How do you keep your house, possessions, and loved ones safe in your new German home? Find out your options for home insurance in Germany.
Germany has a strong culture of insurance, and this stretches to protection for the home and belongings, too. Although no form of home insurance in Germany is compulsory by law, many choose to cover themselves against unfortunate risks such as house fires and burglaries.
To help you navigate through the various different products on the German home insurance market, we take a look at:
- Introduction to home insurance in Germany
- Home insurance companies in Germany
- Home contents insurance in Germany
- Building insurance in Germany
- Liability insurance in Germany
- Combined home insurance in Germany
- How to choose home insurance in Germany
- Applying for home insurance in Germany
- Making a home insurance claim in Germany
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Home insurance complaints in Germany
- Holiday home insurance in Germany
- Useful resources
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Introduction to home insurance in Germany
There are three general types of home insurance in Germany. These are:
- Home contents insurance (hausratversicherung) which covers movable belongings such as furniture, clothing, jewelry and equipment
- Building insurance, or homeowners insurance (wohngebäudeversicherung) which covers the fixed property such as walls, floors, ceilings and fitted units
- Homeowners liability insurance (hausrat-haftpflichtversicherung) which covers any accidents in your home that cause injury to third parties or damage to their property
None of these insurances is compulsory in Germany, however they may be a requirement in certain contracts. For example, contents insurance in rental contracts for furnished properties, or building insurance in mortgage agreements. You can purchase combined insurance, e.g. building plus contents, building plus liability, or all three. Many companies offer combined plans at a discounted price.
Although home insurance isn’t a legal requirement in Germany, it’s one of the most popular forms of insurance along with health insurance and car insurance. According to 2020 statistics, there were €12.6 billion of private property insurance premiums in Germany.
As with other forms of insurance, home insurance in Germany is regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).
Can you use home insurance from another country in Germany?
As Germany is an EU country, insurers based in other EU/EFTA nations can sell their products there as long as they comply with EU rules on insurance companies. In addition to this, there are many other global insurers operating in Germany. If you have home insurance from a broker licensed to trade in Germany, you should be able to transfer across your policy.
However, you won’t be able to use a home insurance policy from another country on the same terms. Any building insurance or combined policy will need to be recalculated based on your new German home and neighborhood. You might be able to use a contents policy on the same terms if you have purchased an extended insurance plan that includes coverage of your belongings abroad. It’s a good idea to check exactly what your policy says about this.
Home insurance companies in Germany
According to the latest statistics from the German insurance industry in 2020, there are 202 companies providing various types of home insurance in Germany. These include:
Home contents insurance in Germany
Home contents insurance covers your movable belongings kept in your home. Most standard contents insurance policies in Germany will typically cover furniture including carpets, clothing, jewelry, sports equipment, electronic equipment, and pets. You can usually purchase a higher-level all-inclusive policy that will include bicycles, equipment kept in gardens, and rented equipment.
Contents used for business or professional purposes will need a specific business insurance policy, while fitted kitchen and bathroom units come under separate building insurance. Motor vehicles need a car insurance policy.
Standard policies typically cover you in the event of fire, severe storms, water damage such as burst pipes, theft, and vandalism. You will usually need additional coverage if you want to insure against damage due to negligence, accidental damage by pets or guests, or incidents resulting in damage or loss of goods taken outside the home. Policies won’t protect against deliberate damage or general wear and tear.
Most companies pay out on the value of damaged or lost items, although standard policies may have limits on the maximum payout. Some firms use a calculation based on the size of the property in square meters multiplied by a set amount (usually around €500-600) to determine the maximum they will pay out. With extended policies, you can also include other costs such as clean-up costs, or costs of changing locks in the event of a break-in.
Most policies will typically require you to inform your insurer if you are away for a period longer than 60 days.
Costs of home contents insurance in Germany
Costs for home contents insurance in Germany depend on various different factors which can include:
- Value of your property and possessions
- Area where you live
- Security measures on your home, e.g. alarm systems
- Your personal insurance profile, for example your claims history
- Level of coverage you are purchasing
Basic contents insurance policies start at around €20-25 a year. You can get coverage of up to around €200,000 for around €50-60 a year. Check your likely annual premium rates on a cost simulator such as this one on Lemonade.
Many policies include deductibles. This is a fixed amount that you agree to pay towards costs before the company pays out. Sometimes you can choose to increase your deductible in exchange for a lower monthly premium.
Building insurance in Germany
Building insurance in Germany is usually known as residential building insurance or homeowners insurance. Many companies sell this as a standalone policy although it is more commonly combined with contents (and sometimes liability) in a home insurance package.
This insurance protects the structural “shell” of the building including walls, roof, floors, ceilings, garages, and sheds. You can normally pay extra for additional coverage that includes the likes of glass window panes and heating systems. If you want to cover any furniture, you will have to take out combined insurance that includes contents coverage.
Standard policies will insure against storm damage, fire damage, water leaks, and explosions. You usually have to pay extra for damage caused by negligence (e.g. building faults not repaired or overloaded electrical sockets), some natural disasters such as earthquakes, and terrorist attacks.
You should make sure that your policy covers the costs of a total rebuild of your home in the event of a severe disaster. Some policies may have a maximum payout limit. If you are unsure, get a professional valuation on the rebuild costs for your home. Many extended policies also pay out for alternative accommodation, storage costs, and cleanup costs.
Costs of building insurance in Germany
Similar to contents insurance, building insurance in Germany is based on several property factors including its type, age, size and condition, materials used, and cost of a rebuild. Other factors include location and the homeowner’s personal insurance profile.
Premium costs start at around €120-150 a year for basic coverage on smaller properties. If you have a larger family home, you are likely to pay around €250-300 annually. For expensive properties in more exclusive neighborhoods, it will be more.
Find out what you are likely to pay by using a cost calculator such as this one with HDI.
Liability insurance in Germany
Many people take out the precaution of liability insurance in Germany. This essentially insures you if you are involved in something that causes injury to third parties, damages their property, or results in a financial loss for them.
You can find two types of individual liability insurance in Germany:
- Private liability insurance (haftpflichtversicherung)
- Homeowners liability insurance (hausrat-haftpflichtversicherung)
The difference between the two is that homeowners liability insurance covers incidents that occur in your home, whereas private liability insurance covers incidents involving you both inside and outside the home. For example, if you have an accident in someone else’s home and damage their property.
Private liability insurance covers much of what you need in terms of incidents in your home, so you might not need to worry about this when buying home insurance if you already have a good liability policy. However, check what is and isn’t covered to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
If you buy property to rent out, then homeowners liability is a good idea as it protects you in the event of injury to tenants or damage to their belongings if something goes wrong in the property.
Many companies sell extended liability policies that include incidents caused by all family members in a household, pets, or employees in the home such as cleaners.
In German law, there is no limit to the amount someone can claim against you. Personal liability insurance helps avoid the risk of a nasty incident causing great financial harm. There are plenty of expat-friendly personal liability insurance options, including:
Cost of liability insurance in Germany
Costs of liability insurance in Germany depend largely on the type of liability coverage you’re taking out, the level of coverage, and your personal risk profile such as your claims history. You can get basic coverage for as little as €20 a year. A comprehensive plan that insures you against up to €100 million of damage will cost you around €120 a year.
Work out your likely premium rate using an online calculator such as this one from BavariaDirekt.
Combined home insurance in Germany
Companies will often sell combined insurance packages, usually at a slightly cheaper price than it would cost to take out individual policies. These packages can vary between different insurers. For example, one may offer contents plus liability, while another might sell building plus contents. You can also find bumper packages that include all three – contents, building and liability.
You can typically choose your exact level of coverage too. For example, choosing whether or not to insure valuables or contents kept outside the premises, or to protect against damage caused by negligence, and setting the liability limit.
Prices vary greatly, depending on which combination you choose. The average cost of German property insurance premiums in 2021 is €214.
How to choose your home insurance in Germany
When picking a premium, it’s important you also ask yourself a few questions about what type of policy you actually want. These should go beyond simply thinking about the price of the premium. Things you may want to consider could include:
- Does it make more sense to buy a combined policy? This may be the case if you’re an owner-occupier; however if you’re renting then the building insurance may be included in your rental costs.
- Do you have to pay a deductible?
- What are the coverages and exclusions?
- Does the company have a good reputation and positive feedback? Look at a few review sites for customer comments.
- What is the claims process, and how long does it take to get reimbursed? Are there any complicated hoops that you will have to jump through to make a claim?
- What are the cancellation policies and procedures?
- Does the company offer any incentives, e.g. discounts on other insurance or finance products if you shop with them?
- How does the company score in terms of ethics, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility (CSR)? You can check company ratings and performance on sites such as CSR Hub or Standard Ethics.
Applying for home insurance in Germany
Once you’ve chosen your insurance provider, you can typically apply for insurance in Germany online or over the phone. Some insurers also have main street stores that you can visit to apply in-person.
You will likely need to provide ID, proof of address and bank details (if paying by a direct debit plan). If applying online, you will normally receive the insurance policy and documents electronically within 24 hours.
Policies typically last for 12 months, although some can be arranged for longer periods such as 3-5 years. Some policies stipulate that you cannot cancel early without prior good reason; however, you can also find plenty of insurers that offer anytime cancellation policies.
Renewal with some companies is done automatically if you don’t notify them that you wish to cancel at least 30 days before the end of the policy. Check your policy details for renewal and cancellation information.
How to make a home insurance claim in Germany
Making an insurance claim in Germany will vary from insurer to insurer so be sure to check the procedure when you take out a policy. You can usually make a claim by phone or online. You will need to provide details of the claim, along with information on what has been lost or damaged. Because of this, it’s useful to keep receipts when you buy expensive products so that you have proof of how much they cost.
If you have been burglarized, you may need to provide details of the police report on the burglary. Deadlines for reporting and filing a claim with your insurer can vary from company to company. Again, check the small print for details so that you don’t miss out.
Once you have filed a claim, your insurer will investigate the claim based on the information provided and will then notify you of their decision.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
German insurance contracts typically run for 12 months, however some run for longer, and some may have a ‘cancel at any time’ clause. Because of this, check what the cancellation procedure is with your provider ahead of signing any agreement. If there is a minimum contract period, you may not be able to get out of the contract early without a specific reason.
Regardless, all insurance companies should offer an initial cooling-off period to customers, where they can cancel a contract shortly after signing up.
Reasons accepted for early cancellation on an insurance contract include if you sell your home, move elsewhere, or if your personal circumstances change significantly. Cancellation with German companies should be done in writing, either by letter or email.
Making a complaint about a home insurance company in Germany
If you are dissatisfied with the way your insurer is handling your file, you should contact the complaints department of the insurer in the first instance. Your insurance company should provide you with the necessary details when you sign up.
If you are not happy with the outcome or don’t hear back from the complaints team, you can either:
- Take the complaint to BaFin, who will investigate your complaint and issue a verdict within three months
- Contact the Insurance Ombudsman and register your complaint with them. The ombudsman is an independent dispute resolution expert, often highly qualified in the legal field. BaFin gives more information on financial ombudsman services in Germany.
Holiday home insurance in Germany
Holiday homes and second homes are generally not covered by home insurance policies in Germany. If you have a German holiday home, you will need to take out additional coverage both for the building and any contents within. You can find specialist holiday home building and contents insurance brokers, such as IntaSure in the UK.
Renters of German holiday homes will normally have coverage of any movable property within the home included within rental costs; however, this will not cover additional belongings taken into the home for the duration of the holiday. Check to see if you can extend your standard home contents insurance policy to include vacations and overnight stays elsewhere.