Important German Insurances
One thing you need to take care of from the start are German insurances. Many people come to Berlin as tourists and end up staying here as residents, because they like the easygoing lifestyle so much. But be aware that, as easy as life might seem in Berlin as a tourist, when you live here you need to get some things straight, and one of them is that you definitely will need German insurance. And by German insurance, I mean a lot of them.
Even though Berlin is an international hub, you need to do your research in order to understand which insurances are for what, and how to even pronounce them. Unfortunately, many insurance companies don’t cater for the internationals here, so I will try to explain the most important insurances as clearly as possible.
An absolute must have in Berlin will be the liability insurance. Imagine that you’ve been partying for two days in a row and then you accidentally destroy your friend’s new Iphone by dropping it on the floor. Yes, that would be unpleasant, not to mention extremely expensive to fix. So don’t go cheap on the liability insurance; it usually costs around 50€ a year and you can even include your partner and your pet in it.
If you own a car in Germany, you also definitely need a KFZ Haftpflicht. If you ever get into an accident that was your fault, your KFZ Haftpflicht will cover the costs of the other party.
Depending on wether you are unemployed, employed, or freelance, there are many rules to determine whether you are legally obliged to have a Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, if you can choose a Private Health Insurance, or if you don’t even need to have one at all (which I would not recommend under any circumstance).
The most common case is that you work for a company and therefore you need to sign up with one of the many Gesetzlichen Krankenversicherungen. Your employee will cover half of the monthly costs, while you have to pay for the other half. The cost of this insurance ranges from around 150 – 600 Euros a month, depending on how much you earn. The most common Gesetzliche Krankenversicherungen are TK, Barmer or AOK.
If you are working as a freelancer, then you can choose not to be insured at all (again: don’t do it) or sign up with a Private Krankenversicherung. The upside of a private health insurance is that you get special treatment by any doctor (they earn more money treating private patients) and they cover more treatments than Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung. The downside is that usually a private health insurance comes in more expensive as you need to pay the full amount – there is no employer who covers half of the monthly costs.
When visiting Berlin as a tourist, it is enough to have a foreign health insurance card that also covers Germany. If you plan to stay for good, however, you need to get your proper German Krankenversicherung. But more on this one later. You might still need a foreign health insurance card by a German insurance company, in case you travel abroad and need medical assistance, especially if something more dramatic happens and you need to be transported back to Germany. In this case, the bills could pile up to a small fortune. So be smart here as well and invest those few bucks on an insurance that is valid normally for 365 days.
Other important German insurances
While the insurances mentioned above are absolutely a must have when living in Berlin, there might be some other insurances that could be of interest for you. Just to name a few and what they are useful for:
Rechtsschutzversicherung – Legal expenses insurance:
If you ever have to sue somebody or you are being sued by someone then this insurance comes in handy. Legal bills can easily sum up several thousands of Euros and if you lose in front of court you are stuck with the costs. Better have a Rechtsschutzversicherung which covers your expenses no matter what.
Unfallversicherung – Accident insurance:
If you ever get insured so badly and you can’t work anymore or not to the extent that you used to work your Unfallversicherung got this covered. Especially if you have a family a very important insurance.
Private Zusatzversicherung – Private supplementary insurance:
Are you signed up by law with a Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung but you would like the extra treatments that privately insured people get? Then this is the insurance you should ask for. Covers many aspects including private rooms in hospitals or treatment by the chief of practice rather than a new doctor.
These are the basic insurances that everybody who lives in Berlin/Germany should have. Furthermore, you can be insured against almost everything you can imagine, but it is not really necessary. The only thing you should consider is to save up some money in a private pensions insurance. You never know how much money you will get back from the state pension, as – you might already know this – Germany does not have the perfect age demographic.