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Germany - General Insurance Information

An extensive list of the sorts of insurance available in Germany!

In Germany, insurance cover exists for absolutely every type of damage you can imagine, so there is a wealth of insurance companies, large and small, on the market. The following list of available insurances may seem a little over-the-top, but most people have them.

Health and Accident Insurance, "Krankenversicherung":
Health insurance is compulsory. You and your employer pay half the premium each, which is taken as a percentage of your salary (regardless of actual income).

Income Insurance, "Berufsunfähigkeits-Versicherung", "Einkommenversicherung":
There used to be a state insurance against inability to work, but this exists no longer, so if you want income insurance you must insure yourself privately. Inability to work can be caused by sickness, injury, being on holiday and unable to return from a land where war has broken out (it actually says that in the brochure!). Your dependents can also be insured.

Travel Insurance, "Reiseversicherung":
Travel insurance is quite handy to have when going on holiday, because you can find yourself in a completely different country within an hour or so, where none of your German insurance policies will cover you. There are many components to travel insurance, including "Auslandsreise-Krankenversicherung" health insurance, "Reiserücktrittskosten-Versicherung" which covers the costs of needing to return home early, and "Reisegepäckversicherung" for lost or damaged luggage. You may also need to update your car insurance to cover any damage caused by you or to you outside Germany.

Life Insurance, "Lebensversicherung":
This is either paid as a lump sum when the person dies before retiring, or if they reach retirement age it can either be paid as a lump sum or as regular pension payments.

Car Insurance, "Autoversicherung":
There are three different levels of policy: motor liability insurance "Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflicht-Versicherung", partial coverage "Teilkasko" and comprehensive insurance "Vollkasko". You can also take out insurance against injuries caused to passengers "Kfz-Unfallversicherung" and insurance for legal costs involved with traffic offences incurred in a foreign country.

Pet Owner Insurance, "Tierhalter-Haftpflichtversicherung":
German law is very strict about the responsibility, both civil and financial, that an owner bears for their pet. If your pet causes some sort of injury or damage - including if the animal bites an intruder on your own property - you are legally liable for all damages. Tierhalter-Haftpflichtversicherung is 'indispensible' for dog and horse owners and is also available for... (Author's comment: I can hardly type because I am laughing so much)... cats, hamsters, and budgerigars!

Personal Liability Insurance, "Haftpflichtversicherung":
This sort of insurance cover is really indispensible. Everybody has it, and if you cause any sort of damage you are expected to use it to make up for your inadvertent misdemeanour. Haftpflicht insurance costs around 50 Euros per year and covers both yourself, your partner and unmarried children up to the age of 21, or unmarried children who are still studying.
Haftpflichtversicherung covers damage to the property you are renting, other people's property, or damage or injury you inflict on others whilst playing sport (unless it's a motor sport, or involves hunting or flying).

House and Contents insurance, "Hausratversicherung":
Depending on your policy, house and contents insurance insures against damage to the kitchen, household appliances, furniture, curtains, clothing, pictures, carpets, jewellery, cash, books, records/CDs, and anything of worth in the house including valuable coin or stamp collections caused by theft, vandalism (as part of a break-in), fire, lightning, an explosion, defective plumbing (including overflowing baths and sinks), storm, hail, flood, snow avalanches, landslides and earthquakes.

Insurance Against Damage Caused by Broken Glass, "Glasbruchversicherung":
Glasbruchversicherung covers all damage caused by broken glass, including glass from picture frames!

Home Owner Insurance, "Eigentumsversicherung":
Home owner insurance is for any property you own, whether you live in it yourself or rent it out. Depending on your level of cover you can insure against damage caused by fire, defective plumbing, storm, hail, flood, snow and mud avalanches, landslides, earthquakes and associated costs with rescue.

Insurance against environmental damage, "Gewässerschaden-Haftpflichtversicherung":
If you, our something you own, leaks oil into the waterways, Gewässerschaden-Haftpflichtversicherung covers the cost of environmental clean-up services.

Insurance to Cover Legal Costs, "Rechtsschutzversicherung":
Rechtsschutzversicherung covers legal costs incurred in a variety of ways: disputes between landlords and tenants, legal expenses due to traffic violations, etc.

Insurance against Paying Inheritance Tax, Erbschaftssteuerversicherung":
In 1997 a new law was passed making changes to the amount of tax heirs and beneficiaries must pay for inherited goods. This tax starts at 7% for immediate family who inherit amounts of 52 000 euros or less, and increases to 50% depending on the amount inherited and the relationship to the deceased. There are some tax exemptions for particular goods and amounts below a certain threshold for heirs. The Erbschaftssteuerversicherung is taken out in addition to life insurance by the person who is expecting to die, leaving their many worldly goods to distribute, or by one of their heirs on their behalf.

Useful vocabulary

Car insuranceAutoversicherung
Claim, claim formAnspruch, Formular
Excess paymentSelbstbeteiligung
Health InsuranceKrankenversicherung
Home InsuranceHausratsversicherung
Life InsuranceLebensversicherung
Travel InsuranceReiseversicherung
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