Essential facts in brief: Private liability insurance in Germany
- According to the law, you are liable for all damages that you have culpably caused to someone else – and for an unlimited amount.
- With private liability insurance, even gross negligence is covered.
- Only damage caused intentionally is excluded.
- Taking out private liability insurance is indispensable, and the insurance covers a risk that threatens your existence.
The three best liability insurances for expats in Germany
At the beginning of this article we would like to introduce you to our three favorites when it comes to liability insurance in Germany. GETSAFE, Lemonade & luko. All three liability insurances are perfect for expats as they offer their services completely online and in English. Thus, you can take out the insurance in seconds and get paid really fast when it matters.
#1 GETSAFE – German liability insurance
We would like to give you a brief overview of what is covered at GETSAFE. The insurance provider offers its services via a simple app. It is quick to understand and easy to use. With GETSFE, you are protected worldwide, up to a sum of €50 million. With a monthly contribution of less than 5€. GETSAFE has won several awards in the last years. In 2020, it was named Germany’s best insuretech company by two different institutions. In addition, the app is extremely well rated with 4.9 out of 5 stars.
What is covered?
Many leisure activities and hobbies are covered, too. Even if you lose your key, GETSAFE is there for you:
For example, if you’re driving a rental car in another European country and cause damage to someone else, it’s covered. Longer stays outside the EU are also covered up to 5 years. Within the EU, all damages are covered for an unlimited period.
If you lose your apartment key and the locks need to be changed because of it, you are covered for that. The same applies if you lose your work keys or the keys of your voluntary work.
GETSAFE’s policy also offers tenant protection and property protection, as well as protection for secondary employment. You can find more information on the website. Just click on the button.
Do you have a dog? You can also insure your dog with GETSAFE’s dog liability insurance. More information can be found on the website. Just click on the button.
#2 Lemonade – German liability insurance
Lemonade offers personal liability insurance that is designed for the 21st century. Lemonade also works through an app that allows you to get insured in just a few steps. You can also report damage through this app and get your money very quickly. With Lemonade, you can purchase insurance on a monthly basis and cancel at any time. You can buy personal liability insurance for as little as 2€ per month. Lemonade offers, for those who need it, the option to insure for household and liability together, from 4€ a month.
What is Covered?
- If you need a lawyer to defend you in court
- Medical payments to others (over $5,000, because that’s what your medical payments insurance is for)
- Payments for property damage
- Damage caused to others by members of your household
- Damage caused to others by your pets
#3 luko – German liability insurance
Luko is also an insurance company that is made for expats. It is 100% in English (and also has customer support in other languages), online and without annoying paperwork. Another advantage is that you can cancel it at any time and have 24/7 support. Luko is easy to use and simple to understand. You pay only 60€ per year, which is about 5€ per month.
What is covered?
- With Luko you are covered worldwide (up to 5 years) if you have your main residence in Germany.
- Also the costs for changing the locks if you lost your private or business key are covered.
- Damage caused by your pet (except dogs) is also covered. Likewise, you don’t have to worry if you’re taking care of someone else’s dog or horse. At Luko you can take out your own dog liability insurance.
- Luko covers damage to furnishings in vacation accommodations as well as temporarily/short-term borrowed, rented, leased or rented property.
- Luko defends you against unjustified claims for damages and enforce them in court if necessary.
Who needs what protection?
Everyone should take out private liability insurance because it protects you and others from damage that can cost millions of euros.
The following tariffs are to be distinguished:
In a single tariff, only you as the policyholder have insurance coverage.
In a family tariff, the protection is extended to other persons. Joint private liability insurance is sufficient for spouses or persons living in a consensual union. However, in the case of cohabitation, you should mention the partner in the policy. Children are generally covered as long as they are still in their first uninterrupted education (school).
In some cases private liability insurance is even mandatory, as for:
- House and landowners of rented or undeveloped property
- Animal owners, for example, dogs and horses
- Owners of oil tanks
- Owners of buildings
- owners of motorboats, sailboats, surfboards, airplanes, and motor vehicles
- Persons in public service, because of the possibility of recourse claims
When does the private liability insurance step in?
In the event of a claim, it is the task of the liability insurer to check whether the claims for damages made against you are justified. In doing so, liability insurance protects you comprehensively:
If the insurer deems them unjustified, it defends the claims at its own expense and risk. Liability insurance, therefore, offers what is known as “passive” legal protection.
If the insurer considers the claims against you to be justified, it will pay the claim. The prerequisite is that there is no exclusion in the insurance conditions – for example, you have not caused the damage intentionally (legally: with intent).
The damage should not enrich the injured party, and the liability insurer must follow this principle. Therefore, depending on the damage, these regulations apply:
In the case of property damage, the repair costs are always paid. If the item loses in value even after a repair, as often with cars, there is also a surcharge for this reduction in value.
In the event of a total loss, the current market value of the insured item is reimbursed. The current value is the replacement value of things of the same type and quality, considering age and wear and tear. The damaged party would receive enough money to buy a similarly good used bike as a replacement for a used bicycle.
In the case of personal injury, you can claim medical and hospital costs, costs for the alleviation of suffering, compensation for professional disadvantages, costs for the restoration of the ability to work, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for permanent damage (for example, pension payments) and other additional costs (for example, nursing staff).
How much should you insure?
It is important to note: In the cases mentioned, the insurer will only pay up to the coverage amounts for bodily injury, property damage, and financial loss specified in the insurance policy. If the damage is greater than you have insured yourself, you will have to pay the rest yourself.
Therefore, you should make sure that you are insured for a sufficient amount, and you should agree on around 10 million euros as the minimum coverage amount. The insurance should cover this sum in all three areas – personal injury, property damage, and financial loss.
Better – and available for only a few euros extra – are coverage amounts of 50 million euros. Make no mistake: such losses do occur in accidents involving several people!
What is insured?
Insured are the dangers of daily life. However, you will not be covered if you fail to carry out basic responsibilities.
Such cases could include:
- The neglect of the duty to supervise minors (not only one’s children but also those of others)
- The case of violation of traffic safety obligations (e.g., cleaning, gritting, and clearing snow on sidewalks)
- Disobeying traffic regulations as pedestrian or cyclist (also of electric bicycles)
- As a participant in private sporting activities such as soccer or tennis
- In the event of damage caused by your own or third-party rowing and paddle boats, surfboards, or third-party (borrowed or rented) sailboats
- As an owner of owner-occupied real estate (vacation apartments, vacation home/weekend house, condominium)
- As a particular owner in condominium complexes, for damage to the common property
- For the loss of other people’s private apartment keys or also professional keys
- As a builder for (re)construction measures to the extent of at least 20,000 euros construction sum
- For the risk of water damage for substances harmful to water commonly used in the household, such as paints, varnishes, heating oil
- For damage arising from the exchange, transmission, and provision of electronic data.
A frequent misunderstanding: What is not insured?
Favors: You are generally not obligated to pay damages if you help others at their request (for example, moving) and cause damage through simple negligence. You should discuss such favors with the other person beforehand and, if necessary, look for appropriate insurance for them.
Children incapable of fault: Children who have not yet celebrated their 7th birthday cannot be held responsible for damages under the law and are incapable of tort. In the case of damage in moving traffic, children can only be made accountable from 10 years of age. If the parents have not neglected their duty of supervision, the injured party then receives no compensation. However, you can look for a liability insurer that includes children of all ages. This way, you can avoid conflicts if your child causes damage.
Other essential clauses to watch out for
If someone causes you damage who doesn’t have liability insurance and can’t compensate you, it’s crucial that your liability insurance kicks in and pays you for the damage. You should make sure that your liability insurance provides this kind of coverage for these instances.
Make sure that any new risks that arise during the policy period are covered first, free of premium.
Example: You have taken out private liability insurance and acquired a dog for which you need pet owner liability insurance. The dog is then co-insured free of charge until the next premium due date. You can therefore take some time to conclude the pet owner liability insurance.
When taking out the policy, you should ensure that the coverage amounts of this precautionary insurance correspond to those of the primary insurance. Newly added risks – i.e., the acquisition of the dog – must, in any case, be reported to the insurer in good time.
When is insurance coverage at risk?
In the event of a liability case, you may not acknowledge the claim of the injured party or pay compensation without the written consent of your insurer. So don’t sign an admission of guilt or pay money, which may jeopardize your insurance coverage.
You must report the damage to your insurance company immediately.
Where is insurance cover available?
Private liability insurance is usually valid worldwide. However, it is usually a prerequisite that the stay abroad does not exceed one year. To avoid a rude awakening consult with your insurance before traveling abroad.
Within the European Union, the stay should be insured without any time limit – make sure that this is stipulated in your contract.
How is the premium calculated?
Rates are offered for singles, married couples without children, families, and dependents for certain occupational groups. Of course, this also affects how expensive the contracts are.
The agreement of a deductible per insured event does reduce the premium – but usually, this brings so little savings that you should better do without it.
For example, it is usually cheaper to pay the insurance premium once a year instead of monthly installments.
How can the contract be terminated?
Insurance contracts can usually be terminated with a notice period of (usually) three months to the end of the term. Without termination, the contract is automatically renewed for another year. After that, the agreement can be terminated annually – again with three months’ notice.
You can also cancel in the event of a claim or a premium increase.
And sometimes you can cancel at any time. These terms are usually stipulated in your contract.
Choosing a suitable provider and rate
The differences in premiums and benefits between providers of private liability insurance are enormous. If in doubt, seek independent advice!