For expats driving in Germany, having a car insurance policy that can adjust to their needs is really important. Germany's traffic rules and conditions are quite complex, so it's essential to have insurance that can handle different situations and risks that drivers might face.
Driving in Germany can be a great way to explore the country, but you will need to have some form of car insurance before you hit the road. Car insurance is mandatory for all drivers in Germany, and you cannot register a vehicle without it. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about car insurance in Germany.
In This Guide
The Basics of Car Insurance in Germany
Car insurance in Germany is regulated by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, or BaFin). There are three main types of car insurance providers in Germany:
Direct insurers: These are online-based insurers that offer low-cost and convenient services. However, they might have limited customer support and personalisation options.
Traditional insurers: These are established insurers that have physical branches and agents. They offer more comprehensive and customised services, but they might charge higher premiums and fees.
Independent brokers: These are intermediaries that work with multiple insurers and offer impartial advice and assistance. They can help you find the best deal and handle the paperwork for you, but they might charge a commission or a fee.
Car insurance in Germany is based on a bonus-malus system, which means that your premium will depend on your driving record and experience. The more years you drive without any claims or accidents, the lower your premium will be. This is called a no-claims bonus (Schadenfreiheitsrabatt, or SFR). Conversely, if you cause any damage or injury to others, your premium will increase. This is called a malus (Rückstufung).
Car insurance in Germany is also linked to your car registration (Zulassung). You need to have a valid car insurance policy before you can register your car in Germany. You also need to inform your insurer if you change or sell your car, or if you move to another address.
Types of Car Insurance in Germany
There are three main types of car insurance in Germany that you can choose from:
Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung): This is the minimum and mandatory coverage that covers the damage or injury you cause to others with your car. It does not cover any damage to your own car or yourself. The legal minimum coverage is €7.5 million for personal injury, €1.12 million for property damage, and €50,000 for financial loss.
Partial coverage (Teilkaskoversicherung): This is an optional coverage that covers the damage to your own car caused by theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters, animals, or glass breakage. It does not cover any damage caused by collision or vandalism by yourself or others.
Comprehensive coverage (Vollkaskoversicherung): This is an optional coverage that covers the damage to your own car caused by collision or vandalism by yourself or others. It also includes partial coverage.
You can also add additional coverage to your car insurance policy, such as:
Personal injury protection (Insassenunfallversicherung): This covers the medical expenses and compensation for yourself and your passengers in case of an accident.
Legal expenses protection (Rechtsschutzversicherung): This covers the legal fees and costs if you are involved in a dispute or lawsuit related to your car.
Breakdown assistance (Schutzbrief): This covers the roadside assistance and towing services if your car breaks down or has an accident.
Rental car (Mietwagen): This covers the cost of renting a car if your car is damaged or stolen.
The Costs and Discounts of Car Insurance in Germany
The cost of car insurance in Germany depends on various factors, such as:
Your driving history and experience: Some insurers offer lower premiums for drivers who have a clean record, a no-claims bonus, or a long driving experience. You can also get discounts for taking a defensive driving course or having a dashcam installed in your car.
Your car model and value: The type, age, and value of your car will affect the cost and level of coverage you need. For example, if you have a new or expensive car, you might want to get comprehensive insurance to protect it from theft, vandalism, or damage. On the other hand, if you have an old or cheap car, you might be fine with just liability insurance.
Your location and usage: Where you live and how often you use your car will also influence your car insurance premium. For instance, if you live in a big city or a high-risk area, you might pay more than if you live in a rural or low-risk area. Similarly, if you drive frequently or long distances, you might pay more than if you drive occasionally or short distances.
Your personal preferences and needs: Finally, you should choose a car insurance policy that suits your personal preferences and needs. For example, you might want to get additional coverage for personal injury, legal expenses, breakdown assistance, or rental car. You might also want to look for an insurer that offers good customer service, online access, flexible payment options, or English-speaking staff.
The average cost of car insurance in Germany is around €300 per year for liability insurance, €500 per year for partial coverage, and €900 per year for comprehensive coverage. However, these are only rough estimates, and the actual cost can vary significantly depending on the factors mentioned above.
To save money on car insurance in Germany, you can also look for discounts and special offers from different insurers. Some of the common discounts are:
Annual payment: If you pay your premium in one lump sum instead of monthly instalments, you can save up to 10%.
Low mileage: If you drive less than 10,000 km per year, you can save up to 30%.
Garage parking: If you park your car in a garage or a secure place, you can save up to 20%.
Eco-friendly car: If you drive a car that has low emissions or uses alternative fuels, you can save up to 15%.
Family policy: If you have more than one car or driver in your household, you can save up to 10%.
The Steps to Apply for and Cancel Car Insurance in Germany
To apply for car insurance in Germany, you need to provide some information and documents to your chosen insurer, such as:
Your personal details: name, address, date of birth, nationality, occupation, etc.
Your driving license: number, date of issue, country of issue, etc.
Your car details: make, model, year of manufacture, registration number, value, etc.
Your previous insurance details: insurer name, policy number, no-claims bonus, etc.
You can apply for car insurance online, by phone, by mail, or in person. You will receive a confirmation and a contract from your insurer once your application is approved. You will also receive an electronic insurance certificate (eVB-Nummer) that you need to register your car in Germany.
To cancel car insurance in Germany, you need to follow some rules and procedures:
You can cancel your car insurance at the end of the contract period (usually one year) by giving one month’s notice before the expiration date. You need to send a written cancellation letter (Kündigungsschreiben) to your insurer by mail or email.
You can also cancel your car insurance before the end of the contract period if you have a valid reason, such as selling or scrapping your car, moving abroad, changing your car model or usage, or finding a cheaper offer. You need to send a written cancellation letter with proof of your reason to your insurer by mail or email.
You can also cancel your car insurance within 14 days of signing the contract without giving any reason. This is called the cooling-off period (Widerrufsrecht). You need to send a written cancellation letter to your insurer by mail or email.
Your eVB Number (Elektronische Versicherungsbestätigung)
Before you can register your car in Germany, you will need to get an eVB number from your insurance company. This is a seven-digit code that proves that you have valid third-party liability insurance for your vehicle. You can request your eVB number online, by phone or by email from your insurer. They will send it to you by mail, email or SMS. You will need to provide this number to the registration office when you register your car.
The eVB number is valid for a limited period of time, usually between three and six months. You can only use it once, and it will expire if you do not use it within the validity period. If you need a new eVB number, you will have to request it again from your insurer.
The Best Ways to Compare and Choose Car Insurance in Germany
To find the best car insurance in Germany for you, you can use online comparison platforms like Check24, Tarifcheck. These platforms allow you to compare different offers from various insurers based on your personal details and preferences. You can also read reviews from other customers and get quotes from multiple insurers.
Alternatively, you can consult an independent broker or agent who can advise you on the best options for your situation and help you with the application process. You can find brokers and agents online or through recommendations from friends or colleagues.
You should compare and choose car insurance in Germany based on the following criteria:
The price: You should look for the best value for money and not just the cheapest offer. You should also consider the deductible (Selbstbeteiligung), which is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the insurer covers the rest of the claim.
The coverage: You should look for the level and type of coverage that meets your needs and expectations. You should also check the exclusions and limitations of each policy.
The service: You should look for an insurer that offers good customer service, online access, flexible payment options, English-speaking staff, etc.
You should also read the terms and conditions (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen) of each policy carefully before signing it. You should also check the cancellation policy and the claim process of each insurer.
Adding an additional driver to your car insurance in Germany
If you want to let someone else drive your car occasionally, you might need to add them as an additional driver (Zusatzfahrer) to your car insurance policy. This will ensure that they are covered by your insurance in case of an accident or damage. However, adding an additional driver might also affect the cost and conditions of your car insurance.
The rules and requirements for adding an additional driver vary depending on the insurer and the type of coverage you have. Some insurers allow you to add an additional driver for free, while others charge a fee or increase your premium. Some insurers also limit the number of additional drivers you can add, or the age and driving experience of the additional drivers.
Generally, you need to inform your insurer about the details of the additional driver, such as their name, date of birth, driving license number, and driving history. You also need to specify how often and for how long they will drive your car. You can usually add an additional driver online, by phone, by mail, or in person.
If you want to add an additional driver temporarily, for example, if you have a visitor or a friend who wants to borrow your car for a short period, you might not need to inform your insurer. Some insurers allow occasional drivers without any extra charge or notification, as long as they have a valid driving license and permission from you. However, this depends on the insurer and the policy, so you should always check with your insurer before letting someone else drive your car.
If you want to add an additional driver permanently, for example, if you have a spouse or a child who shares your car regularly, you might need to pay more for your car insurance. This is because adding an additional driver increases the risk of accidents and claims. However, some insurers offer discounts or special offers for family members or spouses who drive the same car. For instance, some insurers do not charge extra to cover your spouse as a driver.
Adding an additional driver to your car insurance in Germany can have advantages and disadvantages. It can give you more flexibility and convenience when sharing your car with others, but it can also increase your insurance costs and responsibilities. Therefore, you should always compare different offers and conditions from different insurers before adding an additional driver to your car insurance policy.
What to Do If You Have a Foreign Driving License
If you have a foreign driving license, you may be able to use it in Germany for a limited period of time, depending on your country of origin. However, if you are a long-term resident in Germany, you will need to have German car insurance, even if you brought your car from abroad. Foreign car insurance does not suffice.
You may also need to exchange your foreign driving license for a German one, depending on the country that issued it. Some countries have reciprocal agreements with Germany that allow you to exchange your license without taking any tests. Other countries require you to take either the practical or theoretical driving test in Germany.
If you need to take a driving test in Germany, you will need to register with a driving school (Fahrschule) and complete some mandatory lessons and courses. You will also need to pass an eye test and a first aid course. The driving test consists of two parts: a theory test and a practical test.
Some Frequently asked questions about car insurance in Germany
What is the mandatory car insurance requirement for drivers in Germany?
Germany requires all drivers to have liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) to cover damages caused to third parties.