One way or another, you have started your long quest to gather all documents needed to apply for your visa to Germany. Good luck with that! 🙂
In this long list, there is this pesky health insurance confirmation. German authorities are asking you to prove you can cover health risks during your stay in Germany. So far so good, it makes sense. But then you’ve made research: you are maybe thinking incoming insurance for Germany is the best option for your case. But it’s hard to be sure; this topic is tricky in this country.
But it’s hard to be sure; this topic is tricky in this country.
Come; let’s look at it together, understand what it is and find out if it’s relevant at all for you. Put a nice playlist on: it’s a long read. 🙂
Who is usually considering it
The typical user for an incoming insurance for Germany is one of those non EU citizen profiles:
- People who don’t yet have full-time employment in Germany.
- Foreign students coming to study at a German university.
- People coming to Germany for an internship, language course, as an au-pair or visiting scientist.
- People coming to Germany on a freelance visa or a job seeker visa.
These profiles all need a proof of health insurance to apply for a visa and come to land of Goethe for a time period shorter than 5 years, hence the name “incoming insurance for Germany”.
What incoming insurance for Germany really is:
Incoming insurance is not really a good name for it and it is sometimes called something else depending on who you talk to. Sometimes it’s called, expat insurance or travel insurance too. I personally think it’s best to call temporary health insurance because that’s really what it is.
It’s a private insurance that meets the basic requirements for residence titles defined in the German residence act (section 2 (3)) as you need to prove that you will be able sustain yourself during your time in the country. It should overall meet the same standards as a normal local policy, specifically
- It should not cap the reimbursements when the insuree is sick
- It should not contain special contract terms regarding expiration or indemnity related to
- age of insuree
- activities or occupation
- change in residency title
- It should not ask unreasonable payment excess to the insuree
- It should not exclude the insuree from standard benefits (as per local definition)
To be clear, it’s not exactly a health insurance as typically defined in a welfare state type of situation. So depending where you come from, you might need to adjust expectations. Think of it more as a money-back guarantee when you have medical expenses in Germany. For example, if you need medication like antibiotics, you would first pay for it out of the pocket, and then send the bills to your insurance company, asking for a refund.
It then usually take 2 to 3 weeks to see the money again on your bank account. As you can see, the experience is not all the same than just showing your national health insurance ID at the doctor and popping to the pharmacy, the rest being taken care of on it own.
You will need to read the small prints in your contract but most often than not, you can expect the following things to be covered:
- Hospital treatment and emergency services
- Medical treatment at the doctor and common medication
- Medical equipment such as walking aids or wheelchairs
- Transportation to the nearest hospital
- Burial or transfer expenses
In plenty of cases, there is a cap on refunds for things like dental treatment, prostheses,
auxiliary remedies or transportation back home. Make sure you ask how those limits are applied for your contracts, in which conditions, etc.
It also sometimes doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Again; read the fine prints.
What if i have a major accident?
Life is tough and stuff happens. It’s not a big deal to cure an ear infection, but what if you need a major spine surgery? Emergencies like this are covered too. Such procedures are naturally a lot more costly and this is where we can see the limits of the typical policy for an incoming insurance for Germany.
Why should i see this a temporary insurance only? It’s a lot cheaper than the local policies!
It is something i often hear when discussing this topic with newcomers or on various Facebook groups for expats. It is true that it looks like a bad deal when first looking at it. Both private incoming insurance for Germany and local health insurance fulfill requirements for the purpose of your stay in Germany. Why paying up hundreds of euros more? That’s a lot of nice week-end trips!
As mentioned earlier, although it fills the same purpose, there is a big difference in coverage. A local policy will have no caps and you won’t even need to pay anything from your own pocket. If you run into serious health trouble that can certainly make the difference.
Most importantly: you won’t be able to renew your visa or apply for permanent residency with a policy like this. Visa renewals require a local health insurance.
Also, a public local health insurance company will cover you and your spouse and children under one policy, for the same price. An incoming insurance for Germany doesn’t do that by default.
So when does it make sense to sign-up for an incoming insurance for Germany?
Although it has some drawbacks, signing for incoming insurance for Germany can be the right thing do for plenty of people. It may make sense in those cases:
Language students wanting to enroll at a German university later
First come for a language course and get the required German level to apply at university. You can get a visa with an incoming insurance but as soon as you enroll at a German university, you will be insured by the statutory health insurance (costing about 80€ per month), and get better coverage. You can also decide to stay with the incoming insurance within 3 months after your enrollment, but you are then stuck with it until the end of your degree.
Students aged over 30 or starting their 15th semester of study
Such profiles are not covered by the student version of the German statutory insurance and must pay full price (around 190€/month minimum). That’s a lot to cough-up but keep in mind what was discussed above, it may makes sense too if you have a family for example. If you are single, then to stay on incoming insurance for Germany may make sense too.
Job seeker visa applicants
You have no income in Germany yet and you aim to find a job here when applying for a job seeker visa. When you do find a job, this means that it will also pay for your health insurance, at which point you can switch to the public statutory health insurance scheme. During your job search, you can be covered under the incoming insurance policy.
Au pair, interns and visiting scientists
Those profiles will be in Germany for a very limited stay so there would be no reason to invest in a more expensive insurance scheme than an incoming insurance for Germany.
The bonus for everybody mentioned above: the insurance confirmation comes fast to have your document presented to the German authorities.
What providers are there?
If you have made your research, you might have heard of established brands like Mawista or BProtected. Those are valid options but can be sometimes lacking in some areas, and it’s guaranteed the consulate will accept it.
I can strongly recommend Feather Insurance, who have closely looked at the experience of foreign nationals in Germany during their visa applications to come up with a fair, transparent and fitting policy. It has been specially designed to guarantee a successful visa application and help you transition your way into the German system, if you get that far. On top of it all, Feather Insurance has the following benefits that no other provider has:
- Confirmation same working day as sign-up.
- Cancellation any time – you’re not locked in like with other providers
- Works for first time visa guaranteed (we attach an extra letter for the visa office), often up to 3 year visas!
- Simple switching to public German based coverage possible, once you are established.
- Upgrade to full private any time also possible
Reviews are also very good, so at least check it out. and naturally 100% serviced in English.
I hope this post made sense out of a confusing and sometimes obscure topic. If something is not answered here, feel free to ask questions in the comments.