In Germany, car insurance (Kfz-Versicherung) is mandatory. It’s part of the cost of owning a car in Germany. If your vehicle is not insured, you can’t register it, and you can’t drive it. This guide shows you how to choose insurance for your car or motorcycle.
Types of vehicle insurance
There are three levels of vehicle insurance in Germany: Haftpflicht, Teilkasko and Vollkasko. Each level covers different things.
|Damage to others
If you cause an accident, and you cause damage to other people, vehicles or property.
|Theft and break-ins
If someone steals your car, or damages it while trying to steal it.
|Damage from fires and natural events If a fire, flood, hail storm or other natural event damages your vehicle.||✓||✓|
|Broken or cracked windows||✓||✓|
If you hit a wild animal while driving, or if an animal damages your vehicle.
If you cause an accident because of gross negligence. For example if you use your phone while driving, or if you run a red light.13
|Damage to your own vehicle in an accident
If the accident is your fault. For example, if you hit a lamp pole, or crash into another vehicle.
If another driver damages your vehicle, then runs away.
If someone vandalises your vehicle.
Liability (Haftpflicht) insurance only covers the minimum. It covers the damage to other people, vehicles and property. It does not cover damage to your own vehicle. It’s much cheaper than Teilkasko or Vollkasko,
For example, if you crash into another car, your insurance will pay to repair the other car. It will not pay to repair your car. If someone else crashes into your parked car, their insurance will pay for your repairs. If someone crashes into your car, then drives away, your insurance won’t pay for the repairs.
Haftpflicht insurance does not cover theft, vandalism, or damage from fires, storms or floods.14 It only covers the bare minimum, and that’s why it’s much cheaper.
Vehicle liability insurance (Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung) is not the same as private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). Private liability insurance does not cover you while you drive.
Teilkasko insurance makes sense if you want to pay as little insurance as possible.
Partially comprehensive (Teilkasko) also covers theft, fires and damage from natural catastrophes (earthquakes, floods, hail, etc).14 Usually, it does not cover vandalism.1 Each insurance policy is different. Some insurers let you choose what is covered.
Teilkasko is more expensive than Haftpflicht insurance, but cheaper than Vollkasko.
Teilkasko insurance makes more sense for older vehicles.15 For new vehicles, Vollkasko makes more sense.
Comprehensive (Vollkasko) insurance also covers damage to your own vehicle, even if the accident is your fault. It also covers vandalism, and hit-and-runs. It costs almost twice as much as Teilkasko insurance.16
Vollkasko insurance makes more sense for new vehicles.15
How to pick German car insurance
You can also talk to an insurance broker. They can help you transfer your driving experience from another country. You will get a much better price for your car insurance. Few brokers sell car insurance, because it’s not profitable.
How to pay less for German car insurance
Combine your insurance policies
Use your parents’ car insurance
If your parents live in Germany, they can insure your car as their second vehicle (Zweitwagen), and register you as an additional driver (Zusatzfahrer).2 Your parents will pay less for car insurance, because they have more driving experience. If you are under 25 years old, you can save a lot of money this way.3
Some insurance companies also offer discounts for the children of existing customers.4 Ask for a Familientarife.
Look for cheaper insurance every year
Your car insurance is renewed automatically each year on January 1. You have until November 30 to cancel it.14 Every year in November, you should look for cheaper car insurance. Use Verivox or Tarifcheck to compare car insurance prices.
If you sell the vehicle, you can end the insurance immediately.18
Choose a higher deductible
The deductible (Selbstbeteiligung) is the amount you pay yourself, before your insurance helps you. For example, if you have a 300€ deductible, and you cause 2,500€ in damages, you will pay 300€, and your insurance will pay the remaining 2,200€.
Pay yearly, not monthly
Make yearly payments instead of monthly payments. If you make yearly payments, you will pay 4% to 9% less.5
Seasonal plates (Saisonkennzeichen) are vehicle registration plates that only let you drive during certain months. For example, a motorcycle can have Saisonkennzeichen from April to October, or March to November. You don’t pay insurance for the months you can’t drive, so it’s cheaper. Out of season, you can’t drive the vehicle, and you can’t park it in public spaces.6 You must put it in storage, or find a private parking space.
Get a Werkstattbindung
If you agree to a Werkstattbindung, you can save 10% to 20% on your car insurance.7 If you have an accident, you must repair your car at a garage approved by your insurer. In many cases, you get better service with a Werkstattbindung. For example, you can get a free rental car while they repair your vehicle. Your claims might also be approved faster.
This option is only available for Teilkasko and Vollkasko insurance.19 Haftpflicht insurance does not cover repairs to your own vehicle.
Be a good driver
If you are a new driver, you will pay more for insurance. If you have more driving experience, and never have accidents, your insurance gets cheaper.8 German insurance companies give every driver a class (Schadenfreiheitsklasse). If you don’t make any claims, your Schadenfreiheitsklasse gets higher every year. A high Schadenfreiheitsklasse means that you are a safe driver. If you have a high Schadenfreiheitsklasse, you pay less for insurance.
Damages that are not your fault don’t affect your Schadenfreiheitsklasse.9 For example, if your insurance pays to fix a crack in your windshield, it does not affect your Schadenfreiheitsklasse. Your car insurance will not get more expensive.
|Years without claims||Schadenfreiheitsklasse||Discount|
|5 to 8 years||SF5 to SF8||45 to 50%|
|9 to 15 years||SF9 to SF15||55 to 60%|
|16 to 25 years||SF16 to SF25||65 to 70%|
|26 years or more||SF26 and above||75 to 80%|
If you have driving experience in other another EU country, tell your insurance company. They will count it as driving experience, and your insurance will be cheaper. Otherwise, you will be treated as a new driver, and your insurance will be more expensive. Each insurer has different rules for recognizing driving experience. They all ask for different documents.
Expat Car Insurance specialises in this. They help you find car insurance that recognises your driving experience. Most insurance brokers avoid this, because it’s a lot of work and it does not pay well.
If you have driving experience with car sharing, tell your insurance company. Some insurance companies count car sharing as driving experience, so your insurance will be cheaper.10
If you have a motorcycle, tell your insurance company. It will make your car insurance cheaper.11 Insurance for a second vehicle (Zweitwagen) is also much cheaper.
If you switch to a different insurance company, you will not lose your Schadenfreiheitsklasse.20
Deduct it from your taxes
In some cases, you can deduct vehicle insurance in your Steuererklärung.12 If you are a permanent employee, you can deduct part of your car insurance. If you are self-employed and only use the vehicle for work, you can deduct the full amount.21 You can only do this if you own the vehicle and the insurance policy. This page (in German) has more information. A tax advisor can also help you with this.
If you forgot to declare it, don’t worry. You can do it later, retroactively.21
What do I do if I get in a car accident in Germany?
If someone is injured in the accident, you should call 112 (the police).
If you have questions about insurance, call the Zentralruf der Autoversicherer (+4940300330300 or 08002502600). They can help you find the insurance details of the other person, even in other EU countries.23
How to cancel car insurance
Your car insurance is renewed automatically every year on January 1. You have until November 30 to cancel it. Every year in November, you should look for cheaper insurance. Use Verivox or Tarifcheck to compare car insurance prices.
If you sell your vehicle, you can cancel your vehicle insurance immediately. You do not need to wait until December 31.
What else should I know?
Insurance Green Card
To drive outside the European Union, you need a Green Card (Grüne Karte). This document lists the countries in which your car insurance is valid. It looks like this. When you leave the European Union, you must show your green card at the border control. This map shows which countries accept Green Cards. In other countries, you might need to buy car insurance at the border.
You can request a Green Card from your car insurance company. This is usually free.24