Home Haftpflicht Global Liability Insurance
Woman reading a paper

Liability insurance in Germany

Simple explanations for German law

According to regulations in Germany, private individuals are (obliged to be responsible) responsible for any kind of damage they cause within private situations. Unfortunately, certain accidents lead to excessive costs, which you could not cope with your private assets or, if so, only with many years of liabilities. Based on these circumstances, it is common in Germany to arrange a personal liability insurance. Within the following article, we will explain, why you need a third-party liability insurance, when you are living in Germany. Furthermore, you will find out, when a private liability insurance will be applicable, who is included within this insurance coverage, and which circumstance are partially included or not covered at all within this policy.

Why do you need a third-party liability insurance in Germany?

When you move to Germany with the intention of living here for a longer period of time, it is important to arrange a proper and complete insurance umbrella from the very beginning. According to German justice, citizens must compensate for self-inflicted damages. This law is stated in section 823 of the German Civil Code: 

‘A person who, intentionally or negligently, unlawfully injures the life, limb, health, freedom, property or some other right of another person is liable to provide compensation to the other party for the damage arising therefrom.’ (Quote: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_bgb/englisch_bgb.html#p4209)

If you are responsible for an accident within Germany, the victim has the right to sue you. Should the compliant win, you will have to pay the resulting reparations. Depending on the severity of the damage, these costs could lead to bankruptcy. To ensure that you are financially covered in such a case, it is recommended to purchase a personal liability insurance in Germany.

What does a personal liability insurance cover?

Apart from the reasons for a third-party liability insurance, it is important for you to understand, in case of which damages the liability insurance will come into account. Generally, the German liability insurance policy classifies three different kinds of damage:

  • Damages towards another person’s property (German: ‘Sachschäden’)
  • Damages towards another person’s limb, health, or life (German: ‘Personenschäden’)
  • Damages towards another person’s assets (German: ‘Vermögensschäden’)

1. You accidentally ruin someone else’s property

Within this category, you can include all unintentional damages brought to other people’s property. This applies to the following examples:

  • You accidentally spill a bottle of water onto your neighbor’s Laptop.
  • You’re on the go with your bicycle and accidentally scratch a car.
  • You are at your weekly practice, kick or throw a ball to one of your teammates and break their glasses by accident. 

2. You accidentally injure someone else

Included in this category are all damages you accidentally perform on another person’s body, meaning health, limb, or life. This rule refers to the following or similar circumstances:

  • While riding your bike, you accidentally crash into a pedestrian and the person falls and breaks his arm.
  • You accidentally knock a vase from the windowsill of your apartment onto the street, injuring a passerby.

3. You accidentally damage the assets of someone else

Within this category, all kinds of damages are enclosed, which do not apply to injuries or property. This special regulation relates to the following scenarios:

In all these or similar cases, you can contact your personal liability insurance. In this case, the insurer checks the liability. If this is the case, the damage will be settled by the insurance company. If there is no liability, the insurer refuses to settle the claim and may also do so in court (passive legal protection).

Ensure a high level of coverage

Depending on whatever accidental damage you are confronted with – the insurance coverage amount should be high enough to cover all the debts. Especially if you are affected with an injury of another person, the coverage amount must pay for possible costs for the ambulance, hospitalization, rehabilitation measures, remodeling measures in the house of the damaged party. 

Further cases: Which features are offered optionally?

Apart from the three cases above, there are some special further circumstances you should know about and include, when you are choosing a private liability insurance in when living in Germany. There are some insurance companies, who cover these scenarios, and some which don’t.

  • Lost keys: This occurs, if you lose the keys to your rental home, your workplace, a club house, or any other institution. The German insurance contract lists this as ‘Schlüsselverlust’. The replacement of an entire installation of locks and keys can be very expensive. A liability insurance, which includes a coverage for lost keys, will pay for involved costs.
  • Damage of equipment you borrow from someone else: Within the German liability insurance policies, this situation is called ‘Schäden für geliehene Sachen’. This means, if you borrow or rent something from a third party and the object breaks during your usage, you can contact your third-party liability insurance to cover the costs. 
  • Damage you cause while helping someone else: When you are going through German liability insurance contracts, this predicament is referred to as ‘Gefälligkeitsschäden’. For instance: If you are helping a friend during his or her move, and you accidentally damage the new apartment or break a piece of furniture, an extensive third-party liability insurance will cover the repair costs. 
  • Damage caused by victim’s lack of insurance: Imagine yourself dealing with a damage caused by another citizen, but the guilty person cannot cover the costs or, eve, worse, does not have a private liability insurance. Who will pay for the resulting costs in this case? Some German liability insurances include a cost reimbursement for citizens who do not have liability insurance. In this circumstance, your own third-party liability insurance will cover the costs, even though you are the victim. When you are choosing a personal liability insurance, look out for the German Term ‘Forderungsausfall’.

The third-party liability insurance is not mandatory

If you have come to asking yourself, if the personal liability insurance is mandatory, the short answer is ‘No’. You are not obligated to have a private liability insurance. But if one of the featured circumstances occurs and you are forced to cover the costs, you will greatly appreciate this insurance.

Who is included within the public liability insurance?

When you are planning on signing a contract with an insurance company in Germany, you want to know, who will profit from the third-party liability benefits. The insurance services apply to the following individuals:

  • The insurance applies to you, since you are the direct insurance holder.
  • To your spouse or if you’re living as an unmarried couple in the same household. 
  • Your unmarried, underage children, as long as they are in school and university and are not working a full time job.

How much does a private liability insurance cost?

Even though a public liability insurance is not mandatory, it is nevertheless highly required to have one, when you are living in Germany. The good news is that this insurance is one which is reasonably low-priced. Popular and well-established insurance companies such as AXA offer affordable third-party liability insurances at low premiums. You can profit from the following conditions:

  • Arrange an insurance coverage for damages and injuries up to 60 million Euro, but at least 5 million Euro.
  • The costs vary depending on your deductible, the coverage amount, and the additional services you include. 
  • An annual payment is usually cheaper than a monthly contribution. 

Take a look and find out more about the different insurance-variations of the third-party liability insurance of AXA. When you decide on a private liability insurance, you will furthermore profit with the following benefits.
When you decide on a private liability insurance, you will furthermore profit with the following benefits.

  • You can flexibly adjust policies and benefits to your current life situation.
  • You can conveniently manage your contracts online.
  • You will profit from a worldwide insurance coverage, not only in Germany.
  • Estimate your insurance cost with the AXA online calculator in 2 Minutes.

Which predicaments are NOT covered by a private liability insurance?

Apart from the mandatory benefits such as optional features, there are also situations, in which the third-party liability insurance will most definitely not cover you:

  • You are involved in damages or injuries caused with your car: If you are driving your car and you have damaged someone’s car or injured someone, the public liability insurance will not cover the costs. In this case, you need a particular third-party car insurance ‘Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung’.
  • You may have caused damage to your own property. In this case, you will need a household insurance, or in German ‘Hausratversicherung’.
  • You have accidentally damaged something or someone during your professional working hours or in relation to a professional errand. For such a scenario you will need a professional liability insurance, which is called a ‘Betriebshaftpflichtversicherung’ in German.
  • Damages or injuries are caused by your pets, in many cases dogs. If such a case arises, you will need a dog or animal liability insurance. German companies list this insurance as a ‘Tierhalterhaftpflichtversicherung’.
  • You are involved in a legal dispute. When you are confronted with a circumstance, which is related to a jurisdictional topic and not directly with the damage of an object or the injury of a person, the third-party liability insurance is not responsible. A separate legal insurance will come in use for this matter. If you want this kind of support, look out for a German ‘Rechtsschutzversicherung’.

If one of the above cases occurs to you, you do net even need to contact your insurance company for private liability support.

Legal Notice

The article contents are provided to you by AXA as non-binding service information. This information does not claim to be complete or valid. Please note our terms of use.