Accidents Happen

Sorting out a bit of a bump or even a more serious collision can be stressful, to say the least, in your own country. When you add the complication of dealing with the situation in a foreign language and involving different laws it can all go pear shaped very quickly.

In the unlikely event that you find yourself involved in an incident there are a few things you should know that hopefully will take some of the stress out of the situation.

No matter where in the world an accident happens, the first question should be is anyone injured? If there are casualties you need to call the Fire Service. In France ambulances are usually operated by taxi firms and are for patient transport to and from hospital appointments. The Fire Service – Sapeurs-Pompiers – operate the equivalent of our Para-medic ambulances and attend accidents where there are casualties. Dial 18 to contact the Sapeurs-Pompiers or use the nearest emergency phone which will be coloured orange with SOS written on it. If everyone at the scene produces a mobile phone, don’t assume one of them will have called for help.

To prevent other vehicles adding to the problem you are required to place a warning triangle at least 30 meters behind your vehicle to warn on-coming drivers of the situation. You should also be wearing your hi-vis jacket.

So, hopefully there are no injuries to people but what about the cars? As part of your “Driving in France Kit” you should carry an Accident Report Form – Constat Amiable d’Accident. A copy of the form is available at the end of this article. The form allows a clear record of the event to be recorded – name of drivers, vehicle details, insurance details, damage, injuries etc. Carrying or completing this form is not obligatory but it can help settle any insurance claim or legal dispute more quickly and without unnecessary stress. People’s’ memories change over a period of time and a concise record of events can be worth its weight in gold. The attached form is in both English and French and each driver completes his or her half of the page. Complete your side of the form with the facts as you see them. Don’t worry if the other driver has a different version – you don’t have to agree. Once you have both completed as much as possible the form should be signed and each party should take a copy. If you use the downloaded form you will need either to fill in two copies. These forms are available from most insurance companies with self carboning pages.

As well as recording the accident on paper it’s a good idea to take a few photographs of the scene and in particular the damage to the vehicles involved. A photograph can provide evidence that the other car was involved.

The police are not normally involved in minor accidents. They will attend if there are casualties or the road is blocked. If the other driver involved is being awkward or you think they may disappear or you have concerns that the situation could be difficult, call the police.

It can take much longer in France to build up a no-claims bonus and and French drivers are prepared to pay for damage (assuming it is their fault) rather than involve their insurance company. If you are happy that the amount offers will repair the damage there’s no problem in accepting this solution.

Finally, you should not forget to tell your insurance company that you are taking your car to France. They will tell you how long you can take it to France for and send you proof that you are insured for continental driving. There may also be an extra premium to pay. They usually send an Accident Report Form for you to carry with you.

Click here to see Accident Report Statement

Don’t forget to protect the property in your car – Aviva Travel Insurance

Share this Article