Insurances you need to know about: A guide for Expats living in Germany
There are many types of insurances that you need to consider when moving to Germany, be it health, household, travel, or life - and while all of these are useful, not all of them are compulsory. After speaking to our own team of expats, we realized that navigating the many insurance types and finding the right solution for individual situations can be one of the most confusing, daunting, and overwhelming tasks to tackle when relocating.
In today’s article we’ll introduce the types of insurance every newcomer to Germany should know about and where you can find the right insurance companies to meet your needs.
Top 5 Insurances to know about
#1 Health Insurance (REQUIRED)
If you live or work in Germany then Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung) is a legal requirement. There are three types of Health Insurance available*:
GKV: This is the government-regulated public Health Insurance scheme, which you will automatically be covered by if you earn between 4,950 € and 64,350 € per year (gross). Employers cover half of the Health Insurance costs in this case and will often help you choose a suitable insurance company to become members of. Our team is largely associated with TK and AOK, but there are of course other companies available - Feather, for example, helps you to search and compare different Health Insurance companies with the added bonus that the site is in English.
PKV: If your gross income is higher than the threshold amount of 64, 350 €, or you are self-employed, then you can opt for full private Health Insurance.
GKV + PKV: In some cases you may wish to supplement the public Health Insurance with private.
*Information relayed here is relative to September 2021
#2 Travel Insurance (OPTIONAL)
Some German Health Insurance companies cover your medical and hospital treatments in almost all European countries, and some may even have special agreements with non-European countries to ensure you can access necessary care there, too. While this is the case for many insurance companies, it is not the case for all, and the criteria may differ between each provider, so it is important to check the finer details carefully before travelling abroad.
If your chosen German Health Insurance Company does not cover you for any illness, necessary medicines, or dental treatments incurred abroad, then it is recommended that you enroll in Travel Insurance schemes (Auslandkrankenversicherung). Travel Insurance also makes it easier to travel without worrying about lost luggage, accommodation mishaps, or flight cancellations. You can usually find Travel Insurance as an additional benefit with certain credit cards but can also apply for it separately.
#3 Personal Liability Insurance (OPTIONAL)
While not a legal requirement, we would argue that Personal Liability Insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung) is a must-have for people living in Germany, as it protects the holder against claims from others.
In the most severe terms, this can refer to an accident you may have caused that left another person injured – for example, you knock someone off their bike, or you cause a crash by not crossing the road at a zebra crossing. If the victim chooses to sue and wins then you would be vulnerable to paying reparations. This is where Personal Liability Insurance could protect you.
In addition, Personal Liability Insurance can reimburse you for legal fees, as well as costs incurred for damages you may have caused to somebody else’s property – for example, you broke their fridge door, or smashed a window accidentally, or had a leak that spread into their apartment. If you are leaving your rented apartment, the landlord may charge apartment damages from your deposit – Personal Liability Insurance should cover this as well.
#4 Household Insurance (OPTIONAL)
Household Insurance (Hausratversicherung) covers the contents and structure of your home. While it is not a legal requirement, the consequences of not getting this insurance type can be costly if, for example, you were burgled or experienced damage to your belongings following a fire, storm, or flood.
Coverage can also apply to damage or loss incurred outside of the premises – for example, bike theft or street robbery - but is often limited up to approximately 10-15% of the total insured sum.
#5 Life Insurance (OPTIONAL)
Life Insurance (Risikolebensversicherung) covers those left behind in the event of your death. While this might not be the top insurance type on your list when first arriving in Germany, it is an important one to consider should you have dependents, a mortgage, or any other long-term loan with the bank.
The money is usually paid out in a lump sum and costs are calculated based on your age, medical status, history, the insurance term and the insurance sum itself.
Tools for comparing insurance companies
There are many different types of insurance both required and advised for people living and working in Germany. Above we outlined our top 5 to take note of, but there are plenty more that you might find useful, depending on your unique requirements – accident insurance, for example might be beneficial for those who do a lot of sport, vehicle insurance is a must for those who drive, and legal insurance could be advantageous for anyone encountering problems with a landlord. The best thing to do is to search around to find the right policies. Here’s our recommended toolkit to help you find the right insurances to suit your unique needs:
Check 24: Provides an overview of prices and services from thousands of providers so that you can easily and reliably compare the market for insurances, flights, rental cars, electricity and more. It’s also completely free to use.
Financescout 24: A comparison site that allows you to independently find the best deal on a range of different insurance types.
Stiftung Warentest: A site that is constantly comparing products and prices with a wealth of useful articles.