Who is liable when my kids cause an accident?

Accidents can happen, anywhere, any time - and even more so when you have kids! Luckily, if you have Haftpflichtversicherung, your kids - and any mishaps they might cause - are covered too.

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For anyone new to Germany, there is seemingly no end to the amount of indecipherable 6-syllable German words adorning most official bureaucratic forms. Many of my German friends don’t even understand some of the terminology used so what chance do I have? But here’s one I suggest you take note of, even if you can’t pronounce it, Haftpflichtversicherung.

Simply put, this isliability insurance, and I’ve learned the hard way why it’s a damn good idea and why 85% of the German population, in their endearingly sensible way, have also signed on the dotted line.

We all knowhealth insuranceis obligatory, and for good reason, but that only deals with the physical you, what about damage caused to other people/property in the event of a mishap?

Accidents happen. And with kids involved, as you know, accidents tend to happen on a far more regular basis. I have a 6-year-old boy who is chronically accident prone (what 6-year-old isn’t?) Don’t get me wrong, I love his enthusiasm, his indefatigable energy, his childlike joie de vivre, but a little carefulness wouldn’t go amiss at times; like the time he knocked his Apfelsaft all over the laptop of a guy sitting near us in a café. It might have been OK if we’d acted quickly, but the guy was at the loo, I was at the counter, and by the time I returned to a very guilty looking child, the drink had had plenty of time to soak thoroughly into the inner workings of the guy’s top-of-the-range Macbook Pro, causing irreparable damage.

The guy, needless to say, was not best pleased and wanted us to pay for a replacement, plus his loss of earnings, until he could work again. My son, needless to say, did not have enough in his piggy bank to cover it.

Had I been a bit more German about things, I would have already had Haftpflichtversicherung and enjoyed a tasty slice of Schadenfreude at the guy-in-the-café’s expense. Plus, it would have cost me a reasonable amount instead of almost €4,000…sob.

Needless to say, I am now the smug owner of a very comprehensive Haftpflichtversicherung policy and life suddenly feels so much safer. It isn’t of course - my mind boggles at the endless ‘what ifs’ that could so easily happen - what if the little one runs into the road, a car swerves to miss him and hits another car, or even worse, a pedestrian. Or what if the kids let the bath run over and cause huge water damage to my downstairs neighbours. Or what if I absent-mindedly leave my keys in the door, they’re stolen and as a result I have to pay for the lock to be changed, plus buy new keys for all our neighbours (this actually happened to a friend of mine, the horror!). Or what if our friend’s dog which we’re looking after bites someone or we’re doing our neighbours a favour in helping them move out and we drop a valuable vase...

All those ‘what ifs’ would still be embarrassing and/or shameful, but at least they wouldn’t be expensive. My family and I are now totally covered should we accidentally cause someone an injury, damage their property or cause them loss of earnings. I suddenly feel a lot more confident with regard to the potential dangers out there for me, my husband, my 6-year-old walking liability and his younger brother. Peace of mind for roughly the same price as a couple of Apfelsäfte a month - you’d be daft not to.

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