The Auto Insurance Contract – All about your insurance policy

It is sometimes difficult not to feel helpless in the face of an insurer when negotiating your new auto insurance contract.

Between the statement of the suspensive validity clauses, the encryption of the deductibles, and the details of the risks covered, the jargon specific to the world of insurance must imperatively become an integral part of your general culture.

You will thus avoid many disappointments.

The signing of an automobile insurance contract, because of its mandatory nature, is often experienced by the purchaser of a new vehicle as a simple formality, or even a chore.

Too many motorists will be content to give confidence in principle to the commercial proposition of their traditional insurer, without first checking that the level of coverage offered is indeed the one they really need, or that the exceptions provided for in the contract do not apply to them are not too unfavorable concerning their driving habits.

Find below the summary of the main points to know and master before making an appointment with the insurer.

What documents?

Before establishing your auto insurance contract, the future insured first fills out a questionnaire on which he declares a certain amount of detailed information.

Thanks to an information sheet provided by the insurer, the future insured then take note of the information relating to the prices and guarantees of his future insurance policy.

The document can be likened to an estimate with the difference that it does not bind the insurer on a legal level.

The proposal may also contain certain reservations, expressed in the form of limits or exclusions from the coverage of certain risks.

The insurer can even go so far as to refuse outright to insure an individual if the latter presents a too unfavorable profile.

The insurance proposal is generally accompanied by the delivery of a brochure or an information leaflet, documents having the main advantage of summarizing the risks covered and the services offered in a more synthetic way than the draft contract.

The subscriber of the insurance must sign on the insurance policy having read this information notice.

The insurance policy is then signed by the insurer and the insured.

This is the official document that proves the existence of the auto insurance contract.

This document contains the general and specific conditions.

Before signing, be particularly vigilant about:

  • The number of deductibles,
  • The amount of insured capital,
  • The scope of warranty exclusions
  • Any delays before implementation of the guarantees.
  • Check the number of your premiums (monthly or annual),
  • Check the cash value of your vehicle (new or obsolete?), what compensation is provided by your insurance if your car burns?


Who takes out the contract?

The main driver: any car covered by an insurance contract must be linked to a “designated” driver who must be the signatory of the insurance contract.

He alone will be authorized, in the eyes of the insurer, to use the vehicle in the usual way.

This does not mean, however, that the designated driver will necessarily be the holder of the gray card.

The vehicle can be owned by someone other than the insured.

The main driver is opposed to the occasional driver who cannot appear by name on the contract and who is supposed to use the vehicle very occasionally.

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The amount of the premium

The calculation of the price of your auto insurance premium will depend on a calculation combining the risks related to the profile of the driver, the type of vehicle, and then the use that will be made of it.

These elements will allow the insurance company to measure the risk represented by the driver.

The driver’s profile

If you come directly from the competition, the information statement published by your previous insurer will allow the new one to more precisely determine your profile, and in particular your claims experience.

That is to say your propensity to suffer claims, as well as the associated bonus/penalty coefficient.

In addition to this valuable history for the new insurer, your simple marital status is likely to greatly influence the amount of the premium you will have to pay: a couple thus presents a more secure profile than a single person, as does the insurance of a single person. ‘a young driver will be higher than that of a more experienced one.

Women, until recently, paid less than men according to the same statistical reasoning: this practice was however ruled discriminatory by the Court of Justice of the European Communities and officially ended on December 21, 2012.


Type of vehicle

The type of vehicle you drive will have a significant effect on the amount of the premium.

The gray card, the original of which must be presented to the insurer before signing, contains a lot of useful

information for the latter: make, model, fiscal power, type of mine, and the date of first entry into circulation are taken into account.

Account to better assess the risk represented by the circulation of this vehicle on public roads.

The conditions of use of the vehicle

Depending on the places where you will be driving or parking, a significant additional cost may apply to your contract.

The usual parking place for your vehicle, especially at night, will be judged differently depending on whether it is a closed garage (the safest case), a covered place, or a public highway.

Likewise, an auto insurance premium in Paris will be higher than that resulting in a provincial town.

Indeed, large cities such as Paris, Marseille, and Lyon, .. are more accident-prone than average because of the density of traffic and crime.

They negatively influence the price of insurance.

The premium will also be affected if you plan to use the vehicle intensively (leisure, work, or both).

The guarantees offered by the insurer
Before submitting an insurance proposal, the agent waits for the driver to choose a warranty for his car.

Third-party insurance or “civil liability”

The “civil liability” guarantee constitutes the essential and compulsory basis of any automobile insurance contract.

Contracts with third-party insurance cover damages and injuries you may inflict on a third party or to the public space as part of your driving.

However, it does not provide for reimbursement of injuries and damage suffered by you or your vehicle in the event of a responsible accident.

Third-party plus insurance, with theft, fire, and broken glass

As its name suggests, the formula is intended to be a little more protection for its beneficiary since the insurer then undertakes to reimburse the damage caused as a result of a theft, a fire, or even breakage of ice, most often of course with certain exclusion cases duly mentioned in the contract.


Comprehensive insurance

Both the most comprehensive and the most expensive, all-risk insurance guarantees reimbursement of damage regardless of whether the accident is responsible or not, with, however, the application of a penalty coefficient in the first case.

It is the replacement value of the vehicle at the time of the accident that is used to determine the amount of the damage, apart from special provisions providing, for example, reimbursement at the price of new for two years.

Other guarantees can be added to the insurance contract, such as the driver’s bodily guarantee, legal assistance, etc.

What are the pitfalls to avoid?

Exclusion clauses: know them to better protect yourself against them

The definition of exclusion of guarantee clause in the contract allows the insurance to refine the treatment of risk and to exclude any repair in certain cases.

This is the case, for example, of a theft from a vehicle without any trace of break-in (suggesting that the owner had not locked the doors) or laceration of the interior seats (suggesting improper use. of the vehicle by its owner).

Carefully reread all of the clauses of this type appearing in the contract before signing, and do not hesitate to underline any provisions that you consider to be abusive.

Note that clauses referring to forfeitures or exclusions of warranty must be mentioned in legible characters on pain of nullity.



Deductibles are very widespread in auto insurance contracts, to leaves the responsibility of the insured to pay for repairs below a certain threshold.

This is an acceptable practice, provided that it is not abused by setting thresholds that are too unfavorable for the insured.

This threshold should be assessed according to each risk: a deductible of a few hundred euros is thus adapted to the risk of accident or theft, but not to glass breakage, where the threshold should rather be counted in tens of euros…

After signing

The purchase of auto insurance is most often carried out in a relatively urgent context since it is compulsory to obtain it before setting off for the first time with your new vehicle.

Thus, you can usefully request from your insurer the immediate delivery of a provisional insurance certificate, which will serve as proof with the authorities until receipt of the final auto insurance contract, by mail, or in person.

The insurance sticker to be affixed to the windshield will be given to you upon signature most of the time.