Insurance in Germany
If you live in Germany, there are a number of German insurances to consider to ensure you are adequately covered by insurance in Germany.
Thinking about insurance is something you have to face when settling into a new country. One of the key things to remember in taking out insurance in Germany is to shop around.
The German insurance market has been extremely competitive in recent years, resulting in aggressive price structures with low profit margins. In early 2012, there was a slight contra-tendency with a soft price increase. As an existing insurance customer, it is not uncommon to react to price increases with termination of a running contract to negotiate a better deal with the same insurance company by referring to a competitor's tariff. They are often able to propose a different rate out of their tariff jungle.
In general, it really does pay to try to keep an eye on various media, web sites in particular, or to look up consumer guides to insurance to make sure you are getting the best deal. This includes a German consumer agency (Stiftung Warentest) which is constantly comparing prices and products. Their website is www.warentest.de. A major insurance comparison portal is Financescout 24.
Once you settle on an insurer, don’t be surprised if an agent wants to drop by your house to take you through what is on offer and maybe even size you up for cover that you had not planned on. Needless to say, the list of what can be insured seems to be endless.
These are the basic German insurances you need to consider when living in Germany.
Anyone living in Germany should consider taking out Haftpflichtversicherung (personal liability insurance). This covers cases of liability for injury or damage to other persons or their property. You are covered whether the negligence was yours or that of a family member or even, in some cases, your pet. It does not cover damages that have been caused by your car ( you need to take out a separate insurance for this), but it covers liability for damages caused for example, by riding a bicycle.
The next on the list is Hausratversicherung (household contents insurance) covers the contents of your home against fire, theft, water damage, vandalism and hail. It is not compulsory, but you may find that it is a required part of some rental contracts.
As in any country, it is advisable to keep a list of all items (and receipts if possible) you insure and even photos of some of the more valuable items in case of theft.
In big cities, bicycle theft is a major problem. So if you own a somewhat expensive cycle you should also check whether this can be included in the household contents policy or you may need to take out an additional policy.
Accident and disability
Then there is ‘Unfallversicherung’ (accident and disability insurance). Unfallversicherung policies are essentially tailored to payout in the case of death or income support if you are hospitalized or unable to work. The policy may even pay damages in case of an injury and any cost relating to cosmetic surgery. Disability insurance pays a lump sum in the case of injury.
Some insurers link the premiums paid for Unfallversicherung to a pension payment later in retirement, but it is important to compare what is around and not to take the first offer. Indeed, you should be prepared to ask lots of questions about the possible benefits before agreeing to an Unfallversicherung linked to a pension. It is advisable to keep the invoices for your accident and disability insurance on file, as all taxpayers are able to deduct these expenses from the yearly tax statements as they are considered as a kind of social security investment.
Now we move on to Rechtsschutzversicherung (legal insurance). This covers legal costs up to a set amount. Rechtsschutzversicherung can be taken out for the whole family.
There are several variations of Rechtsschutzversicherung, however, the most popular one is a general Rechtsschutzversicherung, which also covers work-related matters or issues resulting from renting a property. In addition, it is advisable to look for a Verkehrsrechtsschutz policy to help out with any issues that may arise from driving your car.
Inability to work
Another insurance which some people, especially those working on a self-employed basis, might want to consider is cover for Berufsunfähigkeit (inability to work). This is supposed to cover you if because of, say an illness or accident, you are unable to work. Some people also use it to top up benefits that they would receive from the income provided under the government’s Erwerbsminderungsrente.
Many banks as well as insurance companies offer Berufsunfähigkeit, and it is possible that the insurer may also offer it to you as part of a private retirement scheme.
You should also be aware that there various types of Berufsunfähigkeit policies. The most common one is Berufsunfähigkeitversicherung (also known as BU), which offers cover for pension payments while you are out of the workforce. An alternative, which is offered by most insurers, is the Erwerbsunfähigkeitsversicherung, which offers a permanent income or pension, if you are not only unable to do your original profession, but also unable to do any other alternative profession. Again, these expenses can be deducted when you prepare your yearly tax return statement as social security expenses.
Andrew McCathie / Expatica
Updated in 2012 by Marco Dilenge, Marketing Manager Continental Europe, Crown Worldwide Group, the parent company of Crown Relocations.
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