Liability insurance in Germany protects you in cases of unintentional harm to a person or their belongings. On this page, we look at what is covered by private liability insurance, explain why so many people in Germany have it, and how you can choose and switch insurance providers.
Third-party liability insurance companies in Germany
The following providers all offer third-party liability insurance in Germany in English:
- Getsafe (Expat-focused insurance, 100% in English & simple to use mobile app)
- Feather (registration and onboarding provided in English on behalf of Barmenia)
Personal liability insurance in Germany
Liability insurance is one of the most commonly-held types of private insurance in Germany. Unlike health insurance and car insurance, private liability insurance is not mandatory in Germany, but it may as well be, considering how many people choose to take out a policy.
This is because, in Germany, you are fully liable for any damages you cause to third parties, unintentional or not, with all your personal assets. And, because so many people have liability insurance, Germans will generally have no compunction about suing you for damages. To protect yourself against this financial risk, you can choose to take out insurance.
What is private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)?
Known in German as Haftpflichtversicherung, private liability insurance covers situations in which the insured person caused personal damage (Personenschäden), object damage (Sachschäden) or wealth damage (Vermögensschäden) to a third party. The insurance company would pay the costs incurred, saving the insured person from the risk of having to pay damages, or even risking personal bankruptcy.
Private liability insurance, personal liability insurance and third-party liability insurance are all terms used to describe the same thing: insurance that covers any property or personal damage you cause.
What kinds of situations are covered by personal liability insurance?
In a nutshell, personal liability insurance covers all kinds of situations where little mishaps could cause damage to people, belongings, or things. Imagine you accidentally hit a pedestrian while out on your bike, or drop and break a friend’s mobile phone, or lose control of your suitcase in front of a moving bus and cause an accident that injures several people, damages the bus, and prevents several people from getting to work.
In all of these cases, but especially the latter, personal liability insurance is really a must-have, since you would be personally liable for all of the damages caused. Accidents involving public transport can quickly rack up costs totalling hundreds of thousands of euros.
As well as standard cover, most insurance companies will also allow you take out optional extras to cover you in a variety of situations, such as:
- Losing your keys (personal or work)
- Damages caused by your pet
- Coverage abroad
- Insurance for legal services
- Accidents while using rented or borrowed vehicles
- If someone defaults on damages payments to you
What is not covered by personal liability insurance in Germany?
Some situations are not covered by personal liability insurance in Germany:
- Damages caused when out driving (this is covered by your car insurance instead)
- Damages to your home (this is covered by your home insurance)
- Situations where family members accidentally injure each other or themselves (this is covered by accident insurance)
- Damages related to working (this is covered by occupational accident insurance, part of social security)
- Certain sports or hobbies considered “extreme” or “risky”
Who is covered by your liability insurance policy?
Most personal liability insurance policies will cover the named insured person only. However, some companies do allow you to extend your policy to cover your household, including spouses and sometimes even housemates.
For children, the rules are a bit different. Minors under the age of seven cannot be held liable for their actions or damages, and even the parent cannot be held accountable. Between seven and 10 years there is a grey area in which children can sometimes be held liable. Between the ages of 10 and 18, children can be held liable for their actions, but responsibility falls onto the parent.
How much does it cost to get personal insurance in Germany?
Basic personal liability insurance starts at just a few euros a month, but can be tailored to suit your exact needs. The cost of your premium will depend on the amount of coverage you require, whether you’re single or married, whether you have children, and how high or low you set your deductible.
Switching insurance provider in Germany
All consumers in Germany are entitled to change their insurance provider every year, without having to pay a fee. In order to switch, you need to notify your current provider at least three months before the end of your contract.
You also have the right to terminate your contract immediately if your provider increases their prices without providing better coverage.
How to terminate your liability insurance contract
While some insurance providers in Germany are more flexible, others have more rigid contract terms and will only let you terminate once your initial contract term is complete. You then need to let them know of your intention to terminate at least three months in advance.
However, if you are leaving Germany permanently, you have a special termination right.
Homeowners' liability insurance
Many homeowners in Germany choose to take out homeowners' liability insurance (Haftpflicht für Hausbesitzer) as part of their home insurance. This is because as a homeowner you are personally responsible for any damage your property causes to others, even if accidental. Unlike personal liability insurance, which covers you for accidents at home and away from home, homeowners' liability insurance covers only incidents that occur in your home.