An introduction to insurance in Germany
Congratulations – you’ve moved to the land of long words and insurance lovers. And oh, what fun when you can combine those two things! Try this on for size – Hundehaftpflichtversicherung. Trips off the tongue, right? Still, if you’ve just arrived, horse and dog liability insurance probably won’t be your first priority. If you’re feeling a bit faint after just looking at that word, don’t worry - we’ve put together a simple overview of the main types of insurance in Germany - from the must-have to the nice-to-have.
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Mandatory and non-mandatory insurance
Like most things in this wonderful country, insurance in Germany is complicated. The one type of insurance that absolutely everyone must have is health insurance. In case you got that already then you should our quick guide of mandatory and must have insurances.
Personal liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)
You may think that a conversation about insurance wouldn’t yield particularly extreme reactions, but this is Germany and things work a little differently here. If you want to see a German absolutely horrified, simply mention that you don’t have Haftpflichtversicherung – stick around long enough to watch their jaw drop and then you should probably start running (unless you want to endure a lengthy lecture).
Still, the Germans might be onto something here. German Private liability insurance covers you, your family and a small pet if damage is caused to someone else or their property. And, as there’s no ceiling on the level of damages someone can be awarded in Germany, you might find yourself penniless quite quickly. Coverage starts at around €4 a month which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind you’ll have. So, feel free to bring your frisky cat along to visit your friend with the fragile crystal collection…
Household contents or home insurance (Hausratversicherung)
Hausratversicherung (home contents insurance) is another useful one to have. It covers you for loss of, or damage to, your own property. Coverage includes the risks of fire, burglary, storm damage, water damage and/or vandalism. So, if that adorable kitty somehow manages to turn on the taps and ends up flooding your apartment, your furniture, clothing, collectibles, sports equipment, valuables and electronics will be covered. Starting at around 2 EUR a month, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new laptop. For those who are not at a level where they can fluently read terms and conditions in German, Luko has even English Private Liability Terms and Conditions.
However, if that mischievous little furball breaks a window, you’ll wish you’d taken out a separate Glasversicherung policy as broken windows – for some reason probably only the Germans understand – aren’t covered by standard home contents insurance. Luckly Luko is not your standard home contents insurance.
If you’re keen on becoming a proper German, you’ll probably want to invest in a new set of (two) wheels pretty soon. Some Hausratversicherung policies will also cover theft of your bike – rampant in some of the bigger cities – just be sure to check, as you might need to take out a separate Fahrraddiebstahl policy. Both Haftpflichtversicherung and Hausratversicherung may be required by some landlords (who may or may not allow your cat).
Occupational disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeits-Versicherung)
Another fun word to say – Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung – however, this type of insurance will cover you if you find yourself in the rather un-fun situation of being unable to work due to illness or an accident. Coverage starts at around €20 a month and it makes sense if you have people (or cats) who are dependent on you or if you have a mortgage or rent to pay.
The benefit is that it provides protection if you can no longer secure your livelihood because of an incapacity to work. You’ll receive a monthly pension until you can start working again or you reach legal retirement age. 20% of Germans place it in the top three most important insurance policies to have, and the German Association of Insured Persons recommends it for every working person. If you’re feeling particularly cautious, you could also think about taking out Risiko-Lebensversicherung (life insurance) and Unfallversicherung (accident insurance).
Dog liability insurance (Hundehaftpflicht)
If you’ve gone off the idea of owning a cat (sorry), but still like the thought of having a four-legged friend in your life, a dog is probably a more practical choice than a horse. Just bear in mind that in most German states, Hundehaftpflicht is mandatory. This will cover you if your Hund decides to go rogue and injure someone else, or has an appetite for destruction rather than doggy treats.
Another consideration that might give you paws (sorry again) for thought is that, while cats are tax-free, many communities charge a tax for dogs (Hundesteuer), which can set you back anywhere from €10 to €170 a year, depending on where you live.
Still cheaper than a horse though…