Ottonova is a private health insurance company in Germany. They are popular with freelancers who move to Germany, because they speak English, they have a nice app, and their insurance is valid for a visa application.

But is it good? I was curious, so I did some research. This is what I learned.

This article was not suggested, written or approved by Ottonova. I have done independent research, and these opinions are my own.

Why does everyone recommend Ottonova?

Because they get paid to do it. Most Ottonova reviews are sponsored. Ottonova has an affiliate program. When a blogger brings them a customer, the blogger gets money. Ottonova pays the highest commissions in the industry1, by far. Bloggers recommend Ottonova, because it's what pays the most.

It does not mean that Ottonova is bad, but it means that Ottonova recommendations are not honest. Most bloggers are not Ottonova customers, and they know nothing about German health insurance. You should not listen to their advice.

This review is fair and honest. I have talked with 3 health insurance brokers, and I have read hundreds of Ottonova reviews. I'm not trying to sell Ottonova. I just tell you the facts, and I let you decide.

What should you know?

It's private health insurance

Ottonova sells private health insurance.

Before you choose health insurance, you must understand how German health insurance works. Private health insurance is not always the best choice, even when it's cheaper. In some cases, you can't even have private health insurance.

You should ask a health insurance broker before you choose health insurance. They can help you find better, cheaper health insurance. Their help is free.

It's not the cheapest option

Ottonova is not the cheapest private health insurance. If that's what you want, use Tarifcheck to compare health insurance prices.

But you should not just look at the price. The best health insurance depends on your situation. Read this guide to understand the German health insurance system. A health insurance broker can also help you pick the best insurance for your needs.

Related guide: How to choose German health insurance

They speak English

Ottonova offers customer service in English, 24/7. If you don't speak German, this is a big benefit.

Public health insurers like Techniker Krankenkasse and AOK unofficially have English customer service.

Related guide: My Techniker Krankenkasse review

They have a cool app

You can use the Ottonova app to do a few things:

  • Chat with their customer service, in English, and ask questions about your coverage
  • Book an appointment with a doctor
  • Book a video call with a doctor
  • Upload invoices and documents
  • Make health insurance claims

This is nice, but not unique. The TK app has most of those features, and it's also available in English1. You can use Doctena to book an appointment with a doctor.

It's valid for a German visa application

When you apply for a German residence permit, you need valid health insurance. Ottonova's health insurance is accepted by the German embassies, consulates and Ausländerbehörde. Health insurance from Ottonova is valid for the German freelance visa, work visa1 and Blue Card. Ottonova confirms this on their home page. They also have a BaFin licence1.

If you move to Germany as a freelancer, it's hard to get health insurance. Many private health insurers don't accept recent immigrants. In this case, Ottonova is a good option, because they accept immigrants. Feather also offers health insurance for expat freelancers. Health insurance brokers can also get you insured.

Related guide: Which health insurance do you need for your German visa?

It's a young insurance company

Ottonova is only in business since June 20171, 2. It's still a very small insurance company. In 2018, they had less 406 members1, 2. In 2019, they had 4,480 members, but only 860 had health insurance1. By comparison, Techniker Krankenkasse has over 10 million members.

On the good side, Ottonova is growing quickly. They get thousands of new members every year. Their revenue also grows every year: 262% in 2019, and 158% in 20201, 2. They could become a profitable health insurer.

On the bad side, Ottonova is losing more and more money. In 2018, they lost 1.5 million euros1, 2. In 2019, they lost 2.4 million euros1. In 2020, they lost 3.1 million euros. It's not a profitable company yet.

Why is this important? Because health insurance is a long term decision. If you stay in Germany for a long time, you want stable health insurance. Small health insurers are riskier. In 2010, a private health insurer with 25,000 members almost went bankrupt because of two sick patients1. City BKK's bankruptcy shows what happens to you if your health insurer goes bankrupt.

If you don't plan to live in Germany for a long time, this is not a big problem. If you want to stay in Germany longer, Ottonova is a bit risky.

Useful link: Solvency and financial condition report - 2020 (German)

Summary

If you need health insurance for your visa application, Ottonova will work well, but there are other options. You can get a quote from Ottonova, and decide if it works for you.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer service in English
  • Valid for a visa or residence permit application
  • Good coverage at a fair price

Cons

  • It's a startup, and it's not yet profitable
  • It's not cheap, compared to other private options
  • It's not better or worse than other options
  • Some people had problems with reimbursement

You can read more about Ottonova on the Ottonova website.

Other options

In my opinion, you should not choose your health insurance yourself. The best solution is to talk to a health insurance broker, and let them find the best insurance for you. They can help you get better, cheaper health insurance. Their help is completely free.

You can also use Tarifcheck to compare private health insurance prices. You enter some information about you, and they show you insurance options from different companies. It does not help you choose the best insurance; only the cheapest.