House insurance for Germany is not often high on the list of priorities. It’s a boring topic that is often left for later. Still, it can save your wallet’s butt like it did once for me.
It was late in the evening, after many sleepless nights working on my thesis. I had put another load in the washing machine and thought about it no more, deep into my thoughts. 4h later, the neighbors rang the door with a frown on their faces; the pipe had broke, the water flooded the bathroom floor, and leaked downstairs. I had in front me, thousands of euros worth of repairs on my hands.
“So is German house insurance essential?” you might ask
So whether house insurance is essential or not, I’ll let you decide.
How is German house insurance defined?
First of all, in German it’s called Hausratversicherung, and no, it’s not insurance for your house pet rat! 😉
Wherever you come from, you’ve probably already heard about this kind of insurance. It covers you in case of theft of any of your belongings, or damage to the property you’re living in. It might also be referred to as home contents insurance. If it’s the same everywhere, there are varying degrees of cover which you can pick from. The great thing is, a basic home contents insurance in Germany is pretty affordable and good value for money.
Let’s say you light a candle in your bedroom for some mood lighting, but end up falling asleep without blowing it out. Imagine what could happen! If a fire broke out, the entirety of your home could be destroyed. You’d have to fork out a whopping €50.000 for damages to a 75 sqm flat. With home insurance, you’d only be spending €50.
So it’s a no-brainer really, even for those swimming in money.
Which items are covered under house insurance in Germany?
In theory, any object you have in your apartment counts as a household good and is covered by house insurance in Germany. Simply said, if you tipped your flat upside down, anything that falls would be eligible for compensation.
That includes furniture, carpets, electrical appliances, clothes, but also valuables and much more. So if you live in a shared flat (WG) or on the ground floor where things can get stolen, or if you’re simply clumsy, you should probably consider it.
Home truths: If you’ve got particularly expensive valuables, like jewellery or pieces of art, you’ll probably have to pay a premium. By default, most house insurances back valuables by around 20-25 percent of the agreed sum.
Valuable info: Here’s a little secret. House insurance in Germany doesn’t just cover damage within your flat, it can also accompany you beyond your four walls. For example, many of them cover you in case of theft from a hotel room you’re staying in, on holiday let’s say.
Hot tip: On the off chance that you give housewarming a whole new meaning, be well-prepared. As you sign up for house insurance, create an inventory with all your belongings, complete with photos and receipts. If you only do it once all your stuff has disappeared, it’ll just be a headache.
What hazards does house insurance in Germany cover?
Whether you like it or not, bad stuff can happen – c’est la vie. You can either hope and pray for it not to happen, or you can be prepared. Now, under what circumstances does German home contents insurance cover your possessions? Here are some examples.
- Fire: a spark goes flying out of the fireplace and sets the flat on fire
- Water damage: there’s a hole in the washing machine cable and water leaks
- Storm and hail: a storm forces the windows open and destroys your furniture
- Burglary and vandalism: a bunch of thieves break into your home, steal your stuff and spray graffiti all over your walls
The good thing is, whether it was destroyed, damaged or stolen, the insurance replaces the original value of an item, rather than the present value. A huge bonus compared with liability insurance for example, where only the present value is replaced.
Imagine the whole interior of your home being destroyed. Considering the fact that electrical appliances such as TVs and computers lose their value so rapidly, their present value just wouldn’t be enough to fund another round of your beloved belongings.
How are your household contents insured?
German house insurance doesn’t require you to insure individual goods based on a list or anything like that. Your household contents are calculated on the basis of a total sum insured, which applies to your entire household. The following formula is generally used to estimate the value of your home:
Your flat in square metres x 650 EUR. (e.g)
We mentioned liability insurance before – what’s the difference?
We get it, you’re still not sure what the deal is with house insurance in Germany. Just as you thought you were getting to grips them all, a whole ‘nother bucket load is thrown at you. And all of it seems to be “same same but different”.
Let’s help each other out.
Haftpflichtversicherung. Ring a bell? This is what Germans call liability insurance. It covers you if you’ve inflicted damage on another person or their belongings. This applies to personal injury, property damage and financial losses. Whereas house insurance provides protection against damage or loss of your own household goods, and is more of a property insurance. There is a dedicated post for this here.
And what about homeowner’s insurance?
Hello confusion, my old friend! Jokes aside, we’re almost there in terms of defining which insurance is good for what. But get ready for another long German term.
Wohngebäudeversicherung is what they call it. Homeowners’ and house insurance cover similar dangers, such as fire, storm and tap water damage, but insure different items. Homeowner’s insurance insures a building as well as all permanently installed parts, such as walls, pipes or doors. Outbuildings, such as garages or garden sheds, are also included. House insurance, in Germany at least, merely secures movable property such as furnishings and utensils. If you are interested in that, you can easily compare policies on platforms like Tarifcheck.
Anyway, back to the riveting topic of German home insurance.
What other types of costs are covered in German house insurance?
Cleanup (Aufräumungskosten): costs for cleaning up insured items as well as removal and disposal
Movement and protection (Bewegungs- und Schutzkosten): costs incurred as a result of moving other items for the recovery and restoration of insured property
Transport and storage (Transport- und Lagerkosten): costs for transport and storage of the insured property, if the apartment is no longer usable and you can’t store anything there anymore
Change of lock (Schlossänderungskosten): costs for changes to the lock if the keys for the front door or safes are lost whilst being insured
Guarding (Bewachungskosten): costs of guarding the insured flat in case it becomes uninhabitable and/or other security measures don’t provide adequate protection
Building damage repair (Reparaturkosten für Gebäudeschäden): costs ensued from property damages caused by robbery or burglary, or the attempt of such an act within the home
Provisional measures (Kosten für provisorische Maßnahmen): expenses for provisional measures needed to protect the insured property
What does house insurance in Germany not cover?
It may be hard to believe after that extensive list, but some things aren’t covered by German house insurance. You can forget about things like cars, vessels and aircrafts (but what about my helicopter?), and expensive furs and jewellery that amount to more than the insured limits. Building components are also not included – but if you’ve read the rest of this article, you’ll know that those are part of the homeowner’s insurance.
Here are a few other things that aren’t covered by house insurance. Germany has many other types of insurances for those, as you’ve probably gathered by now.
Bicycles: living in a place that suffers from bike thefts, it’s important to be mindful that bikes aren’t always included in German house insurance. If they are, it’s usually only under certain conditions and up to certain compensation levels.
Negligence: house insurance also doesn’t pay the full amount for gross negligence, as in, if you leave your flat without closing a window and a theft occurs. Same goes for a cleaner stealing something from your flat. It’s not considered an insured burglary theft – just regular theft.
Rain or snow: damage through rain or snow are also risks that aren’t covered by a home contents insurance in Germany.
Glass damage: the same applies to glass damage, for example, on your TV, smartphone or ceramic hob. Like the above, it’s an extra that needs to be added on.
Ok, so German home contents insurance sounds pretty useful. How do i pick a good policy?
You may not be able to find an alternative to Deutsche Bahn trains in Germany (yet), but when it comes to insurance, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
In true German fashion, the process can be pretty overwhelming, especially since it’s all in German. So if you’re looking for the best house insurance Germany has to offer, then you might consider new players like Lemonade, GetSafe, or Feather Insurance. They are one of those helpful apps that’s got clear pricing and good coverage, and makes you hate insurance that little bit less. They both service you completely in English, from signup, contracts, to insurance claims.
If you’re brave enough to shop for insurance by yourself, then comparison sites like TarifCheck will do the trick. Before you sign any contract though, make sure you get clued up on what the following common terms mean. Because even with home insurance, Germans like to be genau.
Useful insurance jargon when picking your policy
Begrenzt / unbegrenzt (limited / unlimited): a limited or unlimited policy coverage, usually lurking in the small print of a contract
Best-Leistungs-Garantie (best service guarantee): your insurance company’s word that they’ll treat you at least as well as any other German insurance would (yes, this can be hard to believe when you’ve encountered Berliners a few times).
Deckungssumme (Limit of indemnity): in the event of a claim, the maximum amount covered by that particular home insurance.
Groben Fahrlässigkeit (Gross negligence): the “lack of slight diligence or care” or “a conscious, voluntary act or omission in reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party”
Selbstbeteiligung (deductible/excess): the amount that you would have to pay out of your pocket if an insured incident were to happen. It could be either a fixed amount, or a percentage
Versicherer (Insurance provider): the company that provides you with your insurance.
Versicherungsnehmer (Policyholder): the individual who takes a policy out with an insurance company, i.e. you or a family member
Versicherungsprämie / Versicherungsbeitrag (Insurance premium or insurance contribution): the one-time payment or regular amount that comes out of your account and into your insurance company’s
All’s well that ends well.
If you hadn’t already guessed, I feel like house insurance in Germany is pretty useful, even if you just moved into your flat. Simply because, you just never know until it’s too late. Even if you pick the most reasonably-priced home contents insurance Germany has on the market, it’s still beneficial. You get so much out of it, and investing in it definitely won’t burn a hole in your pocket…
I hope this little overview was useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.