Legal insurance in Germany

Legal insurance in Germany

Whether with your employer, landlord, neighbour or a business, disagreements can arise - and escalate. In these instances, legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) is a type of insurance in Germany that covers legal costs, including consulting with a lawyer. Unlike health insurance, it is not compulsory to have legal insurance, but many people choose to take it out for peace of mind - as many as 23,4 million policies were active as of 2022, according to Statista. 

Best legal insurance in Germany for expats

The following companies all offer legal insurance in Germany that is tailored to expats, for instance by offering advice and claims processes in English:

  • Feather (All in English. All digital. Designed especially for expats.)
  • GetSafe legal protection (Expat-focused insurance, 100% in English & simple to use mobile app)

What is legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)?

Simply put, legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung - also known as legal protection insurance and legal expenses insurance) covers the costs that arise from you pursuing a legal dispute, for instance: 

  • If you’re paying too much in rent, you’ve been served an eviction notice, or your landlord is refusing to give back your deposit
  • If you rent out an apartment to tenants and have some kind of dispute with them
  • If you have a disagreement with your neighbour, for instance over property boundaries or noise complaints
  • If you have been given a termination notice from your employer, you haven’t received your salary, or you’re facing some kind of discrimination at work
  • If you are injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault
  • If you are wrongly accused of a crime or wrongly fined by the police
  • If you are having trouble with a business, for instance if your gym won’t let you cancel your membership or your mobile phone provider has overcharged you
  • If you are experiencing issues with another type of insurance, for instance your disability insurance won’t pay out, or you have a car accident and the other person’s car insurance won’t pay
  • If you want to sue someone else for damages, for instance if they injure you

Having legal insurance allows you to feel confident in situations like these that you can assert your rights through legal action, without having to worry about the costs. 

What is not covered by legal protection insurance?

While many different kinds of costs are covered by legal insurance, most policies exclude claims that arise in the following circumstances: 

  • If you have been accused of an intentional crime like piracy, fraud, tax evasion, or murder
  • If someone else sues you for damages (in this case, your liability insurance steps in)
  • If the costs arose before you took out your insurance policy

These kinds of costs are also generally not covered by legal protection insurance (or only covered in part, depending on the insurer):

In addition, it is worth noting that private legal insurance will not cover costs related to your business activities, for instance if you run your own business or are a freelancer. To cover your self-employed professional activities, you will need to take out professional legal insurance (Gewerberechtsschutzversicherung). 

Legal insurance is also unlikely to cover you for cases that you have no chance of winning. 

What does legal expenses insurance cover? 

Depending on the type and scope of the policy that you take out, legal insurance can cover all manner of expenses related to legal costs, for instance: 

  • Getting legal advice from a lawyer
  • Sending legal letters, for instance to your landlord or employer
  • Court fees and legal representation in court
  • Fees for the opponent’s lawyer if you lose your case in court
  • Mediation, if you try to find a solution with the other party out of court
  • Expert and witness fees

Cost of legal insurance in Germany

Legal insurance is relatively inexpensive, with most policies costing somewhere between 10 and 30 euros per month. Like other types of insurance, legal insurance policies can be tailored to suit your exact needs. For instance, some insurers allow you to add additional people to the policy for a small cost. 

When taking out legal insurance, you shouldn’t necessarily opt for the all-round package, but consider exactly what kind of legal protection you want. Most insurers offer individual packages based on themes like “private” (for private disputes), “work” (for professional disputes), “tenant” and “landlord” (for housing-related disputes), so you can put packages together to build a policy that suits your needs. 

Your monthly premium will depend on a number of factors, including your age, location, occupation and marital status. You can also choose to pay a higher deductible (the amount that you first have to pay before the insurance company steps in) in exchange for lower monthly premiums. The deductible in Germany is usually at least 300 euros, but it may be lower. 

Legal insurers retain the right to terminate your insurance policy with three months’ notice without stating any reason. If you make too many expensive claims on your insurance - like going to court - you run the risk of having your policy cancelled. 

Using your legal insurance

Most legal insurance policies will have a waiting period clause included in the contract. This means that you have to allow a certain amount of time to elapse before you can make use of your policy - usually three to six months. 

After the waiting period is over, you are able to make a claim, if you need. Your first port of call will usually be contacting your insurer, who might direct you to a lawyer to discuss your case. Some insurers allow you to find your own lawyer, and then cover the costs, but it’s best to first consult with your insurance company to make sure they will cover your case.

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