Should you trust Ottonova? An objective review

Before you choose Ottonova as your German health insurer, you should consider these points.

Ottonova is a private health insurance startup in Germany.

They are a very tempting option for expat freelancers who move to Germany. They have English customer support, and their insurance works when applying for a German visa. You do everything through their app, like with N26.

Like you, we took interest in Ottonova. Below is what we have learned from our research.

It's private health insurance

Ottonova is a private health insurer. Before you choose public or private health insurance, you should understand the German health insurance system.

Private has its benefits

When you have private health insurance, it's easier to get doctor appointments, and you sometimes get better treatment. Doctors make more money with private patients, so they have higher priority.

If you make a lot of money, if you don't have children, or if you don't want to live in Germany forever, private health insurance is often much cheaper.

Private is not for everyone

Not everyone can have private health insurance. Employees who make less than 60750€ per year can only choose public health insurance. They can't choose Ottonova. Freelancers, people with minijobs and employees who make over 60750€ per year can choose private health insurance. They can choose Ottonova.

If you moved to Germany as a freelancer, you might be forced to choose private health insurance. Public health insurers often refuse to cover freelancers who never had health insurance in Germany.

Private is not always cheaper

The price of public health insurance depends on your income. The price of private health insurance depends on your health condition. If you are young and have a high income, private health insurance looks cheaper.

However, private health insurance will get more expensive every year. If you have children, they won't be covered for free. If you lose your job or retire, it will not get cheaper. If private insurance becomes too expensive, you can't easily switch to public insurance.

Read our comparison of public and private health insurance to understand if private health insurance is a good option for you.

It has English customer support

Ottonova offers 24/7 English customer support. If you don't speak German, it can be very useful. Public health insurers like Techniker Krankenkasse and AOK unofficially have English customer support.

Ottonova is a 100% digital company. There are no Ottonova offices to go to. This is not really a problem. With other health insurers, you do everything online or over the phone anyway.

It works for the German visa application

When you apply for a German visa, you must prove that you have health insurance in Germany. Travel insurance (Mawista, Care Concept etc) is sometimes accepted, but you should get valid health insurance from a real German health insurer.

Ottonova is a real German health insurer, just like TK or AOK. It meets the requirements of the Ausländerbehörde. Health insurance from Ottonova is valid when applying for the German freelance visa or a German work visa.

It's a very young startup

Ottonova is in business since June 20171, 2. In 2018, Ottonova had 17 000 members1. By comparison, Techniker Krankenkasse has over 10 million members. In 2010, a private health insurer with 25 000 members almost went bankrupt because of two sick patients1.

Ottonova is not a profitable company yetin 2019. In 2018, it recorded a loss of 1.5 million euros1. The story of City BKK's bankruptcy shows what happens when a private health insurer goes bankrupt.

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