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Should I take out compulsory or voluntary insurance?

Discover our detailed guide for compulsory and voluntary insurance options, as well as how to take out insurance and compensation terms

7 min read

Are you lost in the French insurance matrix? Fear not––we’re here to help! We’ve created a handy guide to compulsory and voluntary insurance to help you sort through the wide range of options available.

Compulsory insurance

Did you know that French law requires you to take out certain insurance policies? Insurance contracts throughout the country are governed by the Civil Code and the Insurance, Mutual, and Social Security Codes––so you know you’re in good hands when it comes to protection. If you’re not sure what types of insurance is compulsory in France, read on to learn everything you need to know to get covered properly. 

Health insurance

Everyone living in France is required to have comprehensive health insurance, either with the public Assurance Maladie or with a private provider through their employer, such as the Mutuelle Santé Agricole insurance. Compulsory, universal health insurance ensures that you have access to quality healthcare by reimbursing a portion of the costs.

Liability insurance

Liability insurance allows you to provide people with compensation if you involuntarily cause them damage, whether bodily, material or immaterial. Strictly speaking, liability insurance is not compulsory, although some professions require you to be insured (law, medicine, construction...) as well as practicing certain sports or taking part in certain hobbies. If you have comprehensive car or home insurance, read your policy carefully, as it's very likely that liability is included.

Housing insurance for tenants and co-owners

Housing insurance is compulsory for:

  • Tenants, regardless of whether the rental property is furnished or unfurnished
  • Co-owners

Only homeowners are not required to take out housing insurance, although it’s highly recommended that they do. What’s more, housing insurance for landlords isn’t compulsory unless the property is co-owned. However, there is one mandatory insurance in this category––public liability against rental risks. This insurance provides protection in the event of damage caused to the property in the event of negligence or recklessness by the tenant, as well as fires, explosions, or water damage caused by the tenant.

Insurance companies offer a wide range of housing insurance policies that offer different levels of coverage.You may want to opt for comprehensive home insurance (MRH) which offers optimal coverage, such as insurance against theft or accidental furniture damage, as well as third-party protection.


Automobile and motorcycle insurance 

Any owner of a motor vehicle needs to have insurance, even if the vehicle is not in use. The minimum compulsory auto insurance is third-party liability coverage, also known as third-party insurance. This offers protection in the event of unintentional damage, such as in the event of an accident. Comprehensive insurance or insurance including theft, fire, or broken glass is optional––but worth considering if you drive a lot or don’t have access to a garage.

Structural warranty insurance

Planning to build or renovate your home? Be aware that you’ll need to get structural warranty insurance before starting any construction. If you’re hiring a contractor to do the work, don’t forget to check that they’re covered by the ten-year guarantee.

A structural warranty pre-finances repairs of defects or poor workmanship that threaten the structural soundness of your home or prevent you from living there while you’re waiting on a court ruling of a lawsuit against a contractor.

Professional insurance cover

Since 2016, private companies have been required to offer employees supplementary health insurance, known as mutual collective. However, depending on your situation and the company you work for, you may not be required to sign up for this.

Certain regulated professions, such as construction, legal, medical, and tourism professionals are required to take out professional insurance. Find the full list here (in French): https://www.auto-entrepreneur.fr/actualite/auto-entrepreneurs-assurance-obligatoires-facultatives/

Voluntary insurance

The following types of insurance aren’t compulsory. However, some of them may be helpful to have, depending on your professional or personal situation, or future plans.

Mutual health insurance

Supplementary health insurance, along with health insurance offered by private companies, isn’t mandatory. However, it is strongly recommended for covering certain medical expenses that are often not fully covered by the health insurance, such as dental, vision, and hearing coverage.

Borrower’s insurance

Borrower’s insurance, also known as loan insurance, covers outstanding debt in the event of death, disability, or loss of employment. This type of insurance is optional, but banks require it in order to approve a loan.

School insurance

School insurance—who knew there was such a thing? From a legal point of view, school insurance is optional. However, this insurance may be required for extra-curricular activities or if your child receives school meals. Find more information on the Government website (in French): https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1871 

Life insurance

Life insurance is a supplement to the compulsory health insurance scheme, and covers the following:

  • Death
  • Disability
  • Inability to work

In the event of long-term illness or disability, this type of insurance is a supplement to the allocations paid by social security. In the event of your death, life insurance pays out an annuity or one-off payment to your beneficiaries. You can also include funeral insurance in your plan to fund the costs of your funeral.

Travel insurance

When deciding whether you need to take out travel insurance, two factors should be taken into account:

  • Geographical location
  • Length of your trip
  • Duration of your trip 

For the geographical location of your trip, be aware that within the European Economic Area and in Switzerland, medical costs are covered by the social security system as long as you have a European health insurance card––which you should request before traveling. However, it might be a good idea to take out an additional travel insurance when traveling outside the EU, especially in countries where healthcare is expensive, such as the United States. While it’s not compulsory in France, some countries, including China, Russia, Cuba, and Algeria, require proof of insurance to issue a tourist visa.

For trips lasting less than 90 days, a Visa, Mastercard or American Express card includes basic travel insurance, generally including repatriation. High-end bank cards, such as Visa Premier or Mastercard Gold, offer more comprehensive insurance. Your home insurance may also include liability and coverage for medical expenses abroad.

For trips lasting longer than 3 months, we strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance. This usually covers:

  • Medical expenses abroad
  • Repatriation
  • Liability

Payment methods insurance and insuring other items

Wondering if your keys, identity papers, or bank card are insured against loss or theft? The voluntary payment methods insurance––generally offered by your bank when you order a credit card––provides you with compensation in the following cases:

  • In the event of a fraudulent use of your means of payment
  • In the event of loss or theft of your identity papers or keys
  • In the event of cash theft

Again, your comprehensive home insurance may cover these losses, so read your contract carefully. Ditto for your mobile phone. Remember that you can include your personal items in your home and automobile insurance contracts.

How do I file a claim?

Ready to file a claim? Here’s all the important info you’ll need:

  • Declare the damage (usually by phone) within 5 days for a claim, within 2 days for a theft, and within 10 days of the recognition of a natural disaster in the “Journal-officiel” for public announcements.
  • Send a claim letter (registered with acknowledgment of receipt) including your contact details, insurance number, description of the claim including the date and time, an estimate of the damage (bodily or material), and a description of any damage caused to third parties as well as their contact details.
  • Attach the requested supporting documents, including an accident report or filing of a complaint if necessary (for a car accident or theft), invoices, photos, or any evidence that enables an estimate of the value of the damaged or stolen goods.

Also, remember to store damaged items and don’t make repairs until you’ve received a visit from the insurance company’s inspector.

Want to attest your insurance company’s decision? You’ll need to send an insurance claim letter. Find out more in this article (in French): https://www.abe-infoservice.fr/vos-demarches/formuler-une-reclamation-aupres-dun-organisme/assurance-comment-regler-un-litige 

How to take out compulsory or voluntary insurance

Compulsory or voluntary insurance can be taken out through different organizations:

  • Insurance companies (home, auto, life, structural, etc.)
  • Banks (travel insurance, payment methods)
  • Health insurance providers

You can ask a broker to find the cheapest deal that meets your insurance needs. Your contract will come into effect after you’ve completed a declaration form, allowing the insurance provider to determine the risk incurred to cover you. This stage will determine the cost of your policy.

Discover N26 premium accounts and insurance offers

N26 makes life easier with a 100% mobile service that simplifies how you bank. Plus, did you know that our premium N26 Metal account includes several insurance options? Manage your account and policies right your app. An N26 Metal Premium Account includes:

  • Mobile phone insurance, in case your phone gets stolen or damaged
  • Self-service car rental insurance and car rental insurance abroad, including electric scooters and bicycles
  • Travel insurance, including emergency medical cover, flight delay insurance, delay or loss of luggage, trip cancellations or changes to your stay
  • Pandemic insurance coverage

Discover our premium offers in detail here: https://n26.com/en-eu/travel-insurance

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