Road-legal at last

Finally! I’m able to ride the bike legally in France! The entire process from start to finish has taken seven months. Of course, now that winter has arrived, I can’t actually ride anywhere anyway. It’s not that I mind the weather, but in order to get the bike to a tarmac surface entails a journey down a farm track with slippery wet grass and mud for 300 metres.

So, here’s what happened after the Carte Gris (French registration certificate) arrived.

I contacted an insurance company called “Agence Eaton“. Why? Because this agency “translates” the UK NCB (no claims bonus) into the French equivalent (called a “Bonus Malus”). Having approached other insurance companies, I discovered that each one wanted documented proof of my existing French “Bonus Malus”. Stating that I did not have a French “Bonus Malus” immediately put me into the highest insurance risk bracket, with prices approaching or even exceeding €1,000.

Now comparing that with the annual £98 I was paying in the UK left me feeling very slightly annoyed.

So, on the 5th October, I accepted the quote from Agence Eaton for an annual insurance policy, at around €300. However, I had to exclude fire and theft from the policy because my ST1100 does not have every single part marked with a French-recognised identification system. Each part IS marked, but it’s with a Thatcham-approved Honda Smartwater tag. And that isn’t good enough for French insurers, apparently.

On the 12th October, I received the Insurance disc in the post. Oh dear. It was valid from 10/10/2012 to 09/11/2012.

My wife called the agency to ask why it was only valid for a month when I’d paid for an entire year, and was told that this was just a temporary certificate; the proper one would be sent to us within a week.

Unfortunately life became rather busy with my other project, and it was only on the 12th November (two days after the expiry of the temporary certificate) that I realised I had not received the full annual certificate. My wife once again called Agence Eaton, and was told that they were about to post it, and that we would receive it the following week.

19th November: Still no certificate. My wife called Agence Eaton again. She was informed that it had been posted by second class mail (read: escargot), and we would receive it the following week.

27th November: Still no certificate. My wife called Agence Eaton yet again – this time knowing the number by heart. This time she was told that the Agency had not yet received the certificate from the insurers, but it would be with us the following week.

1st December: The annual, full, correct certificate arrived in the post.

The thing is, in the UK if you want to change insurers, you simply don’t renew with your existing insurer, and just sign up with a new one. It’s all very seamless in my experience. In France, two months before your insurance policy is due to expire, you need to send the insurers a registered letter telling them you will be cancelling your policy on the expiry date. Only then can you start getting prices from other insurance companies.

Guess what I’ll be doing on the 9th August 2013? Yes, posting a registered letter to Agence Eaton telling them where they can put their next policy.

Perhaps I’ll do a web page about French customer service along these lines:

So, having excluded fire and theft from the policy, I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly is covered. Well, third party of course. And accident damage. With particular reference to wild animals. Which, living in a countryside over-run with wild boar, is particularly useful.

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