Health Cover whilst waiting to get on the French System

Hello all thank you for all your help on Health Stuff in my previous post… so the plunge is getting ever nearer so I was wondering whether anyone had recommendations for the interim Private Health Insurance for the 3 months before being accepted in the French System I need the cheapest minimal acceptable cover.

This is a question for @fabien


Hi Pete, if you really only need 3 months you can get a travel insurance from the UK (cheapest) but ask various people in here and they’ll probably tell you that it’s highly unlikely that you would get the carte vitale 90 days after you’ve moved over. Actually you can only start the application process after 90 days and it usually takes 90 days (minimum) to the social security to get you covered / processed so 6 months minimum. By experience the average time to get into the system with a carte vitale is 8/9 months. Bearing in mind that post lock down and with the increased influx of British expats these days they’ll probably increase their processing delays.

I’m pointing that out because you’ll probably need more than just 3 months cover and usually private medical policies aren’t very flexible (they commit you for the full year usually). Luckily we have a policy that can accept an early cancellation when presenting the “attestation de droit” (proof of acceptance into the system) and if you want to have a look at the premium you can check it online directly (choosing “i don’t have a carte vitale”) on


Thank you for the FabFrenchInsurance link. I’m trying to move to France with my 89yo mum, and was in a panic about getting her health cover so we would be legally resident.

Am I right in thinking that with valid S1 forms from the UK (she a pensioner and getting attendance allowance, me her carer with carer’s allowance) we will still have to wait for several months to be accepted on the French system?

Thanks again - really! The nightmares are getting stronger every night as we try to complete a move in time. The agent who promised to sell us a property won’t even speak to me, only to my fluently French-speaking friend already living in France!


Indeed, S1 holder are not legally obliged to have a PHI so she’s safe :wink:

but on the other hand @fabien for an S1 holder’s carer (who maybe not an S1 holder) if I have that right @SteveRussell ?

Oh and just in case, for applications I know of a guy that’s quite helpful, don’t know if it’s allowed to share details here but just in case his name is Richard Hammonds from French Connections H-C-B +33 06 45 23 64 40,

Oh my - the news gets better. I am entitled to an S1 as her carer too. Will I still need to get PHI for us both until the actual physical S1 arrives once we have our place in France?

Thanks again Fabien - I will contact Richard for advice too. I’m jut worried that without having the S1 in our hands until after we have arrived, we won’t be classed as legally resident before the 31st December. It might be worthwhile getting PHI for the first month just to be sure.

France like other countries would never refuse anyone emergency treatment, and I hope you both have EHICs (which are not completely legitimate as you will not be on holiday) but may be useful just in case. However, at you mother’s age it might be worth taking out some sort of health insurance for the intervening period. I would say that that is a more important reason for taking out health insurance!

But it may not be that long…it seems that DWP are being relatively responsive about sending out S1s. Have you spoken to them already? And if you have an address lined up in France can you give that to them and see if they will start the steps of sending them? Unfortunately it will then take a couple more weeks to get it registered here. And others will correct me, but I believe that having the S1 piece of paper is not cast iron guarantee until it has been accepted by the French authorities. Although as long as it is dated before 31st December it will probably do as the French are seeming to be amazingly relaxed over residency requirements right now!

Despite that, if you can afford to get a flexible temporary health cover for a couple of months it may well be worth it, and give your mum peace of mind.

Thanks Jane. I have checked the cost using Fabien’s link and though my eyes watered a little, at 89yo I think for the peace of mind it’s a price worth paying

I’ve jut been reading another thread about Mutuelles which you contributed to, and I think I’m going to have to look into what is appropriate for mum in the longer term. I think she would be entitled to additional assistance as she will have a low income, but then she will also have some capital left over from the sale of her house in the UK… I hope they don’t want to know about her prodigious smoking habit!

Might be best to talk to Fabien to me sure you have identified the right package for you. And yes it is probably eye watering!

(Health insurance here is not like in the UK, they don’t ask medical questions!)


I have spoken to the department dealing with S1s, and they are primed to send our S1s as soon as we give them our French address, but the French property we were going to buy fell through, so I am trying to organise somewhere else for us to move to. It is complicated, of course, and I can’t take risks. At the moment, just as I get one piece of the jigsaw into place another seems to jiggle itself loose. All I can do is keep trying!

Tomorrow is the crunch day when I try to pin down the agent who agreed to sell us another property a month ago to the point of the sale going to a notaire. But she then ‘disappeared’. I think she may have caught Covid as she only reappeared yesterday sounding very rough, according to my friend in Avranches who managed to speak with her.

It’s lucky I like a challenge, but the Isle of Mull is looking increasingly attractive!

You say you have a friend in France who is helping you with estate agent. Could you “stay” with him/her and use that address as an attestation of hébergement is acceptable. With 16 days to go this is tight! When is your travel booked for?

Our travel won’t be booked again until tomorrow once I have confirmation that we will have access to the property we are supposedly buying. I have already lost one booking due to the other sale falling through.

Regarding my friend, she may be able to accommodate us very short-term, but mum uses a zimmer frame and can’t manage stairs, so I think more than a night or two would be quite an imposition for her as she’d have to put a bed into her lounge. I am more inclined to book a gite though our removal man(!) but I’ve found people often underestimate disability when they are trying to get themselves some income - not meaning to be uncharitable there. A hotel would also be okay - once we know the sale is definitely going ahead.

Yes, time is as tight as it can be, especially with holidays too. But I’m not giving up on my dream until it’s actually impossible.

might it just be easier to book an hotel (initially at least) in France and set sail pronto. When you are here, it will be much easier to control things in person rather than by proxy… useful as friends can be.

Hi Jane, you are correct for everything except for the S1. Last thursday there was an official announcement that the S1 will be accepted without any exceptions for the application (legally speaking at least) so this is now a certainty although that rule is super recent and it doesn’t change the fact that the medical cover itself is not guaranteed to be as good as a PHI but I would say this is rather a commercial angle as technically speaking they’ll accept this :wink:

Kind regards,

That is good news for the OP! But even if ok for residency application they would of course would still have the risk that if they needed medical treatment of any sort they would have to pay for it upfront and most likely have a battle to get the money back. I can’t see an average French pharmacy accepting a document written in English as payment for a prescription.

They better get over here asap and get the DWP to send it as soon as they can.

Can’t agree more :wink: :+1: