The Great Car Insurance Debate

The sublect originally arose as a sub topic on another thread, but seems to be as controversial as my Anglo info criticism. I have noticed a few old English registered cars which have been here for a few years but have no evidence of being insured or maintained but drive around without too much fear of prosecution. If any of you have been involved in an accident with such a car you would be aware of just how much this can cost you. The rules are there for all & are simple to obey but for some reason some people are quite prepared to overlook the offence & belittle those who consider car insurance to be important. I know my feelings on the matter & have explained my reasons.
Lets have your feelings on this matter - you do not have to agree with me, just keep it polite!

I can only surmise that each office has a certain amount of delegated underwriting authority and can make such decisions.

As to the "drunk driver" I do not know what they would do in the UK nowadays I am afraid as such things change as the years go by.

Thanks, Chris, that makes things a little clearer. Can you explain to me how one Axa office has to follow Head office rules & another does not? I cannot understand why my local agent has to cease insuring foreign registered cars after 6 months while another agent not too far away can?

A friend was involved in an accident a while back where he was hit by a car going too fast round a bend causing the car to go over the white line & hit my friend's car, causing cosiderable damage. When both drivers were breath tested, my friend was found to be just over the limit while the other driver was clear. My friend was therefore found to be at fault & his insurance company reduced his cover to 3rd party only from fully comp leaving him to sort his car out himself. Does this happen in the UK? I thought that they would have paid in full but refused to re-insure him in the future.

As it turned out he was just fined - no ban - & had to insure with a company dealing in higher risk drivers. His new quote was 150 euros LESS than he had been paying with his old agent!

There is, again, a danger of mixing up the illegality of the car itself, which is a police matter, and the insurance which does not depend on the legality of the vehicle to pay out. If you break the law your insurance would not be invalid. e.g. drunken driving, speeding etc. In order to avoid an insurance policy you have to breach one of the conditions of the insurance policy and rarely, if ever, is there one which demands a current MOT or (in the case of France) CT. What the insurer can do is refuse to pay for the damage to the insured vehicle if there are grounds, they can refuse to pay for damage to third party property, if there are grounds, but third party personal injury they are liable for. The grounds are only a breach of a policy condition.

In the UK, were there to be NO insurance the claim is handles by the Motor Insurers Bureau as if the claim was insured. This Bureau is funded by the insurers but it means that a third party injury claim will always be met.

You can never be sure but next time you see one just take a look at the "green card" on the windscreen !!!!!

You will find many are insured by French Insurers.

Yes an awful lot are insured in the countries they live in but probably illegally To be honest you only ever find out when its to late ?

Are you sure that they have insurance from a French agent?

If they are resident in a foriegn country & the vehicles are registered at their home addresses there is no reason why they cannot get the insurance from there, too. The rules of that country would apply. I don't know what their laws expect.

Sorry to throw confusion into this debate but what about Romanian, Polish, Czech not forgetting Channel Islands and Eire.registered cars. I am aware of a group of Jersey residents who keep caravans, camping cars, vehicles etc in a hangar and have done for at least 4 years but they never go to Jersey. They come over and collect them for the summer holiday. All are insured in France and some of the domiciliations do not require a vehicle testing certificate. It is not just the British who can get their British reg cars insured in France.

I can answer that one for you, Chris. The authorities will not register a car, either an import or a locally purchased one, without a CT. In order to register your car here it must comply with the safety standards first & have a CT issued within the last 6 months. Bizarrely, a failure certificate is also acceptable! A test will only be carried out on an imported car if it has with it the registation document from that country or a certificate in lieu AND a certificate of european conformity, which must also be presented. This confirms that the car's components meet European safety standards. Having got all that it is very easy to register your car. Those who don't do it i would presume have not bothered to get a CT, which means that if they did have an accident their insurance would be void. Yoy are not asked to present the CT when you insure, I have never been asked for one as it is assumed you would have one. Only when I was involved in an accident was I asked for the CT.

Perhaps you could confirm this for me?

But don't the insurance agents have to comply with the law?

The government web site states: Si vous venez d'acquérir un véhicule d'occasion provenant de l'étranger, vous devez faire établir le certificat d'immatriculation (ex-carte grise) dans un délai d'un mois suivant la date d'achat du véhicule. À défaut, vous risquez de payer une contravention de 4ème classe.

This applies to all French residents. Some people seem to be having a problem with the concept of a French resident so I have devised a simple test. To make it easier the answer is multiple choice for the really mentally challenged.

Ask yourself the following question.

Where do I live? a) France

b) Somewhere else

If you have answered a, then you are a French resident.

Also, bearing in mind the law about your car showing number plates that are not valid (ie because you have exported it) or are attributed to an address you no longer live at ( ie your old UK address), this being fraud, aren't some insurance agents encouraging the law to be broken? Or are agents here like the Football Association in the UK - beyond the law of the land, and issuance of an insurance vignette somehow exempts you from complying?

I seem to remember that in the UK cover was given on the assumption that certain standards were met, one of them being that the car complied with certain legal requirements & was kept in a roadwothy condition. Is this not the same here?

And how is it that only SOME agents can defy head office policy & others cannot?

I agree, Dave, The gendarmes need to get out more! In some areas they are starting to & Brit cars ARE being confiscated & sol off in the Government auctions, but down here you see so few & the don't want to hassle Brits who might well just turn out to be tourists.

Getting slightly off topic, I do not understand why it is possible to get a controle technique when you do not comply with the law about registration and etc. I know of one case at least. If they tightened that up then anyone with a UK plated car would be unable to get a CT.

I don't think you (Mark) and Chris are that far apart on agreement. You are stressing the illegality of people not registering their cars within the prescribed time and Chris is explaining how some of the above mentioned people may still be able to make a claim on the insurance. I have been aware of Chris in the insurance field for over 20 years now and I think he probably has a pretty good knowledge of how it works. The fact remains, there are literally hundreds of UK plated cars being used here without going through the proper procedure and no amount of debate on any of the expat forums will change their attitude. Only the cops taking steps to deal with it will have any effect but they are too busy with their speed cameras grabbing the easy money.

Even if you tell the truth this does not negate the fact that you have 6 months by law to put your car in the system!

I like Chris' idea of getting a letter from your agent confirming the validity but my agent does not require me to fill in any forms at all. They ask for a copy of the log book (a car on English plates would not have a carte gris) and my driving license & the type of cover required. I am then verbally informed of the 6 month rule & the cost. I then accept by signing a contract which I suppose is the same thing. The question is, at what point is this submitted to head office & how well do they check it? I have never been asked to submit a copy of a CT until making a claim, as I had to in June when my all French car was hit by an oncoming one whose driver was tuning her radio. A UK plated car may not have a French CT as now you need to have the UK log book AND a Certificate of European Conformity in order to pass one.

So quite honestly if your car has passed a CT & you have the C of C, you only need a Quitas Fiscal (free) & you have all the papers necessary to register it!

When this subject of UK registered cars was discussed on another thread here a member wrote

"Been driving since I was 17 and am 53 now ,never had a bump or so much as a ticket I don't plan on that changing,I just don't get you scare mongers sometimes I would never leave a serious incident and it's always lets throw in running a kiddie over for the guilt trip,just laughable, the reality is I pay my insurance the police stop me from time to time and are satisfied with what I produce, they dont ask me to do anything but be on my merry way so stick that in your pipe and smoke it..."

He was either funny, incredibly stupid or has the mythical "third eye". Never had a bump...& doesn't "plan" on that changing?? Ask any surviver of a car accident & I think you will find that they didn't plan on it, either!

Whatever Brits have got away with in the past does not make it right. The law is the law & it applies to ALL residents of France. It is not one law for some. Brits who deliberately avoid the law on vehicle registation might just as well continue to drive on the left, use pounds in the shops & ignore anything not written or spoken in English.

In the meantime, I hope Chris is right about the validity of insurance in case I get hit by one of these cars, planned or otherwise!

Absolutely correct but there is a difference between voiding a policy because you have told a lie on the proposal form (or in the initial information) which is called a misrepresentation of a material fact and can void the policy from inception, and someone who lives here, declares their address as a French address and has a UK plated vehicle and has insurance here.

In the case of someone who tells the truth, has French insurance and carte grise as well as a French Control technique but retains English plates the insurance will still be valid in the event of an accident. as it is up to the insurers to refuse to continue an insurance or cancel it - if they do not, they are still liable.

The law refers to a French resident regardless of nationality. I've been a French resident for 12 years & as such any car I import must be put in to the French system, otherwise the address in the logbook would be false as it would not refer to my residence. (I'm sure there are grey areas but that would be splitting hairs).

This is what the French law says:-

Article L317-2 En savoir plus sur cet article...
Modifié par Loi n°2003-495 du 12 juin 2003 - art. 11 (V) JORF 13 juin 2003

I. - Le fait de faire usage d'une plaque ou d'une inscription, exigée par les règlements en vigueur et apposée sur un véhicule à moteur ou une remorque, portant un numéro, un nom ou un domicile faux ou supposé est puni de cinq ans d'emprisonnement et de 3 750 euros d'amende.

II. - Toute personne coupable de cette infraction encourt également les peines complémentaires suivantes :

1° La suspension, pour une durée de trois ans au plus, du permis de conduire, cette suspension pouvant être limitée à la conduite en dehors de l'activité professionnelle ;

2° La confiscation du véhicule.

III. - Ce délit donne lieu de plein droit à la réduction de la moitié du nombre maximal de points du permis de conduire.

Article L317-3 En savoir plus sur cet article...
Modifié par Loi n°2003-495 du 12 juin 2003 - art. 11 (V) JORF 13 juin 2003

I. - Le fait de faire circuler, sur les voies ouvertes à la circulation publique un véhicule à moteur ou une remorque sans que ce véhicule soit muni des plaques ou inscriptions exigées par les règlements et, en outre, de déclarer un numéro, un nom ou un domicile autre que le sien ou que celui du propriétaire est puni de cinq ans d'emprisonnement et de 3 750 euros d'amende.

II. - Toute personne coupable de cette infraction encourt également les peines complémentaires suivantes :

1° La suspension, pour une durée de trois ans au plus, du permis de conduire, cette suspension pouvant être limitée à la conduite en dehors de l'activité professionnelle ;

2° La confiscation du véhicule.

III. - Ce délit donne lieu de plein droit à la réduction de la moitié du nombre maximal de points du permis de conduire.

The DVLA also add, in answer to the question,

I am abroad with my vehicle and the tax disc has expired. Can I declare SORN?
If you are using the vehicle abroad, but it is still registered in the UK, the vehicle must be taxed.
Many here are either permanently exported or on a SORN.
The law on SORN is this,Your vehicle must be in and remain in Great Britain to make a SORN.
I cannot understand why people don't just do what they are meant to do rather than nit pick about what may or may not be legal or wait to be involved in a serious incident before finding out that their actions can cause misery to possibly innocent people!

It depends where your main residence is. If your house here is your maison secondaire then you are a visitor.

Well considering this thread was started by me in 2010 it has certainly taken its time to make progress. Going back to the original thread one sentence sums it all up - if they have an accident and cannot prove they have a UK address or otherwise they will not be payed out. - which also means they have lied by giving a false address to their insurers - which means it is a fraud as well as the motoring offence.

An AXA rep some years ago stated that they do not exercise "due diligence" and check if the address is genuine - they simply will not pay out. And if you ares stopped in a UK plated car in the UK with French Insurance a simple police check reveals where the vehicle is registered and you have not done a certificate of export then you are done - c'est la vie !!!!

As far as I am aware, the law refers to a Frenchman driving a foreign registered car in France. In your case, again as far as I know, provided the car you keep in France is French registered, has a Controle Tecnique and a Carte Grise, you are legally allowed to drive it.

Firstly in France they are not "brokers". They are an agent for the company they advertise. Therefore you will only get quotes from Axa (or whomsoever). If you seek an insurance that they do not do (for example Allianz do not do pet insurance so we were put onto April and we deal with them on a direct basis) they will not be able to offer terms.

As such the Axa manager will have a certain amount of Underwriting authority to make his own decisions. In the event of an accident with your vehicle, Axa (or their local agent) will be deemed to have accepted that your vehicle is on UK plates and, as a result, will have to meet any claim. However, if I were in your shoes, I would ask the question of your Axa agent and ask that you be given a positive response in writing that your insurance is fully valid despite the UK plates.

As with any insurance, better safe than sorry.

"Add to that the law which states that a resident of one country cannot own a car registered in another country"

A possibly dumb question. Does this mean that as an Australian resident, if I owned a house in France where I spent 6 months per year, I cant own a car to use while there


Chris, my reference to "money grabbing insurance broker"comes from my cynical view! I cannot understand how an insurance broker can agree to insure a car which by law and the head office's definition cannot be legally on the road.

My Axa broker was able to insure my Transit tipper for 6 months as per the law, after which they were not allowed to continue as it was still on UK plates - an Axa & industry wide policy according to my broker & confirmed by a letter from Axa themselves, but if I visit another Axa broker in the Charente Maritime, they WILL insure it for a year at a time! Perhaps there are 2 Axa insurance companies operating in France?

I'm even more suspicious as the broker can just print off the vignette on his computer so easily!