In this guide, I explain what legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) is, what it covers, and when it's worth it. I also list cheaper alternatives to legal insurance.

Legal insurance is also called legal protection insurance or legal expenses insurance.

If you need a lawyer, legal insurance pays for it. If you go to court, your legal insurance pays for all the legal costs, even if you lose1, 2.

For example, if you have a problem with your landlord, you can talk to a lawyer for free. The lawyer can write a letter to your landlord. If the letter doesn't solve the problem, you can sue your landlord. Your legal insurance will pay for everything1, 2.

If you don't have legal insurance, you must decide between paying 200€ per hour1 for a lawyer, or giving up. In Germany, the loser pays for the winner's legal fees, but if you're not 100% sure of winning, it's risky. People often let their landlord or their employer win, because they can't afford a lawyer. With legal insurance, you can always defend yourself. When people know that you can defend yourself, they don't mess with you.

What is covered

  • Getting advice from a lawyer
    You can call a lawyer and ask them questions. You can also meet with a lawyer for a consultation. You can always choose the lawyer1, 2. Many legal insurances also have a lawyer hotline that you can call.
  • Sending strongly-worded letters
    A lawyer can write a cease-and-desist letter (Abmahnung) to your landlord or your employer. That often solves the problem. It shows that you can defend yourself.
  • Suing someone
    If you go to court, your legal insurance will pay for your lawyer, and for all court fees. It will pay even if you lose. But your insurance won't cover you if you have no chance of winning. They will tell you before that you start.
  • Mediation
    Mediation is when a neutral expert helps two people find a solution. Your legal insurance will pay for the mediator.
  • Your spouse and children
    Your legal insurance can cover your spouse for an extra fee. Your children under 18 years old are usually covered. If your children are studying, they are usually covered until they are 251.

Here are a few examples where your legal insurance can help:

  • Problems with your landlord
    For example, if your rent is more than the legal limit, if your landlord wants to kick you out, or if they won't return your deposit when you move out.
  • Problems with your employer
    For example, if your employer wrongly fired you, if they won't pay you, or if you face discrimination at work.
  • Problems with the police
    For example, if the police wrongly fined you, or if you are wrongly accused of a crime. Intentional crimes like piracy, fraud or murder are not covered. Your insurance can help you contest a fine, but it will not pay a fine for you.
  • Problems with a business
    For example, if your laptop stopped working and the company won't fix it, or if a gym won't cancel your membership.
  • Problem with a government office
    For example, if you have problems with the Finanzamt or the Bürgeramt. Immigration problems are not covered.
  • Problem with another insurance
    For example, if your disability insurance won't pay, or if you had a car accident and the other person's insurance won't pay1. This is very common: 25% of disability insurance claims are refused1.
  • You want to sue someone for damages
    For example, a car hit you when you were on your bicycle1, or someone punched you in the face, and you want to sue them.

What is not covered

  • Someone else sues you for damages
    If someone sues you for damages that you have caused, your legal insurance won't help you1. This is covered by liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). Liability insurance is a lot more important than legal insurance.
  • Things that happened before you had insurance
    You must get insurance before you have a problem. It does not cover things that happened before you got the insurance1.
  • Immigration problems
    In general, immigration problems are not covered1, 2, 3.
  • Divorce, inheritance problems
    Usually, these are not covered by legal insurance1, 2. Your insurance usually covers the first consultation with a lawyer, nothing more1. If your insurance covers divorces, there is usually a 3 year waiting period before you are covered.
  • Piracy, theft and intentional crimes
    If you get caught pirating movies, your legal insurance usually won't help you1, 2, 3. It also won't help you with murder, fraud, tax evasion and other intentional crimes1.
  • Fines
    Legal insurance pays for legal costs, not fines. For example, it won't pay for your speeding ticket1. If you get a BVG fine, your insurance won't pay for it.
  • Self-employment
    Private legal insurance does not cover your business activities. For that, you need professional legal insurance (Gewerberechtsschutzversicherung).
  • Cases that you can't win
    Your legal insurance will not pay to go to court if you have no chance of winning1.

Sometimes, you still get a little coverage for these problems. For example, GetSafe covers consultation costs for online piracy1, but not going to court. They cover marriage and inheritance, but only for a few hundred euros. They can cover intentional crimes, but that costs more.

Fair use

If you use your legal insurance too much, it can be cancelled1, 2, 3. If you make 2 expensive claims in less than 12 months, they can cancel your insurance. They will still pay for those 2 claims, but after that, you are not insured. They will not cancel your insurance because you talked to a lawyer1, only for expensive things like going to court. This is true for all insurers.

The waiting period

You can't use your legal insurance as soon as you get it. There is usually a 3 to 6 month waiting period (Wartefrist)1, 2. The waiting period is shorter for certain problems (traffic, taxes), and longer for other problems (work, divorce).

You must get insurance before you have a problem. It does not cover things that happened before you got the insurance1.

  1. Choose a lawyer
    You can always choose the lawyer1, 2. Your insurance can also recommend a lawyer. Sometimes, if you choose the recommended lawyer, you pay a lower deductible1.
  2. Get a first consultation
    Talk to a lawyer. During the first consultation (Erstberatung), your lawyer will listen to you, and tell you what you can do next.
  3. Get a cover note (Deckungszusage)
    Ask your insurance company for a cover note (Deckungszusage). This confirms that the insurance will cover the legal costs. You can request it yourself, or lawyer can do it for you. The insurance company has 2 weeks to give it to you1. Your insurance might refuse to cover you if they think you can't win.
  4. Solve the problem
    Now, you know your options, and you know that your insurance covers the cost. You can do what you need to do, and solve your legal problem.

16€ to 24€ per month1. The cost depends on a few things1:

  • What your insurance covers
    You can choose if your legal insurance covers traffic problems, work problems or apartment problems. If your legal insurance covers more things, it will be more expensive.
  • What deductible you choose
    If you choose a higher deductible (Selbstbeteiligung), your legal insurance will be cheaper. If you need to use your insurance, you must pay part of the costs yourself. The deductible is usually 150€ to 500€. Usually, there is no deductible for a first consultation with a lawyer. Some insurances have a variable deductible. For example, it can be 300€ in the first year, and 0€ after 1 year.
  • If you pay every month, or every year
    If you pay for the whole year, your insurance will be cheaper.
  • Your age, location, occupation and marital status

Legal insurance is a luxury. It's not as important as liability insurance, but it's good to have1, 2. 46% of German households have legal insurance1.

A consultation with a lawyer costs around 200€ per hour. Simple legal cases cost less than 1,000€. Going to court usually costs thousands of euros, but if you win, the other side pays for everything. If you lose, then you pay for everything. It can be very expensive.

With legal insurance, you can also call a lawyer just to ask a few questions1. They can check a contract before you sign it. This is useful if you have a German contract, and you don't speak German. The biggest benefit of legal insurance is quick access to a lawyer. If you talk to a lawyer once or twice per year, it's already worth it.

If you don't need full legal insurance, look at cheaper options like tenant associations (Mieterverein) or legaltech like Conny.

When you choose legal insurance, always read the policy. Every insurance has different coverage. If you don't speak German, you should choose an English-speaking insurer like Feather or GetSafe. GetSafe's insurance policy is available in English.

What to cover

You can choose what your legal insurance covers.

  • Problems with your landlord (Mietrechtsschutz)
    If you don't trust your landlord, this can be very useful. If you only need this protection, just join a tenant association (Mieterverein). It's cheaper. Mietrechtsschutz alone is not really worth it1.
  • Problems with your tenants (Wohnrechtsschutz)
    If you have an apartment, and you rent it to someone else, this can be useful. If you only need this protection, you can join a landlord association. It usually includes legal assistance1, 2.
  • Traffic problems (Verkehrsrechtsschutz)
    If you drive or cycle a lot, this can be very useful. If you have a traffic accident, your legal insurance can help you sue the person who caused the accident1. It can also help you if the other person's insurance insurance won't pay. Some car insurance policies already include this protection. If you caused the accident, your car insurance (for your car) or your liability insurance (for your bicycle) already cover the costs1, 2.
  • Work problems (Arbeitsrechtsschutz or Berufsrechtsschutz)
    If you don't trust your employer, this can be very useful. If you have a problem with your employer, your legal insurance can help you.
  • Other problems (Privatrechtsschutz)
    This is covered by default. This includes problems with your insurance company, the tax office, and businesses.
  • Legal hotline (telefonische Rechtsberatung)
    Most legal insurances give you free access to a legal hotline. If you have a question for a lawyer, call this hotline and they will help you.

Coverage limit

Your legal insurance should cover you for at least 300,000€1. Clark recommends at least 500,000€, plus 25,000€ for problems in other countries1. Some insurances have unlimited coverage.

Remember that if you use your insurance too much, they can cancel it.

Waiting period

Usually, you must wait 3 to 6 months before you can use your legal insurance1. Some policies do not have a waiting period, but they are very expensive1. Sometimes, the waiting period is different for certain things. It's usually shorter tax problems, and longer for work and apartment problems1.

Your insurance does not cover existing problems, even if there is no waiting period1. You must get legal insurance before you need it. If your house is on fire, it's too late to buy house insurance.

Deductible

You can choose legal insurance with a deductible (Selbstbeteiligung). When you have a deductible, your insurance is cheaper1. Usually, the deductible is less than 500€. Check24 recommends a 150€ deductible1.

Some insurance policies have no deductible for first consultations. That means that you can talk to a lawyer for free1, and pay no deductible. If you go to court and you win, there is never a deductible, because the losing side pays for your legal costs1.

Combined with other insurances

Do not get your legal insurance from the same company as your other insurances1. If you have a problem with your other insurances, you will sue the same company that sold you legal insurance. They might refuse to help you.

English support

If you don't speak German, Feather and GetSafe offer legal insurance, and they speak English1.

Insurance comparison websites

Tarifcheck lets you compare legal insurances. This website is only in German.

Where to get help ➞ Legal questions

If you just need protection for apartment problems, join a tenant association (Mieterverein). Conny can help you lower your rent. Mineko can check your utilities bill.

If you have a low income, you can apply for legal help (Beratungshilfe) at the local Amtsgericht1. You will get a certificate (Beratungshilfeschein) that pays for your legal costs. If you get ALG II or Sozialhilfe, or if you are an asylum seeker, you are eligible1. You usually need to speak German.

Summary

  • It covers your legal costs. It's very useful if you don't trust your landlord or your employer.
  • It's a luxury. It's not essential, but it's good to have. Liability insurance is more important.
  • You must get it before you need it. If you already have a problem, it's usually too late.
  • You choose what it covers, and control how much it costs.
  • It rarely covers certain things like intentional crimes, divorces and immigration.
  • There are cheaper options. It depends on what you need.