Liability insurance in Germany: the essential coverage.
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. And guess what: sh*t happens. Everyone should prepare for random events like these. This is where liability insurance comes in.
If health insurance makes sure you heal from consequences of accidents. 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.
(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.
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, Coya or Feather Insurance. 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.