Life is full of unexpected events. Even if you do your best to stay focused at the moment you’re living you never know what it can happen the next second. You’re driving peacefully on a morning to work and in the blink of an eye, you accidentally hit a person while he intends to cross the road leaving him badly injured. Or you might get your smartphone out to see pictures of yesterday’s party you were in and the device slips off your hands breaking into pieces.
Yes, we cannot have control over these accidents and even worse, we cannot undo our actions. But you can get liability insurance and bring peace to your mind, knowing that somebody else got your back to deal with financial concerns, sometimes high above your capacities. Liability insurance can spare you from financial responsibilities and a large amount of stress.
The legal and insurance system in Germany is often different from what the majority of new expats have experienced in their home country. Due to this a large proportion of them have common misunderstandings about it and you probably are one of them.
By the end of this article, you’ll get to understand everything you need about liability insurance in Germany and your obligations against German laws.
How Does Liability Insurance Work in Germany?
In Germany, there are different types of insurance. Liability insurance is one of the most important alongside health insurance.
Liability insurance is not mandatory in Germany, except for vehicles. But if you want to free yourself from paying large amounts of money due to accidental damages, you must seriously consider purchasing liability insurance in Germany. In fact, this is what the majority of people living in Germany do, so you might do the same as well.
Insurance policies in Germany are distinguished for their flexibility. That said, there are several different types of liability insurance policies you can purchase. It all depends on what you’re willing to insure and what extensive coverage you want to get.
Here are some types of liability insurances in Germany:
- Third-Party Liability Insurance (Haftplichtversicherung)
- Vehicle Liability Insurance (Autoversicherung)
- Pet Owner Liability Insurance (Tierhalterhaftplichtversicherung)
Third-party Private Liability Insurance in Germany (Haftpflichtversicherung)
As the name suggests, the third-party private liability insurance is a type of insurance in Germany, which covers you and your family members in case any of you are liable of causing damage, unintentional or not, to others or to yourself.
For example, you might get hurt while practicing your favorite sport and your insurance provider will cover all medical costs. Or you might try to cross the road (otherwise not allowed to) and get injured in the process so your insurance provider will take care of the cost of your medical treatment.
Current legal basis in Germany does not specify at what upper limit your liability insurance package will cover in case you get hurt during an unwanted situation. The coverage you’re willing to get will largely determine the cost of your third-party private liability insurance. Having in mind that you can never know what it can happen and in order to be prepared for everything, it is highly recommended that you give priority to taking the best deal instead of aiming for the cheapest one.
Third-party private liability insurance is not mandatory by law in Germany. But there are some circumstances at which you might be obligated to purchase it. For example, if you decide to rent a property it is likely that your renting contract will require you to have this type of insurance so any possible damage is covered by your insurance provider.
Vehicle Liability Insurance (Autoversicherung)
Every driver in Germany is required by law to purchase liability insurance for his vehicle. This type of insurance will provide coverage in case you’re involved in a car accident causing damages to other persons, cars or objects and will also cover the cost of repairing your vehicle if the accident had happened without your fault.
Depending on what you’re willing your insurance to cover, there are three types of vehicle liability insurance in Germany
Third party liability (haftpflicht) – this insurance is mandatory by law and will cover the damage you might have caused to a person and a vehicle during an accident at which you were proved to be guilty.
Partial Coverage (teilkasko)– as the name suggests this type of insurance includes personal liability insurance and also provides partial coverage for your vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage (Vollkasko) – this insurance is designed to cover everything, including your personal liability and the damage caused to your vehicle even if the accident had happened because of your fault.
You must know that vehicle insurance in Germany is not that cheap. Comprehensive coverage (Vollkasko) is not mandatory by law, but there are some companies which sell cars that will require you to purchase them.
However, there are some ways you can significantly lower the cost of your vehicle liability insurance. Basically, the premium you have to pay for your vehicle insurance depends on several factors. The price for those who drive big vehicle is larger and the same applies to those who have little or no experience in driving.
Your driving record will also give you certain credits for cheaper insurance. If you have never been denounced guilty in a car accident, this can entitle you for a much cheaper purchase of vehicle liability insurance.
Pet Owner Liability Insurance (Tierhalterhaftplichtversicherung)
No matter how cautious we tend to be, sometimes animals can escape our control and cause significant damage to others. For instance, imagine you own a dog and once you enter a shopping center it runs and breaks an expensive set of wine glasses.
According to existing laws in Germany, everyone who owns a pet is fully responsible for whatever problem they cause. If you own a pet and you want to save yourself from dealing with uncomfortable situations like the one above, you can get liability insurance for your animal.
How much does it cost to get liability insurance in Germany?
The cost of purchasing liability insurance in Germany depends on several elements. The type of liability insurance and the extent of coverage you want will largely determine the cost of getting it. At the same time, the cost of liability insurance will change according to which insurance provider you choose.
Third-party liability insurance is the least expensive, despite that it is the second most important in Germany after health insurance. Overall, the regular monthly price for this type of insurance varies between €3 to €6 on average. That said, your annual premium for third-party liability insurance in Germany will hardly reach €100.
On the other end, liability insurance for your vehicle in Germany is quite expensive. If you aim to get full coverage (Vollkasko) for your car, your annual premium will start from €500 and can be as high as €900.
Frequently Asked Questions
To what degree will my third-party liability insurance cover me in case I accidentally cause damage to others?
The actual law in Germany does not specify an upper level of damage to which your liability insurance will cover the other person to which you have accidentally caused damage. Deciding to get a cheap insurance package might easily turn into a bad idea, so our recommendation is for you to pick a liability insurance offer which would cover damages to a high cost as possible.
Does my third-party liability insurance cover my pet also?
It depends. Your third-party liability insurance does cover small animals like cats, but dogs and other big animals must be insured separately.
Can I switch insurance provider whenever I want?
Unfortunately, no. Even a better option comes along you will still have to wait until the term to which you agreed with your current provider is over. That’s why most insurance agents will do their best to convince to lock you down in a long-term insurance package.
Do insurance companies provide customer support in English?
In the majority of insurance companies in Germany, customer services are only available in the German language. However, there may be some of them which do offer customer support in English.