German Insurance basics

There is a lot to think about when moving to Germany. Insurance unfortunately is one of these things. We’ll provide you with the basics here, what should you watch out for, and where you can find further information. And if you don’t want to read the whole thing get your own quick version here: Basic Checkup Tool Link.

Private liability insurance

German law (Das bürgerliche Gesetzbuch, paragraph 823) states that you are liable for (even accidental) damage dealt to others with your entire assets. Including money you haven’t earned yet.

What is covered? Some examples:

  • You forget to clear the snow in front of your house. Someone trips, falls and sues you. This is covered.
  • You’re on your bike and don’t spot an elderly lady who is crossing the road and knock her over. She has to go to hospital. This is covered.
  • You’re listening to music on your phone, and cross the street absentmindedly. A motorbike has to dodge you and hits a lamp-post. You’re liable for all following costs (bike, lamp-post and hospital). The damage is covered.

What isn’t covered?

  • Car accidents
  • Your pets
  • Extreme sports

This one is one that everyone in Germany should have, due to the nature of German law. You’re liable for payments until you die if you’re unlucky. It’s really cheap, so this one is a no brainer (3–4 Euros per month). Get it asap.

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Health insurance

This is required by law in Germany. But… the German health system is a bit funny. There is public coverage which is “pay a fixed % of your income”, and private coverage which is “pay a sum based on your risk profile”. As a general rule if you’re young and earn over €60k a year then private will be cheaper … in the short term. But long term if you’re planning on having kids or are not sure that you’ll earn at least as much for the rest of your life then staying in the public system is the better option. If you’re a high income person without kids, and don’t plan on staying in Germany for ever, then private is a no-brainer for you!

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Car insurance

The liability part of this one you need if you have a car. It’s mandated by law, and makes a lot of sense. This covers all damage to others, as long as it wasn’t intentional. And as with all types of German liability insurance, it doesn’t cover your car. So: if you rely on your car for your job we’d recommend a full-kasko (insure the full value of your car against basically everything), if it’s a non essential nice extra, then we’d recommend teil-kasko (pay for damages that you are responsible for yourself).

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Job insurance

In German this one is called “Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung”, which means “if you’re unable to do your job insurance” but in one word. This one is great for surgeons, if they lose a finger and can’t perform surgery any more. Or for footballers if they break a leg in a way that can’t be fixed. For most knowledge based workers it rarely happens that you’re so injured that you can’t do your job — so it’s quite cheap. We’d only recommend it if you have people relying on you, or have a mortgage you need to cover for.

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Life insurance

This one pays out if you die. So… it’s not really that useful for you personally. Rather it’s for the people that depend on you. So if you have any people depend financially on only you, then this one is also really important, and is also relatively cheap if you’re young. This one gets more expensive the older you get — but that isn’t really surprising is it!

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House insurance

The “Hausratversicherung” covers all the movable stuff in your house. This one is worth it if you have expensive items in the house. It can also optionally cover things like a laptop, and your bike. If you’re renting a place and don’t really own any expensive furniture, we’d recommend only covering your important items stand-alone if you want to cover them. E.g. get only a bike insurance, rather than a house insurance that also includes a bike insurance.

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Pet insurance

Depending on where you live, you’re also required by law to have a liability insurance for you dog and horse. Click here and scroll down to see if you need one.

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Other insurance

Some jobs require additional insurance — e.g. architects, some medical jobs, lawyers, some jobs in middle management but also car-dealers and car mechanic. This is usually a job liability insurance.

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Find out more

Hope this helps, and here is a free tool to give you a first quick check up: Basic Checkup Tool Link

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