Travel insurance for Germany: know this before picking one.
Travel insurance for Germany is relevant whether you are applying for a visa or simply planning a road-trip to Bavaria.
It’s a crucial topic to consider because it’s required for entry for a lot of us. We also want that peace of mind for a good price and good conditions.
At the end of this guide, you will understand whether or not you need one, the things to consider to pick the right travel insurance for Germany & the providers to consider.
Back to basics: what is travel insurance?
Broadly speaking, travel insurance is intended to cover things like medical expenses, lost luggage, trip cancellations, flight accidents and other types of losses incurred. Whether you’re off hiking in Saxony’s national park or flying over to Munich for Oktoberfest.
The way that travel insurance is arranged, is either through a “multi-trip” policy that covers an unlimited amount of trips within a set time frame, or is selected as an add-on for one particular trip.
There are various types of German travel insurance policies out there, and it’s important to find the right one for you. Are you just on holiday for a few weeks? Are you coming over as part of an exchange programme? Are you required to get travel insurance for your German visa?
If an accident happens, this is how it works:
- You get treatment at the doctor or the hospital. You won’t be rejected if you don’t have your details on you.
- You show your insurance certificate.
- You can pay upfront & seek reimbursement from your company before. It is possible for the bill to be sent to the insurance company directly.
Who needs travel insurance in Germany?
Travel insurance is needed in the following cases:
- Anybody who’s local insurance does not cover travel to Germany or certain activities already.
- As a third-country national, you might need it for your short-stay visa or a for a for Schengen visa.
- When you need to show a certificate of travel insurance at your first place of entry in the Schengen zone, even if you do not need a short-stay visa.
- Visa applicants who are looking for a long-term residence permit (typically work visa or freelance visa). They need a certificate of insurance that matches the level of coverage offered by local statury insurance. This type of travel insurance needed differs slightly – it’s travel insurance that is sometimes also referred to as “incoming insurance” or “expat insurance”, and is only valid for a set amount of time. More on this in the next point.
Travel insurance for visa applicants: incoming insurance
It can be used by people moving here temporarily or by people moving here for a few years. – like freelancers, students, interns or au pairs who are getting travel insurance along with their visa for Germany. And it’s especially important if you set foot in Germany prior to your official start date. That’s because your German statutory health insurance only covers you from that date onwards, if you qualify. This means you won’t be insured for the weeks or days between your arrival and start date at work or university. So if you’re signing up for travel insurance in order to get a German visa, I’d advise you to refer to my more detailed blog post on incoming or German expat health insurance here.
What does travel insurance in Germany cover?
It’s difficult to say for sure, since it depends on the insurer and policy, but typically, comprehensive travel insurance in Germany covers:
- Emergency medical expenses in the case of an accident or any illness that requires urgent treatment here in Germany
- Lost deposits and cancellation fees in the case of having to shorten or cancel your trip due to unexpected circumstances
- Stolen or lost baggage and/or travel documents
- Liability expenses if you cause injury or property damage to someone else
- Rental car insurance deductibles in the case of a stolen or damaged rental vehicle
- Theft of money from your person
- Repatriation to your home country in case of death (a bit sombre, but has to be addressed)
What does it not cover?
Leider, you are expected to act sensibly during your trip (I’m looking at you, Oktoberfest-goer). You’re also required to be honest at all times with your insurer, but that goes without saying. If you fail to do so, your claim could be denied.
Incidents that could let you down:
- Damages due to a car accident with a car you rented. Extra car insurance is advisable for that.
- Turning a blind eye to a travel advisory.
- Leaving your baggage unattended in a public place.
- Being hospitalised due to a pre-existing medical condition that wasn’t previously disclosed to your insurance provider.
- Injuring yourself or another person whilst under the influence of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.
- Injuring yourself whilst playing adventure or winter sports without extra coverage.
- Extraordinary situations like war, terrorism or civil unrest (though you’re generally safe in Germany).
What are the typical limitations of travel insurance in Germany?
In case you do have any pre-existing medical conditions or you’re simply a bit of a daredevil, there is the possibility to get extra coverage at an additional cost. Be aware that the rates will vary greatly depending on the provider.
You can often even buy separate insurance for specific cases, such as:
- Pre-existing medical conditions like asthma or diabetes
- Travel to hish-risk countries where you might encounter war, terrorism or natural disasters
- Sports that have an element of risk such as mountain climbing, skiing or scuba diving
- Specific event coverage, which refunds travel cancellation costs in case the destination is for a concert or an event that could get cancelled
- Third party supplier insolvency in the event that your hotel or airline goes into administration
Which German travel insurance providers should you consider
Not all policies are made equal. You want providers that comply with Schengen visa requirements:
- Both personal and business travel for up to 180 days.
- No age limit.
- Obtain proof insurance immediately after purchase, format approved by embassies & customs.
- Check that the policy covers the whole Schengen territory.
- Pick a policy that covers at least 30 000€.
- Pick a policy that covers at repatriation in case of emergency care & death event.
- You can sign-up online in English.
- Get immediate proof of insurance.
- Have access to 24/7 customer care and emergency assistance.
- Zero or very low premiums/deductibles
Criteria to use when comparing providers
If you’re looking to buy an insurance policy, I’d recommend doing it online. This way, you can avoid the fees charged by third parties, such as travel agents. Make sure to take your time researching the policies, and ask yourself the right questions when doing the comparison:
- Do you need insurance for a single trip or does an annual policy for multiples returns make more sense?
- How long do you plan on being away for?
- What will you be doing on your trip? If you’re off skiing in Bavaria, make sure you’re covered
- What kind of valuables are you taking with you? Make sure the cap is high enough if you have an expensive camera
- Could your pre-existing medical conditions become an issue? Make sure to declare them so you can find a policy accordingly
- Could there be any travel risks at your destination? Some risks in Germany could be protests or poor road conditions
Always be discerning
Like everything in life, looks can be deceiving. So make sure to pay attention when picking your travel insurance. Insurance policies may all look the same at first glance, but some will include more coverage than others in aspects that are more or less important to you. You need to ask yourself : “What are my priorities?”
In addition to this, these are some other details that you should keep an eye out for:
- Check if you potentially belong to a category that is eligible for cheaper insurance plans. Most companies provide deals for groups, students, families, etc.
- Check if they operate with direct billing or reimbursement.
- Direct billing is when the place that you get medical care in sends the bill to your insurance company, who then completes the payments
- Reimbursement is when you pay the expenses yourself but obtain a bill which can be sent to your insurance company, who will then reimburse you
It’s difficult to give a reasonable range of prices. Expect anything between 1€ to 7€ per day for foreign visitors. A wealth of criteria will set the price of your travel insurance for Germany. There are few common factors however:
- The purpose of your visit (leisure, studies, work, etc).
- Your status (student, family, single, freelancer, etc).
- Your age.
- How long you stay in Germany.
- How high the coverage is.
- How high the deductible is.
- Extras related to extreme sports or dangerous activities.
Here again, it pays off to shop around and compare providers.
What to do in case of an emergency?
If you think that having travel insurance is “German” enough, think again. Though everything should go smoothly during your stay in Germany, touch wood, there is the risk that something goes wrong, and it’s a good idea to be prepared. The best thing is to keep this short list of numbers to call just in case:
- Your travel insurance’s number. Most of them operate an emergency assistance line 24/7 that can be called from anywhere in the world. They can help you seek out a medical provider, report stolen items or provide any other kind of information you’re unfamiliar with.
- Friends and relatives. Getting travel insurance for Germany will help you sort most things out here, but if you’re looking for financial support, having close ones’ contacts would be the best option. They can wire you emergency funds that can be claimed back from your insurance company later on.
- Germany’s emergency services. If you or anyone around you is in danger and you need to ring the police, fire brigade or ambulance, call the national emergency numbers – 110 for the police, and 112 for the rest.
- Your embassy or consulate. In case you lose your passport or have legal issues, be sure to keep your embassy’s number on you. They could be the only ones able to bail you out of a sticky situation.
Useful tips for your visit
If you haven’t already visited the Land of the Deutsch, here are some tips that should prepare you for your trip to Germany – travel insurance aside.
- Always have cash on you. Somehow, Germany hasn’t yet caught up with the times on that front, and you can barely use card to pay (yes, even in expensive restaurants).
- Using the bathroom will cost you. It’s a good thing you now have cash on you, because public toilets aren’t free in Germany. You’ll have to pay between 50 cents and 1 euro if nature calls whilst you’re at a train/bus station, or at a shopping centre.
- Shops are generally closed on Sundays. If you come from a place where you have access to everything at every time, this might come as a bit of a shock to you. And it’s easy to forget, so make sure to keep your groceries stocked up.
- Water isn’t free in restaurants. German restaurants frown upon customers ordering tap water, and you are expected to pay for a bottle. Make sure you specify if you want it still, as sparkling water is often the norm.
- Get to your bus or train on time. If you’re as flaky as puff pastry and think that being a couple of minutes late is fine, you’ll need to readjust. Local buses and trains are pretty punctual.
- Watch out for bike lanes: Many cities in Germany have dedicated bike lanes next to the curb. Bikers will expect you to move out of the way!
- Keep a digital copy of your passport or ID card at hand. Scan your passport, send it to yourself via email. Done. That’s pretty handy if you need help from your embassy.
I hope this broad introduction helped make an informed decision when picking your travel insurance for Germany. I wish you a great stay. Don’t hesitate to leave a question or a comment!Bastien