Liability insurance in Germany, the other essential coverage.

3569 euros.

That’s how much i could have saved if i had signed up for German liability insurance, on a fateful night of May.  That’s as simple as that. Getting that vital coverage could have avoided me a big hole in my budget and a whole lot of stress. 

And guess what: sh*t happens. Some may even argue that life is only a series of accidents. While nothing can protect you from questionable career choices, you should prepare for random adverse events in your everyday life.

Basically it looks like this:

Health insurance makes sure your body doesn’t suffer the consequences of those events.
Liability insurance makes sure you don’t pay the price for the rest.

Both are very essential and you will learn here what to pay attention to when picking a liability insurance Germany.

liability insurance Germany

(You will also learn what happened to me on that night at the end of the post *suspense music starts*)

Back to basics: how is German liability insurance defined?

Haftpflichtversicherung. That’s the (long) word you are looking for.

The term refers to the personal liability insurance Germany recommends for everyone, meaning that in situations where the insured person caused Personenschäden (person damage), Sachschäden (object damage) or Vermögensschäden (wealth damage), the insurance pays the costs incurred. Accidents happen, but without personal liability insurance you could risk personal bankruptcy after an accident.

People should know: an impressive 85% of Germany’s residents have this type of insurance!

Most German liability insurance contracts cover the person signing the contract (Versicherungsnehmer) as well as family and household members. This means that if your children or spouse accidentally damages something while visiting friends or thinks it’s funny to summon the fire department when there’s no emergency, the costs are covered. Be sure to to check the legal restrictions for coverage of children through!

Basic German liability insurance costs between €50 and €100 a year and the premium calculation (Beitragsberechnung) is based on the extent of coverage (Deckungssumme), whether you’re single/married and have children (Zielgruppe), the amount of your deductible (Selbstbehalt), and services you want included (Leistungseinschlüsse).

What types of situations are covered by personal liability insurance Germany?

Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere and yes, even to you. For example, during your morning run you could bump into someone who falls and breaks their wrist (damage to persons). Or you accidentally drop your friend’s laptop and they can’t do their freelance work for several days (damage to objects and wealth). Travelling to the airport your suitcase could roll in front of a moving tram, causing an accident that injures several people, damages the tram and keeps dozens of people from getting to work appointments (damage to persons, objects, and wealth).

The last is a case where good coverage is really important, because accidents involving public transportation can cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions! That’s why it’s expected that everyone gets German liability insurance to cover these types of situations.

Finanztip recommends that you select an insurance with at least €50 million in total coverage and €10 million per injured person. Your friend might think they’re worth more, but that’s probably enough to cover any damages to their person, if not their ego.

As with all insurance, some important aspects require you to sign up for additional coverage packages (Zusatzpakete):

  • Schlüsselverlust (loss of work or private keys) – This policy covers the cost of replacing the building’s locks, which can get expensive for high-security facilities or large apartment complexes.
  • Forderungsausfalldeckung (default on payment coverage) – If someone causes damages to you, but isn’t insured and can’t pay, then your insurance covers the costs instead.
  • Tierhalter-Haftpflichtversicherung (pet liability insurance) – This is often required by dog training schools or landlords to cover damages by your pet.
  • Passiver Rechtsschutzversicherung (passive legal insurance) – If someone unjustly claims you caused damages and tries to collect, this covers the legal costs for your defense.
  • Auslandsaufenthalt (coverage abroad) – This policy often differentiates between EU and worldwide travel.
  • Haus- und Grundbesitzerhaftpflichtversicherung (house and property owner liability insurance) – Very important if you own your apartment!
  • Coverage for your house construction project, like Bauherrenhaftpflicht and Bauleistungsversicherung, which cover damages to and on your construction site.
Protect yourself from terrible breakdance battle accidents 😉 (Photo by Fred Mouniguet on Unsplash)

What is not usually covered by German personal liability insurance?

When you have liability insurance Germany becomes a much safer place, with protection against debilitating costs from an accident. But it’s also important to know which situations are NOT usually covered:

  • Damages by psychologically unsound persons (deliktunfähige Personen) and young children, because the law does not consider them liable
  • Liability when driving or in motion, which is instead covered by your car insurance (Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung)
  • Damages to your home, which are covered by a home-owner’s insurance (Hausratsversicherung)
  • Situations where family members accidentally injure each other or themselves, which is instead covered by an accident insurance (Unfallversicherung)
  • Damages related to your job, workplace, volunteer work, or company
  • Most extreme sports or risky hobbies
  • Fines and penalties

How do I sign up for one?

As you can imagine, there are thousands of options out there, which can be pretty overwhelming since everything is in German. If you want a little bit of guidance, transparent pricing and good coverage, all of it 100% in English (also for claims), i would recommend providers like GetSafe or Coya. Sign-up in a few minutes, get a confirmation right away and use an app to manage your contracts. It’s one of those of new players that don’t make you hate insurance ^^.

If you decide to go shopping on your own however, you can also turn to more traditional comparison platforms like TarifCheck for example. Before you sign a contract, make sure you know these other common terms:

Before you sign a contract, make sure you know these other common terms:

  • Echter oder unechter Vermögensschaden: also referred to as „direkt oder indirekt“- damage to wealth can happen through theft (direct) or when someone misses work or loses income due to the damages (indirect)
  • Schmerzengeld: compensation for physical or psychological damages to a person
  • Gefälligkeitshandlungen: compensation for physical or psychological damages to a person
  • Beitragsfrei/beitragspflichtig mitversichert: no extra charge for coverage, or only offered for an extra fee
  • Begrenzt/unbegrenzt: limited or unlimited policy coverage, check this in the small print
  • Allmählichkeitsschäden: long-term damage, such as an injured person needing further treatment after an accident
  • Best-Leistungs-Garantie: a best services guarantee is a promise from your insurance company to treat you at least as well as any other German insurance would

Tip: You can switch your insurance each year for cheaper or better options but pay attention to the deadline for cancellation (usually 3 months before the contract ends).

Tip 2: It’s usually cheaper to pay annually, versus monthly or quarterly. So, do yourself a favor and save some money with a yearly payment!

Hope this intro on the topic helped you towards the best liability insurance Germany has to offer for your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments. And here is what happened to me:

The night was still young as i was rushing to park my bike in front of my friend’s house. There was a house party and excitement in the air. A little accident happened just then and killed the mood right off. In the hurry to lock my bike up, i didn’t take to stabilize it enough and it fell hard onto an old motorbike next to it, which also fell in turn. Damages weren’t too bad but the motorbike was a rare model; spare parts and workforce don’t come cheap. Goodbye 3569 euros. I still consider myself lucky though, it could have been much, much worse considered i had no liability insurance Germany.

Source: Giphy.com

Sources: 1, 2, 3,

57 Comments

  • Reply Jess 01/05/2020 at 22:31

    Great blog!
    I was wondering what kind of insurance you need when you’re a freelancer and working in the health industry? Do you know if I need public liability / indemnity insurance? Is this available here in Germany? I see a lot of personal liability but none pertaining to work and in particular health care.
    For example, I give advice or treat someone and it turns out to cause damage (unintentionally), can I be sued for this?
    Where I come from, we are covered by our governing body.
    thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/05/2020 at 15:27

      Hey Jess. I’m no specialist but you’d probably need a so called “Berufshaftpflichtversicherung”, try to google that with the name of your job/industry. This would typically protect you from medical errors and such.

  • Reply Vishal Sharma 20/02/2020 at 22:57

    Dear Bastien,

    Thanks for the detailed information. I have one question and i.e. about false fire alarm in a building. So as a tenant do I need to pay the landlord in case of false fire alarm if the police and fire brigade people arrives and shuts the alarm off without any damage to the property?

    Best Regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2020 at 18:00

      Hey Vishal. It’s not really possible to answer on so little details, it might be if you were negligeant and made this happen repeatably. I don’t really have an answer here.

  • Reply Ivan 12/02/2020 at 13:46

    Hello Bastien, as I was doing my research found out personal liability insurance does not cover damages from normal wear and tear. If you live in a rented apartment, is there a different insurance you can get to cover such instances if they are not covered by the landlord contract? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/02/2020 at 20:48

      Hey Ivan. I think you will maybe find this interesting.

  • Reply CW 21/11/2019 at 17:33

    Hi, my partner has been made redundant verbally – by July 2020. Nothing signed etc.
    Can we get insurance and then claim for an Employment lawyer or not?
    Sigh

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 12:45

      Hey CW. Sorry, is this about ALG1? there is a post about that this way.

  • Reply Muammar Zayn Qadafy 09/10/2019 at 06:32

    Hi Bastien, thanks a lot for your nice sharing.
    Just yesterday, the fire department knocked our door cause we fried an egg. I tried to explain to them what happened and that we had no idea why the alarm rang while there was no such a dangerous accident.
    Of course they didnt want to listen and kept writing down my name on a piece of paper.
    Iam no waiting for the rechnung, if any. Will my liability insurance pay for this ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/10/2019 at 15:40

      Hey Muammar. Can’t reply on such a specific case on so little details. Sorry.

  • Reply saransh 02/09/2019 at 11:36

    Hi,
    Is the cleaning service covered when you leave the apartment under liability insurance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2019 at 15:33

      Hey Saransh. Usually, that would be covered from the cleaning service company side.

  • Reply JJ 17/08/2019 at 13:31

    Hi, great article! Question: I drilled a hole in the wall in the apartment I’m renting and accidentially hit the electric wire, and broke it. Now part of the apartment is without electricity due to that. What kind of insurance would cover that kind of (clumpsy) accident?
    Cheers!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/08/2019 at 09:54

      Hey JJ. Tough luck. That would probably be Hausratversicherung.

    • Reply Patricija 03/02/2020 at 15:41

      Hey Bastien. Hope you could help Me with an answer. I have my laptop to a next door typical small repair shop run by Turkish in 2018 August. After they looked at it they told me that they cannot fix it but they can put all information from my laptop to a hard disk if I bring one. I agreed to order one and then bring to them so they offered to me that they keep the laptop with them and when I have a hard disk I come back with it. I had a baby soon after so only this year I had time to get a hard disk. But between 2018 August and 2020, I have been going to them for other phone issues etc. They have seen me many times before. Now I when I came to them with hard disk they said that they do not have my laptop anymore. It’s just gone. I’m outraged! There is so much important information on there and if I knew I cannot trust them, I would have never took their advice and keep my laptop with them. The problem is – it is not insured since I never thought I would have such problem. Is there anything can be done? Can I sue them for destroying my property without letting me about it even in advance? Thank you so much for your answer.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/02/2020 at 21:28

        Hey there Patricija. This post is about liability insurance, which would not be relevant for this case. As for the rest, you need to talk to a lawyer probably.

  • Reply Julien 17/07/2019 at 07:15

    Dear Bastien, Great article! Absolutely going to go through all your posts now.

    My situation: I will be living in Germany soon, for 6 months. And as a non-EU Guest Researcher, I am recommended by my University to buy something like a Mawista Student/Science offer (supposed to be good for short term foreign researchers). I can see that this offer includes ‘liability insurance’. It says “For property damage the insured amount is up to EUR 1,000,000 per person and up to EUR 250,000 for damage to rented property.”. My question:
    1. Do you recommend I still take out a seperate liability insurance that also covers things like loss of keys?
    2. In case all I would do is to live in a renter apartment or WG, am I correct in understanding that liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is enough for me?
    3. I am asking because it seems to me that ‘Hausratsversicherung’ is fitted more when I OWN the place I live in, is that correct? Or for protection against me accidentally damaging things of a rented place, I need Hausratsversicherung as well?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/07/2019 at 14:08

      1. Can’t really answer without knowing the details of your Mawista policy. Sorry.
      2. You would need to take on a home contents insurance (Hausrat) to cover for things inside the apartment too probably. It’s for when you are living in the place, regardless of if you own it or if you rent it.

    • Reply NeuBoi 25/07/2019 at 12:25

      I think there is a distinction between “contents” insurance and the type of insurance that covers renters here. Sebastian can chime in, but having had the Mawista policy explained to me, my understanding is that it can only provide protection to objects that aren’t permanent fixtures (such as a toilet or window) in a rental property, unless that property is something like a hotel room or Airbnb that isn’t actually rented by you. In this case, you may need the Hausrat or at least in the case of some of the new options mentioned above like GetSafe, be sure that your individual policy is designed for renters or WG-livers. The Mawista policy does cover accidents described in this article or personal injury caused by you, so it is useful and not very expensive. Although bear in mind that most of the limits available in these other insurances are much higher than what they give for a cheaper annual price. So it may be best to get the bare bones policy and a more comprehensive form of liability.

  • Reply Jane L 12/07/2019 at 12:59

    Hi Bastien, Many thanks for this article. Which insurance would you recommend for personal effects such as a smartphone, mobile laptop and bicycle? Would Hausratversicherung cover these personal effects, even though they are often carried outside of the home?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/07/2019 at 21:59

      Hey Jane. In most cases, Hausrat covers that, but it maybe only covering damages if they happen in your home.

  • Reply Nikolia 11/07/2019 at 14:11

    HELLO,
    It is a very helpful article especially for new comers in Germany. My sun is going to move to Aaachen for a semester in RWTH University (ERASMUS+) and the campus where he will be settled asks for Privathaftpflicht insurance. Could you please inform us about the cost, coverage and suggest maybe an insurance company ?
    Thank you in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/07/2019 at 21:54

      Hey Nikolia. I have given a recommendation in the post already. I think it’s a good offer.

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