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. 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,

45 Comments

  • 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 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.

  • Reply Ivan 07/07/2019 at 12:31

    Wow, this article covered almost everything I needed to know about Haftpflichtversicherung. I didn’t know about this kind of insurance and my new landlord just told me that is highly recommended.
    I’ve just one last question for you: since I’m moving to a new apartment which is fully furnished (also with brand new stuff like washing machine, microwave etc..), I’d like to cover these items. Is this kind of insurance working for this purpose? I mean, does it cover also the damages to the landlord’s furniture?
    Thanks 😀

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/07/2019 at 21:31

      Hey Ivan. You’d probably need to sign-up for Hausratversicherung, which covers the contents of your home.

  • Reply Ely Ess 20/06/2019 at 09:10

    Hi there, wonderful article. I have a 2 part question for you, what is the difference between Haftpflichtversicherung vs Privathaftpflicht insurance? In your opinion which one makes more sense to have if you want to cover water and fire damage? We just recently moved into a Berlin flat and a week after there is water damage to our downstairs neighbor’s ceiling. who is liable to cover this, our landlord, who we are renting from or us? Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/06/2019 at 09:15

      Hey Ely. It’s hard to answer on such little details. It depends on why/how the damages happened. If it happened because of faulty set-up, pipes in the apartment, then it’s probably on the landlord’s policy. If it’s due to a mistake of yours, then probably you.

      • Reply Ely Ess 28/06/2019 at 09:13

        Thank you for your reply! I believe it is due to faulty pipes…The pipes sputter and vibrate when we use the shower (the landlord is aware of the issue, but is on a long holiday and won’t get back until August 1). :/ Can you run through the quick differences between hausratversicherungen vs privathaftpflicht?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/06/2019 at 22:23

          Hey Ely. If it’s faulty pipes, then your landlord’s insurance covering it.

  • Reply Ramesh 09/06/2019 at 12:52

    It was very informative article, Thanks:) I am staying in a rented house in Germany, I am looking for a liability insurance which can cover any damages that might occur accidentally to the rented house, for example, Any damages to the bathrooms, kitchen fittings or any objects in the house. Could you please suggest which type of insurance should be purchased.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/06/2019 at 15:49

      Hey Ramesh. Are looking more for “home contents insurance” maybe? That would be “Hausratversicherung” as described there.

  • Reply Kumar Muniandy 30/05/2019 at 14:58

    Hey Bastien, is there an insurance for Yoga teachers? Incase of an accident of my students or they sue you for injury etc?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/06/2019 at 10:01

      Hey Kumar. I think you are looking for a professional liability insurance in this case then. “Beruf-Haftplicht” would be the keyword here but there is no policy meant for yoga teachers in particular. It’s a good idea to improve on this post, covering professional use. I will do that soon.

  • Reply Vishal Kumar Verma 21/05/2019 at 11:21

    This is really a Nice Article. Thanks for the information.
    I have one question. Some insurances like Axa says that ” 2 years without damage “. Do you what is this kind of plan ?
    Any information regarding this would be helpful as Axa customer care do not speak english and they do not reply on emails.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:58

      Hey Vishal. I don’t really understand the sense of the question. I think some words are missing in there somewhere…

  • Reply Liz 21/05/2019 at 10:42

    Hi Bastien, appreciate this information on liability insurance. I’m renting a gite in France and they have specifically asked for the insurance to cover fire and water damage. I am unable to find such specific information on any of the German insurance websites. Any recommendations or advice would be great. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:58

      Hey Liz, in this case, you’d probably need a travel insurance of some sort, that covers house damages during this time.

  • Reply Kate brown 20/05/2019 at 09:21

    Many thanks for this informative article. Will cover extend to when abroad? I still spend lots of time in Switzerland and was wondering if I need separate cover

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:55

      Hey Kate, you’d need to check the conditions of your contract. Some of them do, some of them don’t.

  • Reply PD 16/05/2019 at 23:16

    Hey,
    Nice article while choosing liability insurance. I came across Schlüsselverlust in which one insurance company is providing 30,000 euros and providing some other benefits and one insurance is providing 300,000 euros but it is providing some less benefits compared to the first one. While choosing which is the best as for any single person with no kids.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 13:50

      Hey Praneeth. This is a decision to make for yourself. Liability is also there to cover you from massive costs. When you think about it, 30 000 euros is not covering the costs of destroying a single car, if it ever came to that. I personally have coverage until 3 million.

  • Reply Amudhan 16/05/2019 at 13:26

    This is a very good article , especially for new comers to Germany. I have a very similar question like Awais. I have just rented a fully furnished apartment in Munich and my family has just joined me to stay in the apartment. My daughter (2 years old) is very curious and plays with all the items in the flat ( wall hangings to TV to Electronic items, etc…) I already have Haftpflichtversicherung (Covering myself, Family members) and now planning to get Hausratversicherung as well. In case my daughter smashes the TV / Audio System/ Wall hanging etc.. in this flat, Will this liability Insurance cover these damages as well? Will my insurance pay the cost to my land lord? Please let me know.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 13:45

      Hey Amudhan. Yes, but make sure to look at conditions of your Hausrat contracts to see what’s included and what’s not.

  • Reply amos 30/04/2019 at 14:15

    Great article! I have Haftpflichtversicherung, do i then need a glass insurance? technically liability insurance should cover it right?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/05/2019 at 22:44

      Hey Amos. Depends on the policy, sometimes it’s covered, sometimes it’s not and you would need an Hausrat on top.

  • Reply Karthikeyan 17/04/2019 at 21:59

    hi, today on my rental apartment a fire accident occurred would like to know will it be covered in liability insurance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 09:24

      Hey Karthikeyan. That would be covered by Hausratversicherung typically. Sorry to hear about it.

  • Reply Awais 12/03/2019 at 10:38

    Hello, that’s a really good article there.

    Just one question. I live in a furnished, rented apartment. Would liability insurance cover anything that breaks in the house? Like if I break the TV by mistake, and since I don’t own that TV, would the insurance cover that?

    and is there an amount? Like if the light bulb stopped working (because it’s old or whatever) and I want to get it repaired, would liability insurance cover that?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 08:41

      Hey Awais. That would actually fit “Hausratversicherung” better in this case as described here. You should also check what your contract says.

  • Reply Roger 06/03/2019 at 21:05

    Hi
    Im after public liability for my part time window clean business

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/03/2019 at 23:00

      So that would be a Berufhaftplficht then?

  • Reply Qi 01/03/2019 at 02:23

    Hi Bastien,

    I hope this message finds you well.

    Your articles are so helpful and I am reading them like a scientific journal.

    I will be studying in Berlin and I would like to buy liability insurance. However, I know there are many options. Do you recommend any? And, would it be possible for me to buy it before my arrival in Berlin, or, do I need a German bank account first?

    Please advise,

    Kind regards,

    Qi

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 20:14

      Hey Qi. I expect that you would need a German bank account first yes. Some companies like N26 allow you to open a bank account without being a resident in some cases. I cannot recommend you anything unfortunately as it really depends on many factors and the coverage you want, sorry.

  • Reply Dhara shah 13/01/2019 at 10:12

    Hello,

    The information is very useful to me..thank you but I have a question. Yesterday only an accident happened to me. We were in friends house and while grinding something in mixer jar I forgot spoon in the jar…and I start the mixer and it got damaged and jar lid and blade are broken. So is it cover here? How can I claim this ?

    Thank you in advance for your help

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:48

      Hey Dhara. Can’t really tell on such little details and without knowing your exact policy unfortunately. 🙁 It’s possible yes but unless it’s a very expensive mixer, it maynot be worth it… Good luck with it!

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