Assurance française

So this is how screwed up insurance is in France. I bought my car insurance through BNP Paribas, and like all good insurance sellers they increase the premiums each year hoping you won’t notice. If you do notice and query it, they shrug their shoulders and say “that’s just the market”. Sometimes they’ll even throw in some nonsense such as “but there have been more thefts this year”, as if the doozy you’re talking to would know that.

Anyway, after 4 years of this I got fed up and decided to change. Changing insurance companies in France is rather difficult, made deliberately so by the insurance companies. It has got a bit easier recently thanks to the Hamon Law which aimed at doing away with anti-competitive practices. However, it’s still not straight forward. When you sign up with the new company they contact your old company and cancel your agreement with them, but they then ask you to obtain two documents from your old company:

– An information statement listing any accidents the driver’s had while insured, or lack thereof.

– Confirmation the insurance has been cancelled, or the reason why the request was refused.

I immediately asked for these from my previous insurer, who didn’t bother replying. I asked BNP Paribas, who shrugged their shoulders. I dug around and found that unless you send the request by recorded delivery, the insurance companies refuse to comply. I also found out BNP contracts their insurance to an outfit called AVANSSUR, a subsidiary of Axa, whose address is at 48 Rue Carnot. My new insurance company – Direct Assurance – told me I should ask them for my documents, and they have a legal obligation to provide them within 15 days. Unless they come tomorrow, which is unlikely, I will not be getting them in that time period. So I went to advise Direct Assurance that I’m having no luck getting these documents, and somehow I discover they are also a subsidiary of Axa, their address is 48 Rue Carnot, and:

AVANSSUR is a subsidiary of AXA that operates under the Direct Assurance brand.

In other words, I’ve saved myself 30% on my insurance by switching contracts within the same company and I’m waiting for them to send me documents which they are asking to see. What makes it more amusing is that, in order for the new company to cancel your contract with the old one, you give them the policy number and all the details. So they know they’re dealing with themselves, but I’m still getting emails reminding me I’ve not sent my documents and advising I write to them tout de suite.

Welcome to France. Happy New Year, folks!


23 thoughts on “Assurance française

  1. I have to admit, Britain is rather good at this sort of stuff. Competitiveness is baked into the system and enforced by regulators rather well. I changed broadband provider last month; the process was seamless. I change car insurance nearly every year without fuss; same for energy providers. Even buying & selling property is easier and cheaper (in terms of transaction costs) in the UK than in most parts of the world; and renting is dead easy, as long as you can afford it.

    There’s certainly a lot we take for granted.

  2. In Australia, Suncorp has a similar situation with a huge number of brands competing with each other. The consumer often doesn’t realise they are switching to the same company but conversely, Suncorp isn’t often that smart about it either.

    The costs and process to switch are far simpler than the French version though.

  3. Ever get the feeling that Kafka was the consultant for constructing much of our modern world…?

  4. When we’ve swapped car insurance (in the UK) between brands, say Elephant, Admiral or Hastings, in the past, the underwriter remains the same quite often.
    Although there’s none of this pissing about getting documents together from one to the other.

  5. I’ve insured for the last 3 years with Tesco. Each time I’ve renewed, I’ve gone via comparison sites – it’s always beaten their official renewal price by at least £100.

    They then make me log onto an online secure area, download from one policy my proof of no claims, and upload it to the new policy (all while logged in as the same user – I.e. They know both policies belong to the same driver).

    They also do other sneaky things – I have a bangernomics approach to motoring, and regard my cars as essentially worthless – therefore I would insure TTFT, except this is now never cheaper. What is cheaper is to go fully comp and have an excess about the value of the car. I experimented with altering the value of the excess this year – it could be adjusted in £50 increments, apart from a final increment of £25, at about £1100 of excess.

    As one might expect, every £50 added to the excess knocked about £20 off the premium, pretty linearly – apart from the last £25, which rather than reduce the premium, actually added about £150. Clearly they were making a significant amount of loot out of people who just selected the maximum excess without trying other values.

    I’d rather deal with card sharks frankly (and don’t get me started about the saga I had over my no claims, because one insurance company had recorded a ticket on the date of offence, and one on the date of conviction (it was an up in front of beak job, six months after the deed).

  6. You think that’s tiresome? Try getting a social security number and a carte vitale as self-employed in France.

    UK is cracking down on abuse of NI numbers, which used to be the first portal for an illegal immigrant to get a history, so a bank account, etc.
    Trouble is, they’re doing it in a cack handed way, as usual.
    If you’re 15 and in school in the UK you get an NI number automatically. But if you were in school abroad at age 15 you have to apply, which takes lots of documentation before you can have the pleasure of waiting two or three months.

  7. In Spain I change the insurance company for the car and motorbikes nearly every year. The process is relatively painless, but they still try to stuff you by sending the renewal after they’ve taken the money out of your account. I just contact the broker and ask for something cheaper which is usually found. Then it’s on to contact the bank and get them to reverse the automatic withdrawal which results in a sad letter from the previous insurer mixed with some legal gobbledygook smelling of a useless vague threat.

    Works though.

  8. Would you like to change mobile phone provider in Germany?

    Of course, you are more than free to do so at the end of your contract – and take your number with you, for a nominal fee of around €20. Which is approximately covered by the “welcome” bonus new providers pay to you for switching.

    Except if the new provider is one of the other 60 brands that your provider provides. In that case, said provider will not let you take your number from one brand to another brand.

  9. @Andrew M on December 31, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    +1 We justifiably complain about Gov’t & Private hinderances, but compared to most, inc USA, we still “despite EU” have a better and more competitive economy

    Except: Bias, Corruption & Coercion: Why The BBC Must Be Denationalised

    From vid:
    Q: “What does the BBC give us for the licence fee?”

    A: “News, Sport, Drama, Science (ha ha: RICL E2*), Docus, Comedy, Radio”

    Ah, OK. Same as Sky, ITV, LBC, Capital, Quest et al who we aren’t forced to “pay or else”

    *RICL E2
    Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2018 Who Am I – 2. What Makes Me Human

    Prof Alice Roberts:
    00:38:43 “By a million years ago, our ancestors had controlled fire.”

    Ahem, Humans have existed for ~160,000 years iirc a million years ago was still during Dinosaur period

    BBC can’t even do science now. As for Alice & her GF’s dress sense and childishness – abysmal.

  10. I suppose in France you are at ever increasing risk of having your car torched. That must have an impact upon insurance costs.

  11. Add seamless insurance transfers to the the list of yellow vest terms.

    And a very Happy New Year to you and all of your readers.

  12. We are with Direct Assurance for our two cars and have found their service to be fine. Had a minor no-fault fender bender and they sorted the repair quickly and without hassle. I guess with these internet-only companies if you try to do something outside their normal procedures you can have problems (had that with Red by SFR).

    And Happy New Year!

  13. I had to get car insurance the other day, had last had a policy over 2 years ago and Admiral were willing to count my previous no claims bonuses which was good of them.

    As for bureaucratic nightmares, try transferring money overseas from a Japanese bank…

  14. Matrick: “I suppose in France you are at ever increasing risk of having your car torched. That must have an impact upon insurance costs.”

    Not if Homo Erectus does it. Other primitives –yes very likely a premium booster.

  15. @MyBurningEars on December 31, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    The use of “ancestors” is disengenuous, especially when addressing children. Ancestor is perceived by most as their human forebears, not a member of a different species or subspecies.

    I stand by my initial post. Roberts was misleading children who will now believe Humans have existed for at least 1 million years.

    “Ahem, Humans have existed for ~160,000 years iirc a million years ago was still during Dinosaur period” and concluded that “BBC can’t even do science now.”

    Note the iirc, it was a guess not a fact.

    As for dinos – aren’t birds dinos in Alice terminology?

  16. Ancestor is perceived by most as their human forebears,…

    I don’t really see that. If the quote had been “500 million years ago our ancestors emerged from the sea to live on land…” it wouldn’t invite anyone to assume that those ‘ancestors’ were anatomically modern humans, would it? I don’t think on hearing that anyone would assume that humans had existed for 500 million years.

  17. Try changing money to get Naira out of Nigeria. That’s a hoot. I gave up completely on the official methods and went to a bloke in the car park of the EKO Hotel when I needed to empty my personal account when leaving for good. Got a good rate. Counted sterling cash out and shook hands. Entered the UK with over £8,000 in cash in my pocket.

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