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Supplemental Medical/Health Insurances (Zusatzversicherung) in Germany

German health insurance, depending on the type of policy you may have and depending on whether you are covered by a government run program (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) or through a private health insurance (Privatkrankenversicherung or PKV), normally provides adequate to good coverage for a wide range of health care.

However, again depending on the type of policy you have, not everything may be completely covered. For example, with a typical policy from the government insurance, you can expect to have hospitalization covered, but not for a semi-private or private room or with a private doctor or surgeon. There may also be some small fees that you may have to pay when in the hospital, visiting the doctor or picking up prescriptions. With both government run and private insurances some policies may have some coverage limits or restrictions on such things as alternative medicine, homeopathy, certain dental procedures or being insured outside of the country.

It is important to examine the benefits of your policy. If there are areas where you might feel that the coverage is not exactly what you want, then it might be a good idea to look into the possibility of getting some sort of supplemental insurance.

Supplemental insurances are not limited to health insurance. You may also want to consider other types of insurance that can provide for your wellbeing. Depending on your situation it might be a good idea to look at some of the other types of insurance regarding accidents, disability, travel and lost income due to illness. These may be especially important to those who are self-employed or freelancers and find themselves not covered by many of the social benefits that “employees” may get through their company.

Some supplemental insurance policies (in no particular order of importance) that might be of benefit include:

Long Term Nursing Care (Pflegeversicherung)

This is not an option. Everyone that has either government insurance or private health insurance is required to enroll. For employed persons this costs 1.95% or 2.2% of your salary up to a maximum of approximately 80 euros per month. Your employer contributes half of that. Those privately insured pay a premium to their insurer each month.

Travel Health Insurance (Reisekrankenversicherung)

This is slightly different than standard travel insurance that may cover lost luggage, flight cancellations and other things directly related to travel. Many standard health insurance policies will not cover the costs of emergency room visits, hospitalization or a doctor’s care outside of Germany. Many insurance companies will offer some sort of inexpensive supplemental travel health insurance to cover these things when you are abroad. Be sure to check the specifics of the insurance. There may be upper limits on the amount of coverage, the number of days you can be outside of the country and still be eligible for coverage or other restrictions. It is also important to see if there is coverage for repatriation or medical evacuation to Germany for continued care.

Income Protection Insurance (Krankentagegeldversicherung, Krankenhaustagegeldversicherung)

There are supplemental policies available that will pay a flat daily amount when you are sick and unable to work or find yourself in the hospital for an extended stay. While the Gesetzelichekrankenkasse policies may normally provide for a certain percentage of your income for up to 42 days of hospitalization, the benefit after that may diminish. Most private insurance companies offer different levels of coverage as a supplemental insurance. Check what you have with your standard policy and explore the options for this type of insurance. There are several permutations offering varying degrees of coverage. You’ll have to do your homework to find the proper level of coverage, but it will be worth it for your peace of mind. Your insurance agent should be involved in the process to make sure you get what you need.

Accident Insurance (Unfallversicherung)

The need for Accident Insurance is self-evident and should be taken seriously. Many companies will have in place insurance on employees that cover workplace accidents. The Social Security payments made by employees will normally include some sort of contribution to workmen’s compensation. A separate Accident Insurance policy can cover such things as the loss of a limb, an eye or even accidental death. There is a standard payout schedule for various injuries and conditions caused by an accident. Some accident policies may also offer income protection. There are a number of variations in coverage at different rates. Your insurance agent can tell you more.

Disability Insurance (Invaliditätsversicherung, Unfähigkeitsversicherung, Berufsunfähigskeitversicherung)

There are many types of disability insurance that cover many different circumstances. Those covered under the German Social Security System are most likely making payments into a fund that would cover certain disabilities. There are also separate insurance policies available to individuals for extra coverage and for those who are self-employed or otherwise not covered by Social Security. Policies are available that provide a pension for people who are disabled and cannot continue to work. It is important to examine the details of these policies. It is also important to start making contributions to these types of policies at a relatively young age to ensure adequate benefits should something happen. This is a complicated area and the advise of a competent insurance agent should be sought.

Supplemental Medical Insurance (Krankenzusatzversicherung)

A close examination of the benefits offered in your standard medical insurance policy might turn up some gaps that you may want to fill. For example, most policies will most likely not offer 100% coverage for dental care. And may restrict the dental procedures that it would cover - expensive crowns, implants etc. The same goes for coverage for eyeglasses. Also, alternative treatment with acupuncture, homeopathy or chiropractic treatment may not be covered. And there is the issue of semi-private or private rooms in the case of hospitalization. Over the last few years there have been a number of measures taken by the government to lower the costs of medical care and the extent of insurance coverage has been affected. Coverage in certain areas may not be as comprehensive as before. But there are many different supplemental medical insurance policies offered by a growing number of insurance providers that can help fill those gaps.

It is up to the customer to recognize the limitations of any policy and to take the proper steps to ensure that their coverage provides what they feel is necessary. It is important to enlist the help of a qualified and competent insurance advisor or agent to help in this process.

Some Common Words You May Encounter and What They Mean In English

Abmeldung
deregistration
Angehörige
dependents
Antragsfrist
deadline for application
Beitrag
premium
Beitragsrückerstattung
reimbursement of premiums
Bezugsberechtigter
beneficiary
Berufshaftpflicht
professional indemnity insurance
Betriebskrankenkasse (BKK)
company health insurance fund
Freibeträge
exemptions
Freiwillige versicherung
voluntary insurance
Gesetzliche Krankenkasse
statutory health insurance fund
Gruppenversicherung
group insurance
Haftpflichtversicherung
liability insurance
Hausratversicherung
insurance for household items
Karenzzeit
waiting period
Krankenhausbehandlungen
hospital care
Krankenschein
physician's sick notice
Krankentagegeld
daily sick pay
Krankenversicherung
health insurance
Lebensversicherung
life insurance
Leistung
benefit
Mietrechtsschutz
legal rent protection
Pflegeversicherung
long term nursing care insurance
Pflichtmitglied
compulsory member
Prämie
premium
Rechtsschutzversicherung
legal protection insurance
Reiseversicherungen
travel insurance
Rückversicherung
reinsurance
Selbstbeteiligung
coinsurance or deductible
Unfallversicherung
accident insurance
Versicherungsmakler
insurance broker (represents the client)
Versicherungsvertreter
insurance agent (represents the insurance company)
Vollversicherung
comprehensive insurance