Auto Renewal Insurance

We insured our car last year, after our house insurance with the same agent. We allowed the house insurance to be renewed, or what we thought was "renewed" in March 2014, and when the car insurance "renewal" came around in July we were dismayed with the increase. So we shopped around and got a quote for 200 euros cheaper.

After ignoring the renewal from original insurer, we duly requested NCD proof etc from original insurer. They provided this without problem. We insured with another company online. Last week, 3 months after all this, our original insurer emails us asking when we are paying our contract with them.

When we queried this, they informed us we haven't sent in our payment for the car contract. We told them we didn't renew - they told us it was auto-renewed. We told them we never requested that. They told us it's automatic for all contracts.

We researched and discovered that, yes these contracts auto-renew. We now accept this is common (?) practice in France. So we claimed ignorance, and told them they never sent us new paperwork (Ins certificate or new contract) for 2014 so we assumed the contract was terminated.

Now they have sent us a "statement of account" showing the insurance renewal cost as outstanding.

My query is, has anyone had this experience, and not paid? Are there or is there any consumer rights that could help us here? I believe they knowingly let us insure with another company and then did nothing for 3 months. It's very frustrating.

Hubby did ask the European Union, and they only sent us a link to a french site (which explains about insurance contracts), and saying if we believe they have done wrongdoing we may have a case - not very helpful.

Hi Pauiette,

Your advise was spot on, and it worked. Thank you so much it's all sorted now. Eurofil, whom now I see advertising on the telly, immediately responded, acknowledging the cancellation, and duly refunded most of the money (prob 9 months insurance and admin fee) straight back into our bank account.

I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed at their professionalism. So - thumbs up for online issues :-) We had sent a letter by reg post - but they responded to email also. Delighted with ourselves, and thankful the lesson was not too expensive, and forever grateful for your responses, and accurate information - thanks again!

When i changed my car insurance from AXA to Pacifica through the bank they did everything for me i scanned the envelope with the date plainly marked emailed it and job done

Yes, with Grouprama when I bought the farm and was forced to have it on signing day. I shopped around and found over half the price cheaper with GAN on renewal time. Went to the Grouprama in person with the old policy from purchase day. They photocopied it and I signed I was not renewing. I knew the FR rip off system existed as I had been pre-warned by other quotees. But they kept invoicing me also. I kept calling the central number and kept going back to their office until they finally left me alone. I never ever use FR banks or renew on line. I pay cash and then there is no question of automatic. I make myself as unavailable or traceable as possible,

The insurance companies should send the renewal docs in good time to allow you to choose if you want to renew or not but from experience they never do and you end up invoking the loi chatel hence the requirement to keep the envelope to prove late receipt of the renewal documentation. As an example for me, if my renewal paperwork was dated the 1st of the month but was not posted until the 15th of the month therefore I lost 15 days opportunity to change my mind so i get 20 days from the date on the envelope to cancel even if the renewal date has passed. Here is a good explanation of the loi chatel

No the 2 options are an either/or so just one recorded delivery letter is fine. If you know in advance that you want to cancel then the best timescale is 10 weeks before the renewal date. That way you are neither too early or too late. You should receive confirmation from the insurance company. If you don't receive confirmation then check with them and keep the proof of delivery slip and a copy of the letter. If you miss this 2 months before then you have the second option as a back up.

To cancel your policy with Eurofil you need to contact them by whichever means they allow. The problem with online companies is that you are dealing with a call centre and it is difficult to get anyone to take ownership of a query for you. If in doubt send them a letter of explaination by recorded delivery too. There shouldn't be a problem with getting a refund as the policy shouldn't have started, you just need to send them copies of the demand for payment etc as proof that the policy is still running.

Be aware - nearly all policies in France renew automatically - house insurance, legal protection, annual travel insurance etc. The one that doesn't is scolaire assurance and only renews when you make the payment. We have many clients who forget to make the payment and then don't realise the cover hasn't renewed in September. I don't know which is worse, automatic renewal or not lol

Wow Paulette,

What a response - thank you for taking the time to share your experience and sharing with SFN some great tips on how to proceed in future.

So to clarify - I need to send 2 recorded delivery letters? Is that just to be sure, to be sure?

Also when you say no later than 2 months for the first one - you mean it must be in their hands minimum 2 months in advance? And it's ok to send it 2 months and one week, or 2 months and 2 weeks prior?

On the other hand, when we get the renewal we have to again send a recorded delivery, and I should make sure this is done within 20 days?

The whole thing is mad - I now need to add 10-15 euro to cost of insurance for cancellation when pricing again.

Now, what I didn't realise, is that if we cancel the new/second policy because the previous/original cancellation didn't work, we are within our rights to get a refund? Any tips on that? As we did it online with Eurofil...will an email suffice? As that has been our contact system before.

Thanks again for your detailed reply - hopefully it will alert others of this practice. I will be on the ball for 2015, for sure!!

Hello Elaine, I had exactly the same situation the year after we moved to France. I now work for AXA so I completely understand the law and I'm afraid that if you didn't cancel the renewal in the correct manner, then you are stuck with it for another year.

You will start to receive letters from a bailiff soon. I went to the equivalent of the Citizens Advice Bureau and they confirmed that I didn’t stand a chance, no matter how underhand my insurer had been (and it wasn’t AXA lol), the law was the law. I had emailed my insurer to say we wouldn’t be renewing and she ignored my email until after the cut of date for cancellation, then emailed and told me she couldn’t accept an email as cancellation!

The best and cheapest thing for you is to begrudgingly pay the renewal premium, contact your new insurer and explain to them that the cancellation of your old policy wasn’t successful and that you need to cancel their policy. They will be used to it and will cancel the policy and refund you in full. Put it down to experience and get the cancellation done properly for next year’s renewal.

A little guide to cancelling insurance is as follows:-

  • Send a letter by recorded delivery (recommandée avec avis de réception) to arrive no later than 2 months before the renewal date. NOTE – many companies will not accept this too early either so don’t send earlier than 3 months before

  • Send a letter by recorded delivery (recommandée avec avis de réception) to arrive no later than 20 days from the date on the renewal letter or postmark date on the envelope. NOTE - always keep the envelope as often the letter is posted out days after it is printed.

So, until the law changes, we are stuck with this process.

On a positive note, you will never be uninsured because you forgot all about the renewal!