Insurance in Germany
September 13, 2010 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Need advice on choosing private health insurance in Germany.

I'm an American moving to Berlin for at least three months, and there's a good chance I will wind up applying for a visa and staying longer.

1. Where can I buy health insurance while I'm there? What are my options in terms of coverage levels, and roughly how much should I expect to pay? I'm a healthy 28-year-old male with no preexisting conditions. I saw one company, DKV, mentioned in a previous AskMeFi question, but the "English" link on their website doesn't seem to work, and I can't work out how to find quotes or sign up.

2. My googling so far turns up different products for people staying more/less than six months, a year, etc. Ideally I would like to get something on a month-to-month basis that I can just keep paying for indefinitely if I stay. Is this possible?

3. Do I also need this "third party liability insurance" or anything else mentioned here?

I won't be working there so I can't just let my company handle it. I will be taking a full-time German course at the Goethe-Institut for 8 weeks (does this qualify me for student insurance rates?) and if I stay longer I'll probably apply to grad school there.

Thanks in advance for any info and/or advice...
posted by pete_22 to Travel & Transportation around Germany (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Health insurance: sorry, can't recommend any specific provider - have you checked the toytown forums? (Toytown Berlin) I'm sure somebody could answer your question(s) there. If that doesn't work, I think it would be best if you could go to an insurance office and talk to actual people. Doing this online is probably going to be difficult if you don't speak German well. There are student rates in private health insurance. I don't know whether you'd really "count" as a student, though. I'd definitely ask the Goethe-Institut guys what your health insurance options are!

Other insurance: You're not going to need a Hausratversicherung or a Rechtsschutzversicherung. Definitely get a "Haftpflicht", though. If I were you, I'd just sign up for the Privathaftpflicht at HUK24 (that's what we have and it's really easy to set up online). You could probably also find something that's a tiny bit cheaper, but I'd just pay the 30€ per year and be done with it. HUK has a good reputation AFAIK.
If you want to travel outside of Germany during your time there, you might want to get a Reisekrankenversicherung - ask your private health insurance company, it's usually really really cheap - something like 10€ a year, if I remember correctly.
posted by The Toad at 2:07 PM on September 13, 2010

I am not to firm on the subject of private health insurance, since I use the quite nice public insurance. If you are gainfully employed during your stay, you will be in the public system automatically. You just have to pick an insurer. Your employer can help you with this.
You can only be exclusively privately insured if you are self employed or meet certain other conditions. But even if you are self emplyed or "a gentleman of independent means", you can join a public insurer.
You definetivley need help navigating the system. Heck, even the Germans are not too sure about all the details.
I would go and ask other expats. A quick google brought up this quite helpful page on Toytown.
On preview, I was beaten by the Toad. Private liability insurance is cheap and useful, The Toad's HUK24 is a good choice. But again, you have to ask somebody who has been in your situation. Most insurance is quite specific to Germany and Information is hard to come by in English.
posted by mmkhd at 2:20 PM on September 13, 2010

Best answer: Here in Kiel, I use MAWISTA for private health insurance. It does let you go month to month. Why did I chose this one? All of my other expat coworkers also have it, and our German coworkers have confirmed that they all are pretty much the same anyway.

I believe the MAWISTA website is in English, but the insurance contract is in German.
posted by Peter Petridish at 2:34 PM on September 13, 2010

Best answer: 1) Care Concept is fine. (Probably there are other options too.) Health insurance will run you about 25-50 euro a month, depending on the option you choose. The info's on the website. I believe foreign travel is covered as well. Yes, you qualify for student insurance.

2) If you apply for a visa, the Ausländerbehörde will want to see evidence of health insurance for the entire visa period, as a condition of getting the visa. But you can always cancel later. Not sure about month-to-month options anyway.

3) A British guy told me a horror story about getting hit by a car and then being liable for thousands in auto repairs. Or something like that. The moral of the story is that if he'd had liability insurance, the repairs would have been covered. It's really cheap, anyway. Care Concept has that also, I think.

FYI, the Volkshochschule is almost certainly cheaper than the Goethe-Institut for language courses.
posted by the_blizz at 2:35 PM on September 13, 2010

My next New Year's resolution will be that I finish reading every AskMe Question :-(
The people at the Goethe-Institut might help you with your health insurance question and if you already know which grad school you might be applying for, they will defenitively help you, since they have to deal with it often.
posted by mmkhd at 2:48 PM on September 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the very useful links. Dumb follow-up question: why is it only 25-50 eur per month? Here in the US (I live in NYC) it would be $500+. (Although probably cheaper for college & grad students).

I'm not trying to start a political conversation about health care policy :) -- just worried that this doesn't cover everything I think it covers. Are these more akin to catastrophic policies in the US or are they really the same as normal comprehensive insurance here?

BTW I did see that Toytown page, but it doesn't seem to cover my situation.
posted by pete_22 at 3:25 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ah, right, why is it cheaper.

First, because it's Germany. In my thankfully limited experience, health care is cheaper, even without insurance. Example: I thought I'd come down with something, so I went to the doctor, who ran a test. I think the appointment + lab work + prescription totaled 75 euro (which was reimbursed).

Second, because yes, it's not quite a comprehensive policy. But it's much more than catastrophic coverage. Basically, checkups aren't covered, but if you get sick or hurt, you can go to the doctor (or dentist!!). There's a plan summary somewhere on that website.
posted by the_blizz at 3:50 PM on September 13, 2010

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