Tips on Health, Car and Household Insurance Before Arrival
Fast Track your Health Insurance
At a glance: 5 key facts about health insurance in Germany
It is essential to give health cover top priority.
- For permanent foreign residents in Germany, health insurance in compliance with German government regulations is mandatory.
An exception can be made if you are delegated by your employer to work in Germany for a period defined in your work contract usually not exceeding two to a maximum of three years.
- Health insurance complying with German regulations has to include:
- Mandatory nursing insurance (Pflegeflichtversicherung)
- A company representation in Germany
- An assurance that insurance cannot be cancelled because of health issues once the patient is insured.
- Reserves of at least 10% have to be levied to stabilize premiums on retirement.
- Failure to get proper health insurance set up in a timely way can result in fines being levied.
- This issue may become critical when you file your first tax return. You will have to indicate the amount you have paid for health insurance and provide a corresponding statement from your health insurance company.
- As an employee earning a fixed salary above 57,600 Euros in 2017 you can opt for health insurance in the public or private system.
If you are self-employed private cover is the only option open to you and your family. The same is normally true for foreign pensioners relocating to Germany.
Checklist: 3 Steps you need to take to get private health insurance.
- To set up private medical care you will need to answer detailed health questions. Start collecting information about your medical history going back as much as five years.
Do this before you come to Germany.
Necessary information to collect includes:
- What were you treated for?
- By whom?
- Medical records are easier to obtain before you move to Germany.
- Important: If medical documentation is not in German you may be obliged to provide a translation.
- If you are currently having medical or dental treatment, try to get this completed if possible before you try to take out private health cover in Germany.
- Obtain confirmation from your current health insurance company showing details of your cover with them.
You may feel that it is unfair that complying with German regulations requires that you relinquish your current health insurance - especially if you are extremely satisfied with the medical cover provided.
But it is the law. Better to take it into account and start planning for it now than to start your new life in Germany with a very unpleasant surprise.
If you have been driving for many years you may have built up a no-claims bonus in your home country. For newcomers German insurance companies are prepared to take this into account when determining a no-claims bonus (NCB). This is an attempt to ensure that the premium fairly reflects how carefully someone has been driving in the past.
However, NCB systems vary from country to country. And the certificates confirming the NCB vary even more or may even not be forthcoming. Some insurance companies refuse to send letters abroad or to produce anything more than a standard letter, which is frequently not adequate. Customer care for ex-customers can be quite dire. Getting all this sorted out by phone and mail from overseas can prove to be arduous and may not be completely successful.
It is worth getting this right, however, as your no claims bonus, once it has been established, stays with you in Germany – even if you change your insurance company. If you cannot provide documentation you may end up paying 230% of the regular premium. When you leave Germany your NCB will be documented in a certificate for the next insurance company. So each percentage point lower means savings over a long period.
Before you move to Germany talk to your current insurance company. Explain the above to them and why it is important for you. Ask them to provide a document that includes the following:
- Full name and date of birth of person insured.
- Policy number.
- Type of vehicle insured –car, motorcycle, camper etc.
- Type of insurance - liability, fully comprehensive
- Date when insurance commenced expressed as DD:MM:YYYY. This is sometimes a problem. Your current insurer has probably based his NCB on your records with previous companies. Try to get confirmation going back as far as possible. If necessary you may have to chase up records at a number of previous insurers, which can be extremely tedious but worthwhile in the long run.
- Date when insurance ceased expressed as DD:MM:YYYY. Your German insurer needs to know that you have ceased using the NCB back home. So if you are using your insurance right up until the day you leave make sure your insurer is prepared to confirm the date when the policy ended and send the paperwork on to you ASAP.
- The certificate should also indicate if there have been any breaks in the insurance and when.
- Date of any claims made and a description of what they were made for – liability, fully comprehensive, fire, theft etc.
To top it all, this document has to be provided by the insurance company itself (not your broker) and it has to be an original – no faxes or e-mails.
If you are coming over as a couple it makes sense for both partners to do the above, just in case you decide you would like a second car at some stage.
Household Contents Insurance
This covers your property against risks that include damage from fire, storm, hail, break-ins as well as damage caused by leaking mains water and, in some policies, flooding or avalanches etc.
One way to assess the value to be insured is based on an estimated value per square meter, which is commonly 650 Euros. The insurance company agrees that for evaluations made on this basis they will not make a deduction for under-insurance in the event of a claim.
However, assuming that your new apartment is 150 square meters this would result in an insurance sum of 97,500€. If you are just setting up home this could be much too high.
If you are shipping your furniture you will be asked to value your property and this together with items you buy once you arrive could, at least initially, be a more realistic sum to insure. Keep your eye on developments though as your property accumulates!
If you have to make a claim because of, for example a fire, it will be helpful if you can supply receipts at least for the more valuable items. So this is something else to bring with you when you come to Germany.