An insurance conundrum

Our neighbours were on their way to visit family up north when they were rear ended on the A7 (or 8). They had just overtaken something and were pulling back into the centre lane when a hulking great Mercedes SUV whacked them. Luckily neither were hurt and they and the SUV pulled off at the next exit, which was close by. The front of the Mercedes was very damaged and it was immobilised but our neighbours’ little Duster, though now about a foot shorter, was drivable so they carried on with their trip.

When they got home about a week later they took the Duster to the carrosserie their insurance company suggested and were shocked to be told the car (two and a bit years old) was a write off and could not be driven any further. So they left it there.

Now, this is the complication. They have the car on a three year lease from Renault and it was due to be replaced in September (or there about given all the chip delays) and there’s no way to bring that date forward. They are still paying their lease charges every month, but with no car.

Logically, I would have thought, Renault and the insurance company (and ultimately the Merc’s insurers) should work things out amongst themselves and Renault, who are still being paid, should come up with some interim mobility solution for my neighbours.

However it doesn’t seem to be working that way, the husband is (a very spritely) 85 and it seems to me unfair that he’s caught as piggy in the middle between his insurers, the Expert, and Renault. Calling them all but getting nowhere. They are about a month into this now and still no replacement from Renault.

That can’t be right, can it?

I have a horrible feeling it is. Well, no, it’s not right, but I think it is “correct”.

I’ve certainly experienced the issue that, when I wrote off my gen 5 Celica the insurer would not supply a courtesy car until the possibility of repair had been assessed and once the decision was made (fairly rapidly) that it was a write off let me know that courtesy cars were only provided while a car was beng repaired, not otherwise.

So I was out of luck - well, except that I had access to a company car that hitherto I’d not taken up so a call to HR, finance and the pool manager meant that I drove off in a works car that evening (a truly awful Renault Megane Scenic mini-MPV that I loathed for the next 18 months).

I can’t see that there’s any onus on Renault to provide a replacement, unless there’s something specifically in the contract, yes the insurers should ultimately pay out which should allow you neighbours to pay off the lease but the emphasis sadly is on “ultimately”; I’ll bet they are out of pocket though.

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Yes, they are confident they’ll get the lease payments reimbursed eventually. I guess the real issue is vehicle availability. If Renault had another Duster in the parking lot they could just deliver it to them.

In the UK you’d pursue it as a loss (loss of the value of the rest of the lease / cost of providing replacement (from wherever sourced) if lease does not include replacement.

Very unsure whether French law has 'put the person you caused damage to the property of in the position they would have been in". But I bet the legal dept of your insurance co. could give you a steer if they wanted to, as to any legislation that underpins this here, if any.

Well, yes they could - but unless their contractual position with your neighbour says that they have to that is not going to happen.

At least there is a counterparty who is at fault, does French insurance include cover for the cost of recovering uninsured losses in that situation?

Maybe @fabien can shed some light?

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Unfortunately this is a very common situation and often the result of the insurance policy being “subscribed” a bit in a haste without asking too many questions. The first thing to double check is what’s written on the insurance policy of your neighbours. If it doesn’t say that they are not the owners (it should be written “leasing” or “loa” or “location longue durée” somewhere) then you’re up for a very bad start. Being on a “leasing” contract is not enough, one should also make sure you are covered for “pertes financières” which is an option only available when this is a lease. That option is not mandatory (like being fully comp for example) but only that option would make sure the vehicle is fully paid in case of a write off (including the monthly lease). If it’s not a “lease contract” or if it is but without the “perte financière” (financial loss) option then they’ll get something which is the assessed value of the vehicle at that point but very often they’ll be short quite a lot of money (although it’s up to the assessor to decide about that). The problem in that situation is the fact that they’ve insured something that isn’t their but have made a commitment to pay something monthly for a certain duration and these 2 things aren’t linked legally speaking. The insurance will indeed compensate the garage (owner of the lease contract) so that THEY don’t loose a dime (as this is their property) but the leasing contract itself is not necessarily insured and many end up in that situation unfortunately. Like I often say, my best clients are the ones that had a “bad” experience before and now they understand they cost of a bad advice or lack thereof but this is always a painful experience one has to go through unfortunately :unamused:


The cover for a c"courtesy vehicle" is also something that can be part of the insurance policy… or not but this is like many thing: an option and one that may be lacking in his case which creates the whole mess unfortunately. Making sure you’re back on the road is not part of French regulations so if you’re not privately covered (by your insurance policy) then you’re on your own to find a replacement solution until your vehicle is either fixed or you get the money to buy a new one.

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Unfortunately no, only your policy can cover these potential “extra expenses” (courtesy vehicle in that case). And the potential “loss of income” or “financial loss” due to the lease instalments you may have to pay that aren’t going to be covered is also not covered “by default” and is only covered should one has the proper option(s) on his/her contract.

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Similar experience here with my business lease Nissan XTrail. Damaged in collision in UK, undrivable, had to wait for 2 expert opinions, one in the UK, and one in France. The vehicle was first assessed in the UK, which took a month, and then the insurers wanted it assessed in France, so after a further 6 weeks of delay (and repatriation), it was finally declared a write-off by Axa, before the lease company would replace the vehicle.

In the meantime, I had to hire a car, which initially I was told would be on my own dime, but in the end turned out it was taken care of by the lease company (lucky me), or actually, thinking about it, my insurer via the assistance.

I then had to wait a further 6 weeks to get a replacement vehicle from the lease company, but as they no longer did the XTrail, I renegotiated a new lease and a different make/model.

Crash and unofficial write off (generally when the front axle is broken, driving is a bit of a challenge) on Dec 31st, new lease vehicle end of May the following year - 5 months in all. Pretty poor really.

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Great response here. Its made me consider my own vehicle insurance and go and double check what’s included and what isnt.