Insurance

Insurances in Germany

Wherever you travel in the world, you'll find ways to guard against life's unavoidable risks - from home contents, to accident, travel or life insurance.

Germany is no exception. As you might expect from a country that's so keen on rules and orderly arrangements, all of the major forms of insurance can be found here. You might not need to use them all, but this guide will introduce the main forms of insurance and explain why they may be essential.

Liability Insurance

Known in German as Haftpflichtversicherung, liability insurance refers to policies which protect the holder against claims by others

What is liability insurance in Germany?

Liability insurance in Germany covers the cost of damages that policyholders cause to persons or objects. Because the German legal system holds individuals accountable for almost all damages, it is a very popular form of insurance for professionals like carers, tutors, and au pairs. It may also be taken out by students renting apartments, who are concerned about damaging the property of landlords or neighbors.

Car insurance is a common variety, providing some degree of protection should you become involved in an accident. As with many countries, car insurance is actually one of Germany's compulsory insurances, and every driver will need to be insured before they can hit the road.

However, there are other common forms. Many au pairs are advised to take out liability insurance when they arrive. That way, they can protect themselves against claims for damaged property at their host's home (which is bound to happen if employees aren't covered).

In Germany, renters can also be held accountable for damages caused to other people's property. So, if your washing machine leaks into the neighboring flat, you could be liable for repair costs.

The solution to all of these issues is a simple third party liability policy. Policies can be found for €80 per year from some companies.

When you find a policy, check that it covers negligence (at least in common cases like causing water damage), as not all policies will do so.

Home Insurance

Home insurance (or "Hausratversicherung") involves policies that cover damage to the contents or structure of the holder's home

This type of insurance should cover events such as flooding, storms, and fires, and it provides coverage for both the home and possessions within.

With a good flat insurance policy in place, you will be guarded against theft, at least to some extent. While insurance can't stop intruders accessing properties, it makes the losses easier to bear. This can be crucial for residents who are dependent on their high-value devices computers or smartphones.

Do you need home insurance if you have good liability insurance?

Perhaps. While Germany isn't a dangerous country at all, burglaries have increased slightly in the past few years.  With an annual home insurance cost of  €50-60 in many cases, it's an expense many people are happy to make to secure peace of mind.

Insurance companies

In Germany, insurance companies will often bundle together policies for the theft of possessions with those to deal with damage caused by the holder. This makes home insurance polices a popular investment among tenants, and your landlord may well advise that you take out a policy upon arrival.

Term Life Insurance

Life insurance ("Risikolebensversicherung") deals with unforeseen risks that could end the holder's life prematurely

Without getting too morbid, it's generally taken out by those with high net wealth, and who want to shield their family against the financial consequences of an early death.

If you're moving to Germany on your own, or you're a couple with no dependents, then life insurance may not be a priority. But it can be a sensible precaution for families.

What types of life insurance are there in Germany?

When it comes to life insurance, Germany offers quite a varied portfolio of options. This includes plenty of "term life insurance" policies, named so as they are purchased for fixed terms (such as 5, 10, or 20 years). These policies can be ideal for those who are moving to Germany for a set period, or who aren't sure how long they will remain in the country.

You can also index life insurance to debts such as mortgages. In this case, premiums will reduce as the mortgage nears completion, ensuring that loved ones aren't left with a huge obligation should the worst happen.

Accident Insurance

Accident insurance (Unfallversicherung) protects holders against unforeseen events that result in subsequent costs

These could be costs to repair equipment such as vehicles or to fund long-term medical costs that aren't covered by health policies.

In Germany, all employees are covered by relatively generous accident insurance. If incidents occur on your commute to and from the workplace, or you are the victim of a workplace accident, your treatment and lost earnings should be covered.

However, that leaves a huge amount of potential activities that aren't covered by the state. For example, residents who play football, want to explore the Alpine slopes, or have a passion for mountain biking may want to take out an accident policy.

Did you know?

Did you know that in Germany, it's also possible to insure specific body parts such as eyes or fingers, which could be beneficial for certain occupations?

Repatriation Insurance

Or in German, "Rückführungsversicherung", supports holders in the most unpredictable event of one’s life

Being a type of accident-related insurance, repatriation insurance offers its holders a more specific coverage for the worst-case scenario, an unexpected demise in a foreign country.

Although it deals with a very sensitive topic, this coverage is extremely relevant for international students and workers living abroad. The repatriation insurance covers the repatriation of the body in case of death.

This coverage may be included in travel insurances. However, when the travel insurance expires you are no longer protected. Expatrio offers you repatriation insurance as an extension to the public health insurance. Visit our Insurances page to know more about the topic.

Travel Insurance

Learn more about the travel insurance, also known as "Reiseversicherung" in Germany

Travel insurance is a mandatory requirement when applying for a German visa if those arriving in Germany haven't taken out a health insurance policy. So, many people visiting for academic terms or short-term positions will find it necessary to find a travel insurance policy.

With their travel insured, international visitors can feel free to explore the rest of Europe without worrying about lost luggage or flight cancellations. Moreover, German health insurance policies usually won't reach across borders, but good travel policies will apply across the Schengen region.

Travel insurance also makes it easier to hop between home countries and Germany. If visitors plan to regularly visit relatives back home for Christmas, birthdays, or other special occasions, travel policies will guard against canceled flights and luggage mishaps.

Travel insurance policies can be purchased with different terms, and often represents a useful alternative to full-blown health insurance in certain cases (where a residency or visit to Germany is rather temporary).

Legal Assistance Insurance

This type of insurance, in Germany known as "Rechtsschutzversicherung", covers legal costs in case you need a lawyer

Germans have a high level of respect for the legal profession, which isn't too surprising in a nation centered around order and correct procedure. As a result, should you require legal assistance while in Germany, the quality of advice will be uniformly high.

It's unlikely that you'll need to worry about unscrupulous operators over-charging, but there's no denying that legal costs in Germany can be high. So, legal assistance insurance is a solution that may apply to some residents.

This form of insurance will cover legal costs up to a certain amount (which varies depending on the policy).

Legal Assistance Insurance Policies

Policies are generally sold along specific lines. So, for example, you'll find policies for medical practitioners, drivers, the self-employed, and investors. There may also be options regarding tax payments, helping to reduce costs for high net worth individuals.

How does insurance work in Germany?

Insurance in Germany works in the same way as most developed nations

Customers purchase policies for fixed terms with specific benefits. They then pay for these policies via regular premiums. Some forms of insurance can feature flexible premiums, such as life insurance, while others are more rigid.

Health insurance is slightly different to many other nations. All residents of Germany must be enrolled in health insurance schemes, which can be either state provided (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) or private (private Krankenversicherung, PKV).

If you are employed and earn less than €60,000, you will only be eligible for state-provided insurance options. Those earning above that threshold can purchase private policies, as can all self-employed residents. This may deliver savings for healthy individuals. Find out more about health insurance on our German Health Insurance pages.

Which types of insurance in Germany are really necessary?

Every person coming to or living in Germany will require their own mix of insurance policies, and as you can see, there are plenty of different forms. If you intend to pursue a medical trade, legal assistance and liability insurance will be essential.

Accident insurance may be advantageous for active sportsmen or drivers, while those who want to explore Europe will benefit from extensive travel insurance policies. Just buy the policies that make sense for your own unique needs.