Debiting My French Bank Account

I have a French bank account with CreditAgricole.

A while ago i had house insurance for my French property, arranged by a French insurance broker. In July this year the policy came up for renewal, and I decided to not renew with them. i have recently checked my bank account and see that they have taken the premium from my account, without my authorisation!
I have never signed a direct debit, but previously sent them cheques. As a result the insurance broker knows where I bank, and presumably my bank account details which would have been on the cheques. I am assuming that they took the details from my cheques and used this to make a claim on my bank account. Obviously, they wanted me to renew with them, and my money for doing so. however, surely this should be my decision?
I don’t understand how they can have done this, and surely this action is not legal?
The brokers are ignoring my request for a refund. Can I do anything about this?

I think you will find that you have to notify them by registered letter that you are not going to renew. I don’t live in France now but I don’t think you can just stop paying.

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I have changed insurers several times in the past 15yrs and have never had to write a letter saying that I won’t be renewing.
The new insurance company has always done that on my behalf automatically without me even asking.

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Yep it’s exactly as Ronald says. French insurance policies don’t simply lapse if you ignore the renewal notice like they do in the UK. They are a rolling contract until you or your new insurers cancel it, and the cancellation has to follow set procedures.
You will have to pay them up to whatever the earliest possible cancellation date is, which might be the anniversary or it might be possible to cancel sooner.
If you asked your new insurer to cancel the old policy, take it up with them.


Yup, Anna is right. And how you cancel your policy will be detailed in the contract you signed, and usually requires a registered letter sent to their head office X weeks before the renewal date. (Unless of course your new insurance company will do that for you).

Your brokers should have explained this when you asked them to set up new insurance.

This is worth reading.


When I changed house insurance Loi Hamon had fairly recently been introduced. I remember my new insurers saying that the previous insurers were being difficult. I don’t know the ins and outs but from what I gathered they were trying to use a technicality to refuse to cancel. My agent was a petite, vivacious and quite firey lady, and from the way she said “The nerve of it, they’re not going to get the better of me, I’m right and they’re wrong and I will sort this out” I had every confidence that she would - and she did.

The original contract give s you in smallest print the instructions for cancellation. However a new law makes it now easier to cancel and you should investigate this. The cancellation time is much shorter now.
But prélèvements are dangerous as telefon companies help themselves with payments because they have an appalling account system. I have lost to SFR over 400 euros because they removed illegally money. They are thieves and have no accounting dpt.
be aware even on the motorway Payages when you pay with a credit card. They charged me during 8 crossings during my stay in Dubai!
Best of luck Irma

The system of prélèvements in France keeps my glandular apparatus well-toned, especially the adrenals, which never cease to twitch and thrill fiscally.

Some months there’s an unnerving snatch of cash from my bank account by some agency or another, followed an act of random and unrelated benevolence from the same or another agency, usually under an obscure name, and with no explanation.

All this I put down to the wondrous, ever-whirring, gyroscopic all-seeing-all-knowing Gallic prélèvement brain, somewhere in la République’s mystery-shrouded hinterland, where be dragons.

It is benign, I know it in my bones, but does not inspire me to get to know it better. Some sentiences are best held in respectful awe, and at a prudent distance.

Life, Spock, but not as we know it.


“Tacite reconduction” - probably somewhere in your insurance contract. Did your new insurance company assure you that they would handle the notice of “résiliation” with your previous insurer ? If not, then it is usually up to you to do so.

What i find abhorrent is that they have just gone and taken money from my account, without my permission. There was not even a direct debit set up. I can’t think this can be legal.

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Very useful.

Thank you.

This all makes me think that I will run my bank account with a very small credit balance to prevent such re-occurences. A shame we have to work in such a manner!

have you actually spoken with your Bank about the money which has been taken ???

Prelevements cannot be taken without the account holder’s permission… so I am a little confused when folk say they do not understand why money is going out of the account.

The Account Holder must have signed an authority for whichever Company/Government Body/Whatever… or have I totally misunderstood the system ?? :thinking:

If you’re absolutely sure you never gave permission (you definitely never provided a RIB?) your bank is clearly in the wrong and has to reimburse the money. But, that may not change the fact that legally you have to pay it.

That could be a bit of a double-edged strategy. Just because there isn’t enough money in your account, won’t stop providers trying to take a debit if they think it’s due and won’t make them go away and forget about it if it’s refused first time around. Every time your bank has to decline a direct debit due to insufficient funds it will charge you for the privilege and for every letter it sends.
The only answer really is to keep well on top of your transactions. These days you can open online accounts with most of the providers you use (tax office, URSSAF, mutuelle, EDF, water, internet provider, insurers etc), and you can keep checking to see exactly what they think you owe, when your next direct debit date is and exactly how much they’re planning to debit - or even refund! The rule in France is that you pay bills by the due date, even if you intend to contest them later. If you keep close tabs on your accounts you can often pick up any errors before the date when the debit will be taken - you can usually view the bill online a fortnight or so before its due date - and you have time to get the bill amended before it falls due.


I was notified back in Aug/Sept that Tax d’Hab would be taken by prélèvement on 25th November and, lo and behold, the payment was taken this morning… :hugs:

(incidentally, I note in my diary when payments are to be taken for Elect/Water/Ins/Whatever… about a week in advance of the actual due date, which gives me time to ensure solvency)

I am trying to speak to my bank. They are their usual unhelpful selves though.

which bank are you with?? can’t you go in and ask to speak face to face?? Sorry just seen you are with Credit Agricole - my bank too and always very helpful in my experience. Can take a while to get an appointment, but the cashier will always try and answer any query on the spot…

Not sure that this statement is correct.
A few months ago my bank was instructed by the impots to take from our account what amounted to almost 1000 euros in 2 payments to which I had no knowledge of until after the event. furthermore my bank charged and took a further 10% for the privilege of doing it.
When I raised the matter with my bank they said that when they received such a request from the impots they were legally bound to enforce it and if I had an issue with the system and the money that had been taken then I had to take it up with the Impot and not them.
I did, and it turned out that it was total incompetence on the part of the Impot and they sent me a written apology and reimbursed the money to my account within 7 days.
I presented the letter of apology to the bank with a request that they reimburse the 10% taken by them but was told that was not possible and I should seek repayment from the Impot.
I did just that and the Impot did repay the 10% to me 2 weeks later but during the time of all this going on it was extremely stressful and all because someone at the impots had extracted our English name from the system and matched it to the debt without exploring further to see if our address and SS number matched their records. It turned out that the debt was indeed owed by our namesake but they lived 100 km away and had their own SS number.

I do not think that this approach would make the slightest difference as it is the bank who are instructed to debit the account by whoever and the bank will then pursue you to make good your account if it has gone overdrawn.

There really is no hiding place, if you owe it due to lack of understanding of the system then pay up.

As a footnote my bank is Credit Agricole and are extremely helpful and efficient and they did talk me through the procedure to follow in order to get the wrongful charges repaid. They were simply abiding by the law of this land .