On-line car insurance

Am I being scammed - applied to an on-line car insurance company who take a non returnable deposit payment against their quoted price but the application must be completed within a month. Then the fun starts - a list of required information which they firstly claim is illegible - second and third requests over the next two weeks before being accepted - then a relevé des informations for the past two years then again for the two years previous - then a “sorry for the delay in replying” but we need a photo - by this time a month as passed by so the next contact says “sorry but you are out of time and your deposit is lost but please make a new application” - what’s the betting that we are now on a mugs list and will be inundated with telephone cold calls from car insurers!.

Sounds like it I am afraid.

Who is/was the insurer, and importantly, what was their web addresses?

Most of these scams are pretty obvious by their poor wording and graphics, but many have overcome this and produce credible looking pages, but their URLs and email addresses give them away. The latest round of TV licencing scams are from addresses with .jp!

I doubt it’s legal for a legit insurance company to demand that, @fabien will know.

Edit: I should clarify, it was the upfront payment I was referring to, not the requests for backup documentation, I well believe that.

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This does sound scammy.

If Fabien confirms then I would report this - they now have a lot or personal details. Others might also know what steps you can take to push them to delete the details, and even reclaim the money.

Hi John, thanks for tagging me along. The questions asked seem logic as insurers usually want to see the insurance history for the past 3 years (only two if maximum discount in France) but if there is some foreign insurance history in there then they’ll ask for more to “convert” that insurance history. This is actually one of the main reason people like me exist as most expats that do online quotations and end-up with a random company usually get the feeling they are being scammed but most of the time they just don’t understand how wrong their statements actually were as France work quite differently (even French native make tons of mistake on online calculators / aggregators so that says a lot). All this to say that the story doesn’t seem that scammy to me except for the non refundable payment.

If you’ve purchased something online there is no such thing as a non refundable payment. Whatever the situation you have a legal 14 days cool off period => more on “service-public.fr”. If that deposit was actually an upfront payment of the insurance premium (and not a fee or some honoraries) then it’s 30 days (not 14).

The only thing that’s non refundable would be a service executed or served. This only example I can think off that would make this legal would be that the broker charges some fees to run a comparative analysis (so that fee is not directly linked with the policy). Beware, if the fee is directly linked with the policy (processing fee for example) then it has to be refundable if the policy is not setup.

This is a complex topic so I would say it’s not necessarily a scam although there are some major red flags indeed.

A call of last ressort is still available as you can call your bank to apply for a charge back. You can always apply for a chargeback up until 30 days after the debit but most of the time you have up to 90 days. Same rules apply for direct debits but it’s 60 days (from the back of my mind I could be wrong about the delays).

It would be enlightening to know the name of the company you’ve used so that I can run some background check and confirm what may be happening (I may also know them already so could share more insights)? It’s important to know because they may be registered and if they are you have other legal recourses like the “mediateur assurance” and other stuff that could vastly improve your odds of getting your money back.

Also, how big was the “deposit”?

Hope that helps?


Hello Fabien - many thanks for your input - the company is Active insurance - the quotes were for two vehicles - everything looked fine until the confusing emails, each one asking for more and more what is seen as unecessary info - full 4 year history of our insurance since we bought the car - additional history beyond the two year history provided by Allianz which would require our contacting the past insurers within a limited time scale before our pre payments were forfeit - photos of the cars which had to be dated - request for repeats of info already provided.
The upfront payments for the two vehicles was some 260€ which would be forfeit if the contracts were not finalised within 30 days.
It all looked like delaying tactics, especially as an aquaintance has had a similar problem with Lovys Insurance company - his loss was only 40€ because he could not produce documents in time.

Ok thanks for the info. First the good news => Active insurance is not a scam in the sense as they are fully regulated & registered with the financial authorities in France (orias number 10058420). That means you have recourses.

Unfortunately the process you’ve been through seems normal, many insurers ask for pictures of the vehicles it’s not uncommon, providing the full history is also not uncommon and contacting past insurers is kind of the rule here in France as relying solely on the previous insurers history is only possible if you’ve been with the former insurer for 3+ years for each of the vehicles you have so none of what you mentioned seems weird to be although, as a broker this is definitely not the kind of plans we would be selling to expats specifically because of the troubles it creates and the cultural differences, but this is another story.

Regarding the upfront payment it looks like they’ve had you pay a premium, the law is clear in France, if it’s a premium it has to match a certain cover that’s been provided so I would advise the following:
1/ Make sure you’re not insured or no longer insured
2/ Seek another insurance company
3/ Ask Active Insurance for the certificate of insurance confirming for how long you’ve been covered AND the “échéancier” of the payment taken => SUPER IMPORTANT: make sure you ask this in an email where the subject is exactly this “Réclamation: Demande de remboursement de sommes payées” - Also make sure you send one email per contract if multiple contracts - In that email make sure you ask for the policy number(s), the certificate of insurance and the “échéancier” (equivalent of an invoice in the insurance world in France) and most importantly ask for the money to be fully refunded. Don’t go into too many details just ask for the documents and state the simple fact => you want to be refunded. Just end your email by saying that according to French regulations they have 60 days to settle this friendly, pass that delay you’ll send the inquiry to the “médiateur assurance”.

To sum it up they are probably legit although they have tactics which I’ve seen more and more often online which is clearly borderline and I think they’re “playing” with the fact that most don’t know their rights (actually we’ve been in touch with potential new providers and I was shocked to notice that many of my “colleagues” don’t seem to be aware of French regulations which is a bit scary and would explain why we see such behaviours online.

Good luck and keep us/me posted,


Hi again- thanks for your comments - I have already told them I want them to withold the applications until they furnish a definitive list of documents that they need - unless I get a satisfactory reply I will pull the plus and walk away. The application was pre dated to start on 1st March so can see no problem in getting a refund - your wording should help.
Regards John

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Hello Jane - Thank you for your interest - Fabien has given me good advise - seems to be not a scam but not good practice which on its own is a reason to get out while I can - perhaps the outcome may help someone else who find themselves in the same situation.

I would be tempted to get yourself out of any arrangement with that insurance and switch to @fabien .


Well, if this not a scam but is accepted as normsl business ethics, it only cements my low opinion of French insurance!

Quite disgraceful.

Yes - follow what Fabien says I would suggest and do all the official-letter-to-them again using his wording seems to be the best idea - even if you believe you’ve correctly communicated the same thing previously.

We seem to see recurring queries here on SF where people have indeed given correct notices or cancellations to such as banks or insurance companies or in other dealings : notices that we would say an excellent job, in England. But because it’s not in the official format or doesn’t mention a specific French law enabling this type of cancellation, say, it doesn’t work. And months or years afterwards the person is still paying and the contract hasn’t been cancelled.

Thank you to Fabien and your own common sense in recognising the “alarm bells” and wanting to ensure you get out quick in a way that is effective.


If the company is so tricksy with their application process, one dreads to think how awful they would be should you ever need to claim! Escape while you can!


Now March 1st - have received one repayment - awaiting repayment for second car - they are most displeased and cannot understand my stance but if they create such a hassle when I try to pay them for a service what chance of ever getting anywhere with an insurance claim?
Now looking for insurance on two cars after Allianz have added 10% to my cotisations after another claim free year.