Our experience with Insurance and tops ups. I hope this is useful

We moved here in 2006. About 18 months later, our right to paid health care from the UK expired. I went to our local broker and asked him to explain what we required as I didn’t understand the varying percentages that could be reimbursed. He said that we must look at it in the same way as we would car insurance. The minimum for that being third party. He said that if we had to go to hospital, we might be able to pay for a day or two, but then it could become expensive. We had two young daughters at the time and chose hospital cover for the family, which then was €34.50 per month. Now €66.00 per month. During the time that we had been in France, GP visits, dentist and one trip to A&E had cost us about €150 of which roughly 60-70% had been reimbursed. The minimum cost of a mutual to get 100% (or so I thought) reimbursed meant that we would have had to have paid €120-140 per month (€1440 to 1680 per year) to get back say €60. For me, that was a big saving. When you take into account critical care for heart attack, strokes and cancer is 100% paid by the State, you need to factor in what you think your health requirements might be and try not to buy a product that might be wasting you money.
My wife and I wear glasses, but due to the exorbitant prices charged here, get them when we go back to the UK. My next pair will actually be bought via an internet company that will let you try several pairs of frames before you buy. For me spectacles are not a fashion accessory, so I’m not worried about having a designer frame.
We rarely go to the GP although I went earlier this year with a troublesome cough and worried unnecessarily about asbestosis as I had been exposed to asbestos in the past. A couple of x-rays and some blood tests were not expensive. My wife and I have both been inpatients in hospital here. Me for kidney stones for four days and then a day stay for a minor operation. My wife was a couple of days for a minor operation too. The hospitals were fully paid by the mutual. Surprisingly, my four days in St Cyr in Villeneuve sur Lot came to just over €200. (In 2011). I had to pay the bill as I had forgotten to take the insurance details with me. It was refunded in full by the insurance company. Now, whenever we have been inpatients or had x-rays etc and had to pay for medical treatment, we are always asked if we have a mutuelle. Would the price be higher if we did?
Last year I went to our dentist here and asked the price for a crown and two bridges. I was given the devis and took this to our broker (a new company as we changed last year). I asked if I had a mutuelle, would all of the money be reimbursed. Now, the Agent is English, so nothing was lost in translation. I don’t have the devis to hand, but the approximate price for the work totalled €3850. There were two other sets of figures in columns next to it. The agent explained the first column was what the dentist would charge. The second column was what the Government thought the price should be. €666. The third column was what I would actually be reimbursed on my Carte Vitale. €427. She explained that if I wanted 1-2-or 300% reimbursement (obviously the premium increases), it would only be a multiplier of the difference between the Governments estimate and what I was reimbursed via my Carte Vitale. I had two planned trips back to the UK and went to a dentist there to have the crown fitted at a fraction of the price.
Now everyone’s healthcare requirements are going to be different. I think that it is important to have everything fully explained to you, or for you to be able to understand exactly what you are getting for your money and that you actually get the service that you want and are paying for.
As an aside, we changed our broker due to a large rise in the cost of insurance for our main vehicle, almost €500. We hadn’t made any claims, so we asked another broker to give us a price for our cars and house insurance. Following her quote (she didn’t know how much our renewal was), we moved our insurance saving €1100 per year. Once we decided to move, our other company’s head office called us and tried to stop us moving. They offered us cheaper insurance, but it didn’t match what we had been offered. They then said, ‘Perhaps we can quote on all of your insurance to give you a better price as we work with many companies?’ My response was, 'But you had all of our insurance. Shouldn’t you have been looking for the best price for us?. They didn’t respond.
I actually think that the cover we have is right for us. Some might say ‘Ah, but what if you needed a new hip, or knee?’ I can understand that, but look at what we have saved by not having a full mutuelle €15840-€18480, not taking into account inflation. I can afford not to get the €8 or so back when I visit the GP.


Totally agree with you Paul, we have took almost the same route as you and have saved over €25k by not taking out any top up assurance, but then all said and done it is down to luck we are on top after being here for 15 years without any major health issues.
Bet there will be people on here who have gained from paying into assurances.

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That is the same with all insurance - it is a gamble that you hope NOT to win by having to make a claim.


Ha ha… Health is one subject that I prefer not to gamble with. Having been used to paying for BUPA in UK… it was an expected expense here in France… to have a Mutuelle… and we went for almost the top of the range (at that time).

Over the first few years… I regularly checked the in’s and out’s… and would gloat that we have been paid back, more than the cost of the Mutuelle… phew

As our health improved, the barometer swung the other way… :thinking:

Now, we have mixed health problems, some fully covered, most not… but after talking with @fabien …with his help, we changed the Mutuelle to one more suitable for us now and much cheaper… yippee

There was a question a few years back… an 80 year old Brit was asking if he was really expected to pay the balance of his hospital costs… having received a bill for several thousand euro… he had no Mutuelle, because he had never been ill before…:roll_eyes::thinking: ooops


I wasn’t saying, don’t have one, far from it. We have one, but for hospital cover only, rather than one that purports to pay all of your bills.
The point of my posting was that many people don’t seem to understand the system here and why should they. On the face of it, it would appear that you need a mutuelle to cover all of your health costs, when in reality, you don’t need to pay for such extensive or expensive cover.
Personally, I believe what I was told about hospital cover being the most important and have run with that.


Each person needs to make an informed decision… as it can be a minefield…

For me, the Mutuelle is a godsend. After quite a simple fall and the ensuing operation etc… I needed 140 sessions of physiotherapy treatment over the course of the year… Social paid a little and the rest was paid by the Mutuelle…

I have needed physio nearly every year, since, for various injuries etc. Without my Mutuelle, I would not be able to pay for the amount of physio necessary to keep my body on the straight and narrow.

I agree that each person needs to ensure the Policy is tailored to their needs … but one’s future health is unknown territory… :thinking::zipper_mouth_face:


We didn’t have a mutuelle for many years as we were in pretty normal health, and the only significant issue was covered by an ALD. So same as you, it seemed a luxury.

However, to me it’s also about what your expectations are. It may be that sometime soon I will need a complicated heart operation, and if this happens I want to be able to go for the most specialised expert in the field no matter what the cost. So we now have a mutuelle…

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It’s all down to personal circumstances and a large helping of luck! Our mutuelle gives me a handy running total of what’s been paid out and for the last four years we have been ‘in profit’ - this definitely was not the case previously.
All mutuelles are not equal and it is absolutely essential that you find a policy that is tailored to your personal circumstances. Which is why I always recommend @fabien - he’s saved us a fortune in the last few years and given me 100% peace of mind - which is something you can’t put a price on.


Please could you explain. Your right to paid health care expired. Does that mean that initially on becoming resident in France we would still be entitled to UK health care or health care in France paid for by the UK?

Hi Teresa

In days gone by…some UK folk had 1 or 2 years cover supplied via the S1 form (prior to retirement)…depending on their NHI payments during the previous 2 (?) years in UK… that was the old system and is (I believe) no longer in existence… :thinking:

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I don’t know if the scheme is still in existence or not, but we were told that depending upon when you moved here (January was the best date) you could get up to 2 1/2 years cover from the UK. We had to get some French paperwork from the UK at the time, which was obtained with a phone call to the relevant department.

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" Early retirees

You can no longer apply for a residual S1 (formerly residual E106), which previously provided temporary healthcare to early retirees moving to other EEA countries."


As a matter of interest, would Admin be prepared to say if Survive France receives any financial reward from Fabien with regard to the amount of SF subscribers?

Yes, SF receives a commission for referrals that become customers.


You can read James’ reply… and make of it what you will. The fact that so many of us recommend @fabien is because he has helped us to save money and ensure the best product… nothing to do with commissions… :relaxed: (my own witticisms and advice… are given absolutely freely… :rofl::joy:)

My OH was in Finance & Insurance in the UK for many years…we thought we “knew it all”… Our first Mutuelle here was the “bees knees”… but as time went by, we had no idea how to tweak things…

We needed someone with expertise in this country’s little ways. Fabien has guided us through the minefield and we have ended up better off… (and, before anyone asks… yes, we did discuss with other Advisors/Assurers)

'Nuff said.


Thank you for the honest reply.

My question was posed, as I posed one on another now defunct site several years ago. My question then was ‘Does the line between recommending someone and receiving a commission for it become blurred depending upon the amount of commission received?’ I asked it because I was aware of several people offering commission for referrals. The downside to that is the commission paid has to come from somewhere and that is going to be the customer buying the service. It’s just something that I’m not comfortable with.

I can’t be certain in that being the case.
You are correct in that any commission paid has to come from somewhere but not necessarily at the expense of the end customer… it can just as easily be a contribution from the standard commission that would have been paid in any event.
I doubt very much that @fabien adds his commission to your bill. The insurance industry doesn’t work that way AFAIK.
But, that aside, if the insured gets a better deal than he would otherwise have had, isn’t that just win-win?


Here’s a more comprehensive answer