Germany features a high level of safety awareness; and many consumers want to be well protected against all kinds of eventualities of their everyday life by taking out an insurance policy. On the average, a German citizen pays about 2,400 €/year for six insurance policies; this amount has doubled in the course of the past 20 years. 50% of the insurance contributions are paid for private old-age provisions. The figures are per-capita expenditure, i.e. a three-person family pays 600 €/ month for insurances in the average. In the following we will clarify for which insurances/ provisions the money is spent and which insurance policies are common in Germany.
Which insurances are available in Germany?
In general, insurances can be sub-divided into two large types: the personal insurances on the hand and the property insurances on the other hand. While property insurances offer protection from destruction, damage or loss of the insured objects, personal insurances financially protect the insured person from particular risks of life.
All employees subject to social insurance contributions pay into the statutory health insurance and the statutory pension insurance, which rank among the largest personal insurances in Germany. In addition, a lot of further insurance policies can be taken out voluntarily to cover individual risks.
Private Health Insurance (Private Krankenversicherung)
A private health insurance is suitable for those persons who are not subject to statutory compulsory insurance such as e.g. Self-employed persons, freelancers, civil servants, employees with a very high income (income exceeding 57,600 €; data referring to the year 2017) and students. Students can only take out a private health insurance, if they are exempted from the statutory health insurance or if they are at least 30 years old.
Persons subject to the statutory health insurance are also allowed to take out a private health insurance. In this case it is a supplementary insurance, which covers individually selected risks that are not or only partly covered by the statutory health insurance such as the costs for dental prostheses or for alternative medical treatments (homeopathy).
Travel Health Insurance (Reisekrankenversicherung)
Depending on your destination the usual health insurance may not be applicable during your holiday. Comparing Europe with Germany, the statutory health insurance or private health insurance pays for the illness costs to a similar extent. Even if a medical treatment abroad is more expensive than in Germany, the insurance will bear the costs up to a stipulated maximum amount (fixed allowance). The costs exceeding this maximum amount have to be paid by the patient.
Short-term insurance policies can be taken out for one particular holiday trip, whereas long-term contracts cover all travels during a period of 12 or more months. The travel health insurance does not only pay for the illness costs, but additionally bears the costs of the medically required return transport to Germany.
Life Assurance (Lebensversicherung)
A life assurance covers the risks of death or disability; it can also be used as an old-age provision. Various contract options are offered depending on the insured person’s risk profile. A fixed insurance sum is stipulated in a security-oriented insurance policy which is paid out either after a specified number of years (in case of survival) or in case of death. Insurance policies covering risks often include equities, which influence the amount to be paid out on the due date.
Accident Insurance (Unfallversicherung)
The accident insurance is applicable, if the insured person’s health is severely impaired either by permanent disability or a long recovery process as a consequence of an accident. Two different accident insurances are to be distinguished: the statutory accident insurance which covers accidents on the way to work and the private accident insurance which is applicable for accidents in the private area (leisure, sports and household accidents). According to statistics, 70 % of the accidents occur in leisure time. Every person should estimate his/her individual risk to find out whether it is necessary for him/her to take out such an accident insurance.
Occupational Disability Insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung)
If occupational disability is determined, the occupational disability insurance pays the stipulated insurance sum, the so-called disability pension. Every month the insured person receives a fixed amount that allows him/her to make a living. Many insurance policies depend on the degree of occupational disability: the higher this degree, the higher the amount paid out to the insured person.
Travel Cancellation Insurance (Reiserücktrittskostenversicherung)
The travel cancellation insurance covers the risk of having to withdraw from a travel for various reasons, including unexpected professional changes, illness, pregnancy or death of a family member. If these risks are explicitly listed in the insurance policy, they are covered by the insurance. The financial burden arising from the cancelled travel can be reduced by such travel cancellation insurance. The travel agencies often reimburse a part of the already paid travel costs. Except the insured person’s deductible, the travel cancellation insurance covers the remaining travel costs including the cancellation fee.
More information can be found on Reiseruecktrittsversicherung-Tipps (German language)
Legal Protection Insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)
The private legal protection insurance is applicable in case of legal disputes in the private area, including claims for damages, fine proceedings, criminal matters or social lawsuits. This insurance covers all judicial instances, including the costs of experts, witnesses, surveyors, lawyer and court under the precondition that the legal dispute has a reasonable chance of success. The legal protection insurance covers neither willfully caused lawsuits nor expenses that are too high compared with the envisaged success. Depending on the policy, the legal protection insurance may additionally cover professional lawsuits and travel law disputes. Experts recommend adapting the scope of insurance cover to the individual requirements.
Property insurances cover the contractually defined objects, particularly the risk of their loss, damage and destruction. The third-party liability insurance, the insurance on household contents, the fire insurance, the residential building insurance and the automobile liability insurance are the most important property insurances.
Third-Party Liability Insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)
The private third-party liability insurance covers damages which are due to careless action, thoughtless behavior or missing performance of duties. It is applicable to all damages for which the insured person is liable to pay or for which he/she has to assume financial responsibility. According to the German Civil Code the liability for damages is defined as liability with your total assets. As neither the maximum reimbursement amount nor the duration of payment is limited, the worst case may feature lifelong payments and a life in poverty.
Example: In case of an accident caused by you, the other party involved in the accident is seriously injured and wheelchair-bound from now on. All related costs have to be borne by you, i.e. The person who is responsible for the accident. Over the years, these costs may amount to hundreds of thousands of Euros. In such an event the third-party liability insurance covers these costs.
Attention: It is important to know that only damages caused to third parties (not to your spouse e.g.) are insured. Moreover, the third-party liability includes passive legal protection, i.e. It fends off unjustified claims in a legal dispute and bears the related costs.
Insurance on Household Contents (Hausratversicherung)
The insurance on household contents protects the belongings from material damages and the related costs. Most objects in a house or flat are insured against numerous causes of damage, including burglary, water damage or destruction. The insurance policy covers not only the stolen objects, but additionally the damages caused by the burglars. Moreover, all damages caused by fire, mains water, storm or hail are reimbursed by the insurance on household contents.
Fire Insurance (Feuerversicherung)
A fire breaking out in a building can destroy everything within seconds. Consequently, not only the building itself, including fixed installations, but additionally the household lie in ashes. As the amount of such damages may easily threaten the existence of both homeowners and tenants, they are recommended to protect themselves against the financial burdens which may accrue from a fire. The fire insurance bears all these financial burdens, including the costs for non-residence, the fire service costs or the damages caused by the firefighting water.
Residential Building Insurance (Wohngebäudeversicherung)
The residential building insurance is identical with a fire insurance, but additionally covers damages caused by mains water, storm, hail and natural hazards. In other words: it pays all costs arising from the damage including clean-up, the damage at the building or accommodation away from home.
Automobile Liability Insurance (Kfz-Versicherung)
Every driver of a motor vehicle is legally bound to take out an automobile liability insurance. This insurance policy covers personal and property damages which arise from an accident caused by the motorist. The amount paid by the automobile liability insurance is stipulated in the policy item “agreed sum insured”.
Insurance protection can be arranged individually
In addition to the insurances described above, numerous particular individual insurances are offered in Germany. This wide range of policies which is rather confusing for non-professionals bears the risk of over-insurance. Compiling your insurance portfolio, you should consider very carefully which insurance policies are economically reasonable and affordable for you. The risks of life change with advancing age, e.g. Marriage and children, loss of job, taking up self-employment or the beginning of retirement can entirely change your life situation. A regular insurance check is therefore highly recommendable to ensure your financially and individually suitable insurance protection at all stages of life.
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