French insurance intermediaries

Insurance intermediaries are natural or legal persons who market insurance products to individuals and companies. They must be registered in the unique Register of Insurance, Banking and Finance Intermediaries (ORIAS).

insuranceBy 31 December 2019, the ORIAS lists 64 191 intermediaries, a number that is steadily increasing despite an economic context that is not very favorable to the French insurance market.

There are four categories of intermediaries: brokers, general insurance agents, insurance agents and insurance intermediaries' agents.

Insurance or reinsurance broker in France

The status of insurance or reinsurance broker is that of a trader. He represents the client vis-à-vis the companies with which he works. He is not bound by a contractual exclusivity to one or several insurance companies.

In December 2019, there were 24 988 insurance or reinsurance brokers in France, which, according to the ORIAS report, is a 2% increase compared to 2018.

General insurance agent

The general agent exercises a liberal profession, being the representative or exclusive agent of one or more insurance companies. There are 11 406 general agents in France in 2019.

Insurance representative

The insurance representative is a non-salaried individual or a legal entity, other than a general insurance agent. He is commissioned by an insurance company with or without contractual exclusivity.

Insurance intermediary representative

The insurance intermediary representative is a natural or legal person, commissioned by an insurance or reinsurance broker, a general insurance agent or an insurance agent.

The activity of insurance agents and insurance intermediaries is limited to providing the contributions and collecting them as well as, in life insurance, remitting the funds to the insured or beneficiaries. The management of insurance contracts and the settlement of claims are excluded from their functions.

Licensed insurance intermediaries: situation as at 31.12.2019

Insurance or reinsurance brokers
22 81823 26023 96724 47024 988
General insurance agents
11 69611 64311 51511 36411 406
Insurance representative
2 6112 5322 4332 5862 669
Insurance intermediary representative
17 60619 21621 13023 26525 036
53 38055 61858 35761 38664 191

* Because some intermediaries may hold one or more licenses, the total is not the sum of the four mentioned categories
Source : ORIAS 2017 and 2019 reports

Other distributors of insurance products in France

Banks: In the middle of the 1990's, some large banks entered the market, thus competing with insurance companies. The banks rely on the proximity and the complementarity of their services and products with those developed by the insurers: credit insurance, comprehensive homeowner’s insurance, …

Among the banking institutions that have invested in the field of insurance are BNP Paribas, Caisse d'Epargne, CIC, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale.

The risks of private individuals are the banks' privileged target.

Car dealers: Some car dealers and repair companies offer motor and two-wheeler insurance contracts for the vehicles they sell or repair. The ORIAS lists 7 554 of them.

Tour operators: They offer their customers travel insurance contracts.

Other players on the French insurance market

The insurance adjuster

Their role is essential. They are primarily tasked with the settlement of claims, responding at the request of the insurer, the insured or a judge.

The role of the adjuster is to draw up a report which determines the damaged goods, the circumstances of the loss, the amount of the damaged goods and the methods of restoration.

The Federation of adjusters' companies - Fédération des Sociétés d'Expertise (FSE) - has nearly 4 000 adjusters among its members.

The mediator

The insurance mediator comes into play in the context of a dispute between an insured or beneficiary and an insurance company or intermediary regarding the execution of a contract.

The company may have its own mediator or may have recourse to the mediator of the organization of which it is a member: FFA or GEMA.

The FFA charter does not oblige its members to follow the mediator's advice. The GEMA protocol, on the other hand, provides that the mediator's decision be binding on the insurance company concerned.

Approximately 15 000 disputes are submitted to mediation each year.

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