Covering yourself against liablities and other problems


Apart from the obligatory social insurance there are also a number of possibilities of obtaining private insurance to cover other eventualities.

You can seek advice on different types of insurance from private insurance companies or from insurance consultants ( Versicherungsberater). Be aware that some consultants receive commissions on insurance they sell, so their advice may be biased. If you want unbiased advice, you should find an independent insurance consultant. Some banks also offer insurance consultancy as part of their financial advice.

Personal liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

In Germany everyone is liable for damage done to a third party. It can therefore be advisable to take out a (family) third-party insurance ( Haftpflichtversicherung) for the duration of your stay (note that parents are liable for their children!). This protects you against claims from third-parties resulting from unintentionally caused damage. When damage is due to severe negligence of your part, payments may be reduced or even refused. Standard third-party insurance policies are not expensive and conditions usually similar between providers.

Legal expense insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)

You can also consider a legal expenses policy, which will pay for the cost of a lawyer and associated costs if you require legal assistance or have to go to court. According to individual needs, policies are often only taken out for specific areas (tenancy matters, cars etc). It is recommendable to seek consumer advice in this area.

Household insurance

Hausratsversicherung (household insurance) covers costs incurred in the case of burglary, vandalism, storms and other events. It usually replaces damaged items at their current value, including furniture, appliances and a limited amount of cash. The insurance cover should correspond to the actual cost of the items insured in the household. If you have possessions of high value, it might be necessary to take out an additional policy.

Life insurance

Lebensversicherung (life insurance) is a commonly-held policy in Germany. It guarantees the family of the insured person a fixed cash sum if they die.

Many Germans also consider life insurance as a form of long-term investment for old age. Term-insurance ( Kapital-Lebensversicherung) requires you to pay premiums for a certain number of years and pays out the capital accrued at the end of the agreed term. If the insured person dies before this time, the money is paid out directly to his beneficiaries. In most cases, life insurance premiums are tax deductible and the proceeds are often considered as a supplement to pension insurance.

Further reading

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