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Shafted by my new insurance company - UPDATED


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The situation is simple, but I'm not sure what rights I have.

In January this year, I was persuaded by my bank (CA) to change my health insurance to their company (Pacifica). To make the process easier for me, they promised to handle the cancellation (resiliation) of my existing contract with Swiss Life. I signed a "mandat de delegation" authorising them to do this. So far, so good.

In late Feb they sent a letter of resiliation to Swiss Life, and a week later, Swiss Life replied to Pacifica, declining to accept the resiliation. (Apparently, health insurance can only be cancelled by the assuree, and not by an agent). Pacifica didn't bother to tell me. In fact, they did nothing.

So, come the 1st June (renewal date), the new Pacifica contract kicks in, and so does the un-cancelled Swiss Life contract. I am now paying twice for health insurance. I am not happy.

My view is that as Pacifica didn't keep their side of the contract (ie they failed to resile the old contract), the contract is null and void. If this was the UK, I'm fairly happy I could argue this position successfully, but this is France.

I'd prefer to stay with Swiss Life now. Apart from the fact they've reduced their premium so it's closer to that of Pacifica, I've lost all confidence in Pacifica.

So, do I have enough reason to walk away from Pacifica, and if so, how do I go about it? I can't see them letting go of me willingly, so I'm thinking I may have to ask our Notaire for advice/help.


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I have been in a similar situation, I will spare you the details, if you are not going to get stressed by increasingly official looking and menacing letters from false huissiers that in fact have no validity over a very long period then you could choose to follow my route.

Dont pay, and tell them you will never pay, aside from all the arguments that you can put forward including that the law forbids you to have policies covering the same risk and that each of them would be nullified by their conditions, when they are finally convinced that you are not going to roll over and pay like all the others do after the intimidation they will eventaully give up, in fact the insurers themselves give up relatively early but sell the alleged debt on to debt collectors who have even less rights, only the insurer can take you to a tribunal not someone whom your details have been sold to.

Write by recorded delivery saying you will not pay and why, that you will not respond to any further correspondence and if they are daft enough to continue with this injust pursuit you look forward to putting the same facts forward in court and all the attendant negative publicity it will bring them.

In wont appear to do anything, the threats will escalate, dont respond to anything, the only recorded delivery letter you will get will be the one saying that they are making a resiliation of your contract, this is a good sign even though the letter will say that you remain liable for the debt, it will already by then have passed into the hands of the debt collectors, they may present themselves as huissiers but they are definitely not acting in that capacity, some of the letters are very clever, quite frightening and even quite educated French people were convinced that a court had already made a judgement against me.

Dont rely on French friends for help/advice, they are likely to be petrified and think that you are going to be sent to prison and wont see the wood from the trees, the best advice i got was from the secretary at the huissier I use, "nothing but empty threats, forget all about it" (also the view of the huissier himself).

Eventually after 18 months in my case it all came to an abrupt stop as i had been advised it would, now in my case everything was multiplied by 3 as I had cancelled all my policies with the *** agent, all 3 pursuits stopped at exactly 18 months (they started at different times for the reneawl of each policy) and there were the exact same number of final warnings in each case, about 18 if my memory serves me right.

Good luck, and please look into what I said about multiple insurances, you could be paying twice to get nothing.

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Thanks for the reply, Chancer, and the good wishes.

As long as I knew that I was LEGALLY in the right, I could stand out against the threats. If, on the other hand, I was making the stand on MORAL grounds, well, I don't want to be a martyr, dying for some principle - life's too short.

So there's my dilemma. I need someone like a Notaire, or the french equivalent of the CAB, to tell me that the law is on my side. "The sword of truth and the shield of whatever it was". Otherwise, if it's a mexican stand-off, I'll blink first.

Moral coward, that's me.

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As far as I know you cannot legally have two health policies. The Swiss life one is still valid, as it hasn't been cancelled' therefore the new one  isn't. Don't pay for the new one, 'faire opposition' at the bank to any payments to it, and send a letter as Chaucer says.

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Consumer rights are a joke in France. They just ignore letters of complaint or even pretend that they never arrived or the envelope was empty.

You could try your local consumer advise service - or complain to the bank regulator.

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Battle has commenced.

Today I sent two letters "recommende avec avis de reception" (sp?).

The first is going to Pacifica saying that as they'd failed to resile my old contract, they'd failed in their part of the contract. So, I have no contract with them, and can I have my first month's premium back.

The second is to my bank, telling them not to pay the monthly preleve, as I've cancelled the contract. Whether they will or not is a different matter - as Pacifica is their insurance company, I know whose side they'll be on in the dispute.

I'll keep you up to date with the campaign, at least till CA have me deported!

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The trouble is, Credit Agricole and Pacifica are linked. We bank and insure with them.

They should still cancel your prelevement though (unless there's something in the small print.)

edit - sorry , just read your recent post.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Well, Credit Agricole has paid this month's prelevement to Pacifica, despite receiving the "recommende avec avis de reception" letter, telling them not to.

I just knew they would.....

I shall go and ask them, as politely as possible, what they're playing at. In the meantime, I'm off to La Poste to see about opening another account.
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I didn't know there was a "faire opposition" form. The bank certainly didn't tell me (no surprise there....).

My letter to the bank was composed and translated by a bi-lingual french friend. Apart from other things, it said "Si un (prelevement) se presente, veuille faire opposition". I assumed this was enough.


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I believe that, as it's a direct debit/prelevement, I have given authority to Pacifica to take the money. So, not so easy to stop. But, yes, the bank should do what I, it's Customer, wants. In theory.

I guess when I challenge them, they'll shrug their shoulders and give me (1) we can't stop it (wrong) or (2) a mistake, sorry.

Plan B (a replacement bank account with another bank) is looking more attractive....

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I don't think that a bank should refuse your instructions, but french banks? Well, my sad experience is that seem to do what they want and care not.


What I would say is watch out if you change banks. What would you do,  leave an account with a € in it in your old bank, or just close the account.

Re closing the account, certainly in the past the banks used to have a hefty charge to close an account. If memory serves, Sarkozy was going to address that but I don't know whether he did.


And leaving leaving the account open with a tiny balance, well, in spite of saying that you want them to refuse all payments, they still may pay, leaving your account in debit. In fact I have so little faith in french banks, that even if you close the account, if a prelevement arrives,they may well open the account again and put it in debit.  I think that you would need to look at your account carefully as you do not want to end up being reported to the Banque de France.

And the Banque de France......... well, I've tried calling them and asking about banking regulations and they have been as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

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I found this (in French) which confirms that you seem to have done all that is necessary:

Si vous voulez arrêter l’opération de prélèvement automatique, vous

devrez adresser à votre créancier une lettre de cessation d’émission de

prélèvement. Des réceptions du courrier, il doit cesser de se faire

payer par cette voie.

Ensuite vous devez adresser également un courrier recommandé avec

accusé de réception à votre banque, lui signifiant de cesser les

paiements demandés par les créanciers nommés.

Une fois votre courrier reçu, la banque rejettera toute demande ultérieure de demande de Prélèvement automatique.

There are specimen letters to use for the bank, the person taking the payments (creancier ) here



– prénom





et adresse de la banque


………, le ………..

Objet :

LRAR - Opposition à prélèvement




demandé à (nom de l’organisme)

de ne pas vous présenter le prélèvement d’un montant de (montant

en chiffres et en lettres)
annoncé à la date du (date).


le prélèvement vous était présenté malgré cette opposition, je

vous demande de le rejeter.


vous en remercie par avance, et vous prie d’agréer, Madame,

Monsieur, l’expression de ma considération distinguée.


If you are still not happy you can go to the Médiateur de la Banque


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#NormanH, many thanks for that. It's good to have confirmation that my letter was correct, and there was no reason for it not to be acted upon. (Though, when I go and ask them, they'll probably find one.)

#idun, I have thought of closing the account, or abandoning it with a few euros and the one (cancelled....) prelevement, but if there's a chance that doing so will end up with CA dropping me in the merde, I can't take the risk. Drat!

I'm thinking I need to get some trusted advice from the french themselves. I'll start with CLCV - the legal advice section is chargeable, but unless it's an arm and a leg, I'll go down that route.

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It is unfortunate, but I have had bad experiences with french banking and so have people I know. I don't trust them. I still cannot work out how they can ever balance their books, and that was always my job, balancing books!

I spoke to my current bank a couple of weeks ago and said that for all in branch they were fine and did the best they could...... and they do....... I wouldn't trust the people at the siege as far as I could throw them. And I mean it, and yet this is the best bank we have used.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've just spoken to the CLCV legal hotline.

They told me, quite specifically, that Swiss Life could NOT refuse the demand by Pacifica to resile/terminate my contract with them. Why they did, who knows?

I have to go back to Pacifica and insist they complete the resiliation, as it is their responsibility.

In the meantime, since I signed (in good faith) new paperwork with Swiss Life, they will continue to take their monthly prelevement, leaving me paying both each month till they settle the matter between themselves, and I don't suppose they'll be in any hurry.

I would not want to stop the prelevement to Swiss Life (assuming the bank would do it, if I asked.....) without very reliable and written confirmation that my only contract is with Pacifica. Maybe I do need to visit an Avocat. Any ideas how I go about finding one locally?

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Ask at your Mairie or Barraux des Avocats and ask if where and when you can get a free appointment with an avocat. This is possible.

I'd also be calling your CLCV hotline and again and asking if you can see someone, if that is your legal cover via your insurance, then that should be free.

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