Home insurance in Germany

Home insurance in Germany

Whether you’re renting or own your own home in Germany, having home insurance gives you protection in unfortunate situations like house fires, extreme weather, theft and burglaries. 

Home insurance comparison

Looking to compare home insurance providers, or wanting to get a home insurance quote? There are multiple companies that offer home insurance in Germany, and some are even tailored to expats, including: 

  • Feather (registration and onboarding provided in English on behalf of Barmenia)
  • GetSafe (expat-focused insurance, 100% in English, with a simple-to-use mobile app)

You can use a comparison site to compare home insurance quotes and find the best match for you. 

How to choose the best house insurance in Germany

There are lots of different home insurance providers in Germany, so it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Make sure you do your research to find what insurance you need and suits your situation best. Some questions you might consider:

  • What is included in your policy? What is excluded?
  • Are there combined policies you can take advantage of?
  • Is it easy to submit a claim?
  • What’s the cancellation procedure like?
  • Is customer service provided in English?

Home insurance in Germany

Home insurance is a type of private insurance in Germany. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of home insurance in Germany:

  • Buildings insurance (Wohngebäudeversicherung)
  • Home contents insurance (Hausratversicherung)
  • Homeowners’ liability insurance (Haftpflicht für Hausbesitzer)

Although there may be some overlap between policies, generally these different types of insurance cover different circumstances that could arise for homeowners or renters. Therefore people might take out just one, two or all three types of policies simultaneously, depending on their personal requirements. Insurers often offer combined plans at discounted prices. 

Buildings insurance (Wohngebäudeversicherung)

Buildings insurance (Wohngebäudeversicherung) is sometimes also called residential building insurance or homeowners’ insurance in Germany. It covers damage caused to the property itself, including walls, roof, floors, ceilings, garages and sheds. In the event of damage, the entire building, including all permanently installed objects like fitted kitchens and bathrooms, is insured. 

What does property insurance cover?

Property insurance usually covers damage caused to permanent fixtures in the following circumstances: 

  • Fire
  • Lightning 
  • Storms and hail
  • Water damage

The house is insured to its value. If your house is completely destroyed, the insurance will cover the cost of building a new, similar house at today’s prices, including the architect, construction and planning costs. If the old house is not habitable, you will also usually get cover for the cost of renting alternative accommodation. 

What is not covered by home building insurance?

Building insurance doesn’t usually cover glass window panes and heating systems, but these can be purchased as policy add-ons. It will also not cover 100 percent of the cost of claims caused by negligence - for instance if a building fault was not repaired. Some policies also exclude payouts in the event of “extreme situations” like earthquakes, wars or terrorist attacks. 

Cost of buildings insurance in Germany

The cost of buildings insurance is based on a calculation of numerous factors, including:

  • Property type, age, size and condition
  • Materials the property is made from
  • Cost of a rebuild
  • Property location
  • Homeowner’s claims history

Policies start at somewhere between 100 and 300 euros per year, depending on the size of your home. 

Home contents insurance (Hausratversicherung)

While buildings insurance covers the fixed aspects of your house like the walls, roof, doors, fitted kitchens and bathrooms, home contents insurance covers all moveable items in your home, including carpets, furniture, clothing, electricals, valuable items like jewellery and even pets - the items you take with you when you are moving

What is covered by home content insurance in Germany?

Home content insurance covers damage to your belongings caused by:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Storm
  • Water damage
  • Burglary / theft

If your belongings are damaged or lost, you can make a claim and your insurance will pay out the cost of replacing the item. It doesn’t matter what you paid for the item originally, the claim will be enough to purchase an equivalent item at today’s prices. Your insurer might also pay out the cost of repairing the item. 

What is excluded from contents insurance?

Home contents insurance doesn’t cover your belongings for deliberate damage or wear and tear. It also does not apply in the following circumstances:

  • Accidental damage caused by guests or pets
  • Damage or loss outside the home

It is sometimes possible to purchase this kind of cover as an add-on to your policy. For instance, you can take out contents insurance that also includes your bicycle, items stored outside, or rented equipment. You can also include costs like cleaning or changing the locks in the event of a break-in. 

Contents insurance policies usually come with a maximum limit for cover, which can be adjusted according to the value of your possessions. For instance, if you own a very expensive bicycle or precious jewellery, you should ensure that your policy is sufficient to cover all your valuables. 

Contents used for business or professional purposes will need a different kind of policy, covered by business insurance. Your vehicle is not covered by contents insurance, either; you need car insurance for that. 

Cost of home contents insurance

The cost of home content insurance is calculated based on a number of factors, including:

  • The value of your property and belongings
  • The area where you live
  • Security measures in your home like alarm systems
  • Your claims history
  • The level of coverage you need

Basic policies start at as little as 2 euros per month, but beware that some might include a large deductible, meaning that if you make a claim you pay the first portion of the costs yourself, up to a predetermined limit. 

Homeowners’ liability insurance (Haftpflicht für Hausbesitzer)

In a country where the majority of people have personal liability insurance, many homeowners also choose to take out liability insurance. This is because you as a homeowner are personally responsible for any damage you or your property cause to others, even if accidental. 

As a homeowner, you can take out personal liability insurance (which covers you for incidents both inside and outside the home) or homeowners’ liability insurance, which only covers incidents that occur in your home. 

What is covered by homeowner insurance?

This kind of insurance protects you in cases where you are threatened with claims for damages, for instance if:

  • A visitor slips over on your freshly-washed floor and hurts themself
  • A passerby falls on black ice in front of your home
  • A wobbly window flower box comes loose and damages a parked car
  • A ceiling light falls down and injures a visitor

Since so many people in Germany have liability insurance, many would have no compunction about pressing for damages in such situations. Having homeowner liability insurance protects you against such claims.

Landlord insurance

If you own a home and let it out to others rather than using it yourself, you are required by law to take out homeowners’ liability insurance (also called landlord insurance), since you as the landowner would be liable for any claims resulting from third parties becoming harmed or their property being damaged. This applies to:

  • Owners of apartment buildings
  • Landlords of individual houses
  • Owners of vacant lots
  • Owners of family houses with so-called “granny flats” or basement flats

Cost of liability insurance

The cost of a liability insurance policy will depend on the extent of the coverage you’re taking out, and your claims history. Policies start from as little as a couple of euros per month. 

Home insurance add-ons

Your insurance company might also offer additional cover that can be purchased as add-ons to your policy:

Natural hazard insurance

With extreme weather events on the rise in Germany, many homeowners are now also opting to take out extended natural hazard insurance (Elementarschadenversicherung or Naturgefahrenversicherung). This type of insurance covers damage to buildings and / or property caused by extreme weather like:

  • Heavy rain or flooding
  • Snow
  • Avalanches and landslides
  • Subsidence
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic eruptions

Natural hazard insurance can be taken as an optional add-on to buildings or household contents insurance. 

Insurance for solar panels and oil tanks

Fires, lightning and hailstorms can wreak havoc on voltaic systems, while flooding can cause issues with oil tanks, if your home has one. In order to protect yourself from potential damage, you can choose to take out insurance for oil tanks and voltaic systems. This can be offered as an add-on to buildings insurance, or as a separate policy. 

Life insurance

Most people who buy a house in Germany have to finance it with a mortgage. In this situation, it’s important to think about what might happen to your family or partner in the event of your death. Would they be left with a monthly mortgage payment they would struggle to cover on their salary? To avoid leaving their family in debt, many people choose to take out a life insurance policy that would pay off the mortgage if they died. 

How to insure additional valuable items

If you have a lot of valuable items in your home, it’s advisable to insure them properly. Valuable items are, for example, antiques, jewellery, art, computers and musical instruments. It’s likely that your basic home insurance package will not cover these items fully, so you might need to purchase additional insurance to cover the full amount. 

Is home insurance compulsory in Germany?

Generally speaking, no, home insurance is not compulsory in Germany. However, depending on whether you are renting or buying, it may be required for some contracts. For instance, some landlords stipulate in their rental contracts that you must take out home contents insurance to let a furnished apartment. Your mortgage company might require you to take out buildings insurance before agreeing to your loan. 

Can you use house insurance from abroad in Germany?

As an EU country, Germany allows insurers based elsewhere in the European Union to sell their products here so long as they comply with EU legislation. There are a number of international companies operating in the German market. If you have a home insurance policy from abroad, you should be able to transfer it to Germany so long as the insurer is licensed to trade in Germany. 

However, the policy is unlikely to remain exactly the same, as it will need to be recalculated based on your new house and location. If in doubt, check with your insurer. 

How to make a home insurance claim

Your chosen insurer should give you detailed instructions on how to make an insurance claim. It’s a good idea to check what their process is like before taking out a policy. A few insurers in Germany now offer the possibility of making claims in English, which may be easier for you. 

To make a claim, you will need to give your insurance company details about what has been lost or damaged. You may also be required to provide proof such as receipts, invoices or photographs. If you have been burgled, it’s important to lodge a report with the police.

Make sure you check the small print in your contract about claim deadlines - sometimes insurers will only accept claims made within a certain time frame after an incident taking place. 

Once you have filed a claim, your insurer will investigate, based on the information you provided, and then notify you of their decision. If you are due compensation, it will usually be transferred directly into your bank account.  

How to cancel your German home insurance

As with many other contracts in Germany, home insurance typically runs for 12 months. It is not usually possible to cancel your policy early without a specific reason (for instance if you’re changing address), but check your policy documents to see what the cancellation procedure is at your provider. 

To change provider, you will usually need to let your old insurer know in writing that you wish to cancel your contract three months before the end of the minimum contract period. Some insurers will handle the switchover for you, so all you need to do is take out a new policy and they will inform your previous insurer on your behalf. 

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