Taking Out Car Insurance


No one can ignore this insurance: a car travelling in Germany must at least have liability insurance. The protection can be extended with partial or fully comprehensive insurance. But how much insurance is necessary? What are the risks that need to be covered?

Germany’s motorists like to change. At the end of 2016, 2.2 million customers turned their backs on their insurance and switched to another insurance company. Five years before that, the figure was 1.4 million. “We are seeing intense competition in motor vehicle insurance,” says Peter Grieble, insurance expert at Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Württemberg. A change could definitely pay off. But the cheapest premium is not necessarily the cheapest: “The decisive factor is the overall package of price and above all performance,” emphasizes Grieble. If you only pay attention to the premium, you run the risk of not covering your risks sufficiently.

High coverage in the hapft obligation

Very important: the largest possible sum insured in terms of liability. This insurance covers the accident if a driver is responsible for an accident and causes damage to others. This can be very expensive, for example if an injured person has to be paid a pension for the rest of his life. If the damage exceeds the insured sum, the person causing the accident is personally liable. The statutory minimum sum insured is 7.5 million euros for personal injury, 1.12 million euros for property damage and 50,000 euros for financial losses.

However, insurance experts advise topping up to the maximum amount of 100 million euros in order to be covered for all cases. “The difference in the premium is not very big,” says Peter Grieble. And it’s also interesting for liability insurance: In which other countries does it apply (mostly in Europe and other regions politically belonging to the EU) and does it include a liability extension, the so-called “Mallorca policy”, if you cause an accident abroad with the rental car?

No legal requirements for partial or fully comprehensive cover

The insurance comparison becomes more complicated with the comprehensive insurance, i.e. the partial and fully comprehensive insurance. In contrast to liability insurance, there are no legal requirements here. Companies are free to design their contracts as they wish. The number of tariffs and special options is correspondingly confusing. However, it is particularly worth taking a close look at some points:

In any case, the insurance should include the “waiver of objection to gross negligence”, advises insurance expert Grieble. The insurance company thus pays off the damage in full, even if, for example, you drove a red car due to carelessness or ignored a stop sign. If this option is missing, the insurance company can reclaim part of the money from the insured.

For new car owners, the replacement value compensation is an important factor in an insurance comparison: the longer the new price is paid in the event of theft or total loss, the better. The offers range from three to 24 months.

Insurance discounts

Many insurers offer a discount if a certain annual mileage is not exceeded, the car is parked in the garage at night, only a single driver is on the road with the vehicle or damage is only repaired in certain workshops. “Insurance customers should only enter into workshop commitments if they really want and are able to adhere to them,” says Peter Grieble.

Especially important for drivers with many accident-free years: Is the new insurance granting the no-claims bonus the same? “Let the previous provider confirm in writing which no-claims bonus class (SF class) he will notify the new provider of,” advises Michael Wortberg, insurance expert at the Consumer Centre Rhineland-Palatinate. Even the so-called discount saver, which prevents the downgrading after an accident but is only available in old contracts, can be worth cash and should therefore not be given up prematurely.

Comparison calculators on the Internet can make the search for the right car insurance easier, “but you shouldn’t just rely on a portal,” says Peter Grieble. Because none of the providers has all the insurance companies with all their rates in the database (here you can find the comprehensive motor insurance comparison on Süddeutsche.de). It is all the more important to first think about your insurance needs and then search for the best tariff.

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