site or a neighbour etc. to give you details or to call a local doctor. You will have to pay for the visit but if you have private healthcare of home state emergency medical cover you will get reimbursed the same as for a surgery visit.Can a pharmacist give antibiotics in France? ›
But even in France, only a doctor can prescribe antibiotics.Do you have to pay for hospital treatment in France? ›
French healthcare costs
Medical treatment and tests are partially paid for by the government, but the patient is responsible for the remaining amount. French state health insurance covers 70–100% of necessary treatments like doctor visits and hospital stays.
France runs a statutory health insurance (SHI) system providing universal coverage for its residents. The system is financed through employee and employer contributions, and increasingly by earmarked taxes on a broad range of revenues.Can I use my US health insurance in Europe? ›
Is US Health Insurance Valid in Europe? No, in most cases, US health insurance is not valid in Europe. Health insurance plans such as Medicare have little to no coverage outside the US.Do US citizens need health insurance in Europe? ›
The U.S. government does not provide medical insurance nor pay for medical bills for U.S. citizens overseas. You should purchase insurance before you travel. Before you go abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas.Is Medicare accepted in Europe? ›
In most situations, Medicare won't pay for health care or supplies you get outside the U.S. The term “outside the U.S.” means anywhere other than the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.Is healthcare in France better than the US? ›
It is probably not a secret to anyone that on various health measures such as life expectancy and infant mortality, the healthcare system in France ranks considerably higher than the United States. In fact, the World Health Organization concluded that France has the world's number one healthcare system.How much does it cost to see a doctor in France? ›
A regular doctor's visit costs between €25 and €50, depending on the doctor's sector and his specialty. To know more about medical costs and reimbursements in France, read French Healthcare: Get the best coverage. Most doctors accept credit cards in France but some don't.
Planning to use the French healthcare system requires you to be paying into the national social security fund. If you are not taking an income in France, you must fill out a Form E121/S1 from the Department of Work and Pensions. Foreign residents of France are also taxed on their retirement income.Is it illegal to not have health insurance in France? ›
Healthcare in France
Health insurance is mandatory for all citizens, whether they're employed or not. France also requires all foreigners or long-term visitors (more than 3 months) to have health coverage.
The health pass is required in the following circumstances:
When entering health care centers, if you come to visit a relative or if you have a scheduled procedure. When crossing a border during a trip from/to France. In some overseas French territories where the use of the health or vaccine pass has been extended.
However, Brazil is the only country in the world that offers free healthcare for all its citizens. Also, Norway is the first country in the world to implement a free healthcare policy as far back as 1912. Coincidentally, Norway is recognized as one of the healthiest countries in the world.What health insurance do you need for a French visa? ›
'For a Visitor Long Stay visa (VLS-T or VLS-TS), an applicant must provide a health insurance for the full duration of the stay. The insurance must cover the visa's entire validity period (1 year at the most). The applicant needs a private health insurance policy covering all medical expenses.Is travel insurance better than health insurance? ›
Travel insurance isn't the same thing as health insurance.
Travel insurance with emergency medical benefits offers just that — benefits for losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies. It doesn't cover preventive, routine or elective medical care.
In 2021, Credit Agricole Assurances had the highest market share in the French insurance industry, followed by CNP and Axa France Assurance.Can I bring Tylenol to France? ›
If you carry medication with you when you travel, the quantity carried must not exceed a personal use corresponding either to the duration of treatment provided for by the medical prescription, or, in the absence of a prescription, to a duration of treatment of three months.Can you buy Xanax over-the-counter in France? ›
Moreover, benzodiazepines cannot be obtained without prescription in France; thus over-the-counter consumption is more restricted than in other countries in which these drugs can be purchased without prescription.Can you buy Tylenol in France? ›
Tylenol. In America we refer to this drug as acetaminophen; however, in France, the technical term is similar to the British, paracétamol. This drug is found under the brand names Doliprane, Dafalgan, and Efferalgan.
For travelers going on a cruise or traveling to remote destinations, Squaremouth recommends $100,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $250,000 in Medical Evacuation coverage due to the potential for high medical costs while traveling.Should I bring my health insurance card overseas? ›
If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, remember to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of insurance and a claim form. Consider buying medical evacuation insurance.What is the difference between travel medical insurance and international health insurance? ›
Travel insurance is designed for holidaymakers to cover cancellations, personal belongings and emergency medical treatment, whereas international health insurance is designed to cover inpatient treatment check-ups and continuing treatment of chronic conditions abroad.Is travel insurance mandatory for Europe? ›
Schengen Visa applicants and holders are required to be in possession of travel insurance throughout their planned stay in Europe and before obtaining a Schengen Visa.Do I need health insurance in Paris? ›
If you are an EU citizen and have an EHIC card from your home country, you can use this to access France's healthcare system. But if you are a resident or are staying in France long-term, you will need to register with the French social security system and health insurance to access healthcare.Will my US health insurance cover me in Europe? ›
U.S. health insurance plans typically do not cover regular and routine medical care required overseas. This means your health insurance won't pay for care if you need to visit a doctor for a prescription medicine, or if you need treatment for a condition that is not considered an emergency.Do you need health insurance to enter Schengen? ›
If you are applying for a Schengen visa, you require special travel medical insurance. This requirement exists whether you are traveling for pleasure or business, in a group or on your own. Travel insurance must be valid throughout the Schengen area and cover the entire period of stay.Do I need extra car insurance to travel in France? ›
You do not require a green card from your vehicle insurer to drive in France, but you must have valid vehicle insurance to drive in France and third-party insurance is compulsory.Can anyone drive an insured car in France? ›
Generally in France, it is the car that is insured with the details of the main driver. Anyone can then drive the car and will benefit from the same insurance as the policy holder. With many companies, if the driver has held a full licence for less than three, years then the excess is different.What if I get sick in France? ›
If you do not feel well and you are not sure about the need for hospitalization, you can call a doctor to your home or hotel. The doctor will make a medical check-up and advise to do next.
The health pass is required in the following circumstances:
When crossing a border during a trip from/to France. In some overseas French territories where the use of the health or vaccine pass has been extended.
American passport holders are not required to obtain a visa prior to visiting France for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.