It's probably not on your urgent “to do” list immediately after moving to Germany.
However, once you're settled in, arranging some personal liability insurance is definitely something I highly recommend getting fixed up with.
What's more, the cost versus the potential risk of not having it really makes it a no-brainer.
To save you another bureaucratic hassle and another inflexible German contract, we've teamed up with our partner, Coya, an insurance startup based in Berlin. They offer this cover 100% in English and with a completely flexible cancellation policy, at very competitive prices compared to the market.
If you're looking for advice on other types of insurance, we've got you covered here.
Liability insurance Germany: A (very affordable) necessity
First though, let's run through a few reasons why you might be thankful you have this cover in place.
Personal liability insurance covers you against any accidental damages or consequential losses which are a direct cause of your actions.
Let's run through a couple of examples:
- You're at a house party and you accidentally spill coffee or red wine onto your host's expensive Persian rug. Your liability insurance would cover the cost of the dry cleaning bill, or worse, the cost of a new rug if the stains can't be removed.
- A friend of mine went to a pool hall after drinking a few beers and accidentally ripped the green baize covering on the pool table. Because he had personal liability insurance, he did not receive a bill from the owner for several hundred Euro to repair the damage.
- On a weekend away in an Airbnb with your partner, you accidentally drop a heavy object like an iron onto the parquet floor, scratching and denting the wood. The owner of the property threatens to sue you for the damages, which could be hundreds of Euro (German tradesmen are expensive!).
All of these are perfectly legitimate reasons (in the eyes of the law at least) to pursue you for the financial losses incurred. Most Germans would consider it completely normal behaviour to ask the person who caused the damages for compensation.
Whether or not it was an accident is viewed as irrelevant. Virtually everyone has personal liability insurance in Germany, and so it's assumed that the person being asked to compensate would not end up being hundreds of Euro worse off.
Is it REALLY so essential to have this?
You might be thinking “but why do I need this insurance? I didn't have anything like it in my home country”.
A perfectly sensible question.
Firstly, Germany's legal system makes it very simple to sue for minor accidental damages caused by an individual which have inflicted a financial loss unto another individual.
Secondly, many Germans have legal insurance, making it relatively easy to sue someone at will without the risk of being put off by prohibitively high legal costs.
Finally, a lot of this is cultural. For example, if a waiter, say, in Buenos Aires spills red wine on my nice new white shirt, the attitude may be mild annoyance, followed by a shrug and an “oh well, shit happens” type of reaction. Maybe the meal will be on the house, so the restaurant owner can show his empathy and appear contrite. But otherwise, no pasa nada.
Germans are somewhat less laid back in this regard. If you've accidentally caused a situation which could impact another individual financially, you're expected to take responsibility and financially recompense the losses which they have incurred.
The live and let live philosophy isn't really pervasive in German culture when it comes to anything financial. Germans have a more black-and-white attitude towards how they view money and personal responsibility than most other cultures. I'm not saying it's good or bad per se, it's just very different to cultures in other parts of the world, and something you will definitely need to get used to if you live in Germany.
What does it cost and how can I apply?
The cost depends on a few simple questions to evaluate your personal circumstances and the level of cover you require.
Typically, a simple personal liability insurance for a single person with standard coverage limits will cost between €30 – €40.
We've partnered up with Coya to provide this cover. We like them for 3 main reasons:
1 – Ease of applying – website is easy to understand and 100% in English. Coverage is next day without the need to sign forms or send paperwork by “snail mail”.
2 – Unlike most other insurers, there are no sneaky clauses which automatically renew your policy and only allow you to cancel your policy once a year.
3 – Ongoing correspondence and documentation is in English, including any online chats with their customer service.*
* Your actual policy will be in German because Coya doesn't underwrite the actual insurance themselves. However, all customer service correspondence with Coya is offered in English.
Live Work Germany is an affiliate of Coya and as such earns a modest commission from any personal liability insurance Germany sign-ups generated through this article. This has no bearing whatsoever on the cost of your insurance.