How can you find the best health insurance advice in Germany?
When it comes to taking out health insurance, most people opt for the easiest route: a quick Google search and then practically a random pick. But this isn’t exactly the best or most cost-effective way. Mirja Lundehn from KLforExpats explains why you should consider working with an independent broker.
We all know that finding the best and most cost-effective health insurance in Germany can be a difficult and confusing maze of information. If you’re new to the country or don’t speak a lot of German, it can be an even greater challenge!
So, when it comes to finding the best health insurance for your needs and your budget, where should you look and what kind of platforms and services are the most cost-effective and trustworthy? Is it possible to find the best coverage yourself? Would going directly to the top providers be helpful? What is the difference between an independent broker and an insurance agent and why is seeking the support of an experienced independent broker perhaps your best bet?
When looking for a health insurance package, most people will turn to one of the following sources of information:
- Search engines
- Price comparison sites
- Health insurance providers
- Independent health insurance brokers
In this article, we explore the pros and cons of each of these different methods and explain what you need to be aware of when using them.
Taking the time to do your own research via the internet is a great way to get a feel of the different health insurance options out there. You might even be able to use expat sites and forums to learn about the experiences of other people in a similar situation to you.
However, it can sometimes be hard to understand the complexity and varying details of different health insurance plans, and to spot any nasty (and potentially expensive!) surprises you may have missed in the fine print. It’s also worth considering that what’s written on the internet isn’t necessarily always fact-checked or up-to-date, so you should focus your research on reputable sites and cross-reference any information to make sure it’s reliable.
Online price comparison portals
Price comparison websites like Check24 work by simply scanning the internet for information and generating health insurance quotes based on the details you’ve plugged into the system, such as your profession and income.
These platforms can be great to get an initial understanding of what’s out there and which companies tend to charge cheaper and higher rates but, because they don’t offer personalised services, and don’t take into account your specific needs - since the search results are only based on generic information - you might not get the most comprehensive coverage at the best price.
Health insurance providers
You also have the option of going directly to the health insurance companies themselves. This can be the best way of finding out exactly what the company offers for your personal situation, and at what price.
However, among the 40+ providers available, not all insure expats and internationals. Of those that do, many don’t communicate or offer customer service in English, which makes it tricky if your German is still not super fluent. On top of this, speaking directly to health insurance providers or an agent who is tied to one company means you might not receive neutral and unbiased advice, given that each provider will be looking to sell its own products.
Independent health insurance brokers
Brokers, on the other hand, work with you directly to understand your needs and advise you on the best options for your unique situation, lifestyle and plans for the future. Rather than being tied to one health insurance company, brokers compare different health insurance policies from multiple different providers to give you unbiased advice tailored to your situation. Best of all, seeking the advice of a broker is completely free.
While brokers get paid by health insurance providers, and not the consumer, an ethical broker will still offer fair advice since they aren’t tied to one specific provider. A reputable and independent broker will usually work with at least 10 or more providers to ensure you get access to various options that suit your needs. The bottom line? Agents work for providers, but brokers pick the best plan in the interests of the consumer.
An English-speaking broker can negotiate terms on your behalf if you don’t speak German. They’ll also give you ongoing support should you need to adjust or optimise your health insurance plan if your circumstances change or you have a problem with your provider.
In the long run, this will give you peace of mind and save you time and money. You don’t want to choose a plan that might cost you hundreds more in premiums each month!
The bottom line
Ultimately, the best approach to finding the best health insurance is a mixture of the above - by all means, do some research of your own and have some possible providers in mind, but consulting with an independent broker means you benefit from a second pair of eyes - and some expert advice - when you make your final decision.
Just remember to make sure you’re speaking to an actual independent broker or advisor and not a health insurance agent, who are usually tied to just one or two health insurance companies and don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.
If you’d like to learn more about working with a broker, get in touch with KLforExpats. With 25 years of experience in the industry, KLforExpats offer a friendly, English-speaking service that is completely free of charge. Whether you’re new to Germany, looking to relocate, want to switch providers or simply have questions about your health insurance, they can help!