Living in Germany? This guide explains everything you need to know about home insurance in Germany, from whether you need to where you can buy an expat-friendly policy.
Germany has a strong culture of insurance and this stretches to household belongings, too. However, although home contents insurance in Germany is not compulsory, many residents choose to protect their possessions against risk. To help you navigate the world of German home insurance, this guide looks at:
- Introduction to home contents insurance in Germany
- Types of German home insurance
- Home contents insurance costs in Germany
- Choosing home insurance in Germany
- Applying for German home insurance
- How to make a home contents insurance claim in Germany
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Holiday home insurance in Germany
- Useful resources
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Introduction to home contents insurance in Germany
The first thing you should know is that home contents insurance in Germany (hausratversicherung) is not a compulsory German insurance. However, it is often a requirement in rental contracts and may be worth looking into if you have valuable possessions.
This insurance differs from property insurance, often called homeowners insurance (Wohngebäudeversicherung) as it deals with movable assets and belongings rather than costs related to the actual building. However, it is possible with many German insurers to purchase a combined homeowners and contents insurance policy.
Home insurance in Germany is usually the responsibility of the tenant, although some landlords may include coverage for an additional fee. If you own your own home, your mortgage provider will usually require homeowners’ insurance for the property, but additional contents insurance is typically optional.
Home contents insurance in Germany is one of the most popular forms of insurance, alongside health insurance and car insurance. According to 2018 figures, there are just under 200 providers of contents insurance in Germany. These include:
As with other forms of insurance, home insurance in Germany is regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin)
Can you use home contents insurance from another country in Germany?
This will largely depend on what kind of coverage you have purchased in your home country. If you have paid for a policy which extends to cover household equipment in the case you move abroad, you may well be covered. However, this may be limited, so it’s a good idea to check what kind of coverage is included.
Types of German home insurance
There are generally two types of home insurance in Germany, although individual policies will vary in terms of what exactly they cover. The two types are standard home contents insurance and combined homeowners and contents insurance.
Home contents insurance
This is a separate policy that covers only movable assets that belong to you in your home. You will be covered against damage or loss of possessions in the event of incidences such as:
- severe storms
- water damage, e.g. burst pipes
- theft or vandalism
Most policies will cover all of your movable goods and equipment, including:
- clothing and jewelry
- sports equipment
- electronic equipment
- furniture, including built-in kitchens and carpets
Depending on your policy, you can often also get coverage for equipment taken with you on your travels (e.g. for holidays or overnight hotel stays), cleaning, removal, transport and storage costs relating to insurance claims, and costs of changing locks in the event of break-ins.
Examples of things that are not covered under standard policies are:
- vehicles, including bicycles (these usually need a separate policy)
- fixtures and fittings, which need to be covered by a homeowners policy
- rental equipment
- equipment or property not owned by you
- business equipment
- damage due to negligence (for example, if you leave doors opened/unlocked and suffer a burglary)
- damaged caused by pets or guests
- weather damage caused by rain or snow
Most policies will typically require you to inform your insurer if you are away for a period longer than 60 days.
Combined homeowners and contents insurance
This is a standard home contents insurance policy with added coverage to protect building damage and damage/loss of fixed property assets such as fixtures and fittings. This usually works out cheaper than buying two separate policies.
Home insurance in Germany usually pays out a lump sum based on the value of goods lost or damaged. The total value of coverage is usually based on an equation rather than combined value of all listed possessions. This is usually based on the total square meter size of the property x approximately €500-600. This will be the maximum amount that can be paid out.
Coverage for goods kept outside the premises in standard contents insurance policies are usually limited to a certain amount, which is around 10-15% of the value of the goods.
Home contents insurance costs in Germany
Costs for home insurance in Germany depend on various different factors including:
- the value of your property and possessions;
- the area where you live;
- the level of coverage you are purchasing
Basic contents insurance policies start at around €20 a year. You can get coverage of up to around €200,000 for around €50-60 a year.
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.
Choosing home contents insurance in Germany
If you’re looking to take out a German home contents insurance, you have plenty of options. Insurance is big business in Germany, and there is a wide range of providers to choose from. These include:
You can easily compare German contents insurance premiums using a comparison website such as Financescout24.
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?
Applying for German home insurance
Once you’ve chosen your insurance provider, you can typically apply for insurance in Germany online or over the phone. Some insurers also have high 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 contents 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 damage. 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 burgled, 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. If you are unhappy with the outcome, you should contact the complaints department of the insurer in the first instance. You can take the complaint to BaFin if you are not happy with the verdict.
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 anytime 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.
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.
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.
- BaFin – German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, which regulates insurance companies in Germany