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What you should know about Insurance BEFORE you arrive in Germany

INSURANCE is an issue that can largely be arranged before arriving in Germany. A small amount of research will ensure that all necessary policies will be in place quickly and efficiently when you need them and in a form that meets your requirements. The different types of insurance are:

1. Third-party Private Liability Insurance

The most important insurance for expatriates is at the same time probably the least expensive. This policy should be in place when you rent a house or apartment. Germany is becoming increasingly litigious and foreigners can all too often be regarded as fair game for a spurious claim. A high quality policy, with good coverage, will provide you with protection by taking over the management of a claim against you. Third-party liability insurance can be arranged to start on the day you arrive in Germany and can cover your family, yourself and your dogs and horses.

2. Household Contents Insurance

This can also be made to start when you arrive in Germany or at the latest when you unpack your belongings once they have arrived. The list of possessions and their values set out in your packing lists is all that is needed to establish the value of your possessions. Cover is for set claims for damage resulting from fire, storm, burglary and flooding caused by broken pipes.

3. Car Insurance

This can be arranged quickly and efficiently, but only when you have decided upon which car you want to lease or buy. A few German insurance companies will accept no-claims records earned with insurance companies outside Germany as long as these are evidenced by your having an original letter from your previous insurers. (A broker's letter will not do). Please ask your current insurance company to prepare such a letter for you before you leave.

4. Legal Assistance Insurance

This insurance is more 'optional' than the others, but the experience of our clients over many years has shown how valuable it can be. Legal assistance insurance pays your attorney's fees where you need to take someone to court. It can be especially useful when you have problems with a landlord or employer here.

5. Health Insurance

German approved health insurance is now mandatory for all residents of Germany, whether employed, self employed or indeed not employed.

Depending on your personal situation, you may be forced to use either the government or private health insurance schemes.

The regulations have recently become more complex than was the case in the past; it is highly recommended that you consult an English-speaking and experienced health insurance specialist before you arrive in order to determine your options.

Insurance Information supplied by Cathy J Matz-Townsend. Copyright 2009. All information as per April 2009 - no guarantee for accuracy or completeness. Published with permission from author.

Also see our article "Insurance in Germany" for more detailed information on insurance in Germany.