Pet insurance in Germany

Pet insurance in Germany

Pets bring joy to their owners’ lives - but they can also cost them a lot of money! Whether due to illness, injury or mishaps, our four-legged friends can land us with some hefty bills. This is where pet insurance steps in to provide cover. 

On this page, we look at the two most common types of pet insurance available to owners in Germany - health insurance and liability insurance for pets - to help you decide whether to get one or both types of insurance to cover your pet and give you peace of mind. 

Best pet insurance

Looking for the best pet insurance in Germany? Check out our recommended providers:

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

Pet insurance in Germany

Broadly speaking, there are two types of pet insurance in Germany that you should consider taking out:

  • Pet health insurance: Covers your pet’s medical bills
  • Pet liability insurance: Covers damage caused by your pet

Pet health insurance (Tierkrankenversicherung)

Whether for general check-ups and routine vaccinations, or due to accidents or illnesses, sooner or later every pet owner will need to make a visit to the vet. Unlike human health insurance, pet health insurance is not compulsory in Germany, but it will give you peace of mind and potentially save you money in the long run. Especially if your pet develops a complicated condition, the costs can stack up quickly. 

There are two types of pet medical insurance in Germany:

  • Pet health insurance
  • Pet surgery insurance

What does pet health insurance cover?

Comprehensive pet health insurance usually covers five key areas:

  • Veterinary consultations, examinations and treatments.
  • Surgical procedures, anaesthesia and post-operative care. 
  • Prescribed medications like antibiotics, pain relief and ongoing medication for chronic conditions.
  • Diagnostic tests like blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds and other laboratory tests.
  • Accommodation in the veterinary clinic, if your pet needs to be cared for overnight or over an extended period.
  • Emergency care, including out-of-hours visits or emergency surgeries.
  • Rehabilitation and therapy like physiotherapy or hydrotherapy.

What is not covered by health insurance for pets?

Depending on your individual policy, your pet health insurance might not cover routine pet care things like:

  • Vaccinations
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Dental care
  • Grooming

On top of this, not all insurers cover the cost of microchipping your pet. Many also exclude pre-existing conditions, so any health issues your pet has prior to you taking out a policy may not be covered. 

Bear in mind that many insurance policies contain a waiting period of up to three months from the date the contract is signed. This typically means you will not be able to claim for any vet fees incurred during this waiting period.

Surgery insurance 

Surgery insurance, as the name suggests, is a type of pet health insurance that only covers the cost of surgical procedures, which can be one of the most expensive unexpected costs associated with owning an animal. Many pet owners choose to just take out this type of health insurance, as the premiums are typically lower. 

However, this type of insurance wouldn’t cover you if your pet developed a chronic disease, for instance, which can quickly become quite costly. 

Pet liability insurance

Liability insurance is another type of insurance many pet owners choose to take out. It will provide coverage if your pet causes injuries or damage to third parties or their property and possessions. As a pet owner, you are legally liable for these damages, even if you are not present when the damage is caused. 

For example, imagine your dog slips its lead and runs across the road. A car swerves to avoid it and hits a bollard, causing thousands of euros’ worth of damage. Or your dog barks at a passerby, scaring them and causing them to fall from their bike and break a leg. As the owner, you are liable for these damages with your own assets, with no limit. For an uninsured person, an incident like this could work out very costly indeed, or even spell financial ruin. 

Pet liability insurance is therefore recommended for horses and dogs (and indeed some states legally require you to have liability insurance for your dog). 

Feather offers dog liability insurance in Germany, all in English and designed specifically for expats.

Dog liability insurance

Six of Germany’s 16 federal states require dog owners to have liability insurance by law. They are:

In all other states (with the exception of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where there is no legal requirement to have dog liability insurance), pet owners need to take out liability insurance for dogs considered dangerous breeds in Germany. These breeds include:

  • Pit bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Bull terrier

Other states have their own regulations on what is considered a dangerous breed. You can find a full list (in English) on the German customs website.

Even if you are not required to take out dog liability insurance by law, it might be worth doing so to protect yourself from unexpected expenses. According to the Federation of Private Insurers in Germany (GDV), 3 million out of the 9 million dogs in Germany are covered by liability insurance, and each year insurers process over 80.000 damage claims, with an average claim amount of 1.000 euros. Each year, they see around 100 incidents with damages totalling 50.000 euros or more. 

When choosing a dog liability insurance provider, check that they provide coverage outside of Germany or when the dog is being cared for by someone else, and also if they are off-lead at the time of the incident. 

Liability insurance for cats and other animals

Pet liability insurance is not typically required for cats and other kinds of small animals, as your private liability insurance usually covers them, but check with your individual insurance provider for details. 

If you own exotic or potentially dangerous animals like lizards, spiders or snakes, you can purchase a special exotic animal liability insurance. 

What is covered by pet liability insurance?

Pet liability insurance generally covers the following kinds of damage:

  • Personal injuries: E.g. the cost of medical care if a third party is injured by your pet
  • Property damage: E.g. the cost of repairing damage caused by your pet to someone’s property or their possessions
  • Financial losses as a result of personal injury or property damage: E.g. if someone is not able to work due to being injured by your pet
  • Legal fees: E.g. if you try to fight a claim, the legal costs you incur from hiring a lawyer and going to court

You might also be able to add additional cover to your policy, for instance:

  • Unintentional mating: If a male dog mates with a female dog without the owner’s permission, the owner of the female dog can ask for damages to cover the costs of the unwanted pregnancy
  • Puppies: If your dog has puppies, you can get a policy that also covers them for up to 12 months
  • Damage to rental property

What is not covered by liability insurance for pets?

Similarly to private liability insurance, pet liability insurance does not cover damage caused to your own person or property. This means that, for example, if you or a member of your family is injured by your own pet, the liability insurance company will not pay out. 

For the purposes of the insurance policy, everyone who lives in the household with the dog is considered its owner, and not a third party. Liability insurance only covers third parties. 

Liability insurance also does not cover:

  • Specific dog breeds: Some breeds are not covered by certain insurers
  • Intentional damage: For instance if a pet is commanded to attack someone
  • Wear and tear: For instance, if your pet’s claws wear down your flooring, the insurer will not cover the cost of replacing it

Combining pet insurance policies

Most providers will be able to offer you both pet health insurance and liability insurance cover (if you need it) in the same policy. 

Insurance for other animals

The majority of insurance companies in Germany offer pet insurance only for dogs, cats and horses, but there are some insurers that also offer coverage for small pets and rodents. See our list of recommended insurance providers at the top of this page.  

How much does pet health insurance cost in Germany?

The cost of pet insurance varies significantly depending on the type, breed, size and age of your pet. Other factors like where you live in Germany can also play a role. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger and older your pet is when you take out insurance, the higher your premium will be. 

It’s also worth noting that in Germany there is an official fee structure for veterinarians, set by the government, known as GOT. Vets are allowed to charge up to three times the GOT fee, whereas insurance companies might only pay up to twice the GOT fee. 

Some insurers might also cap reimbursement - for instance at 80 percent of the vet’s fee, leaving it up to you to pay the remaining 20 percent. Others might charge an excess, for example asking you to pay the first 200 euros before the insurer steps in. Finally, some insurance companies set a maximum reimbursement amount per year - for example 2.500 euros. 

Always check this fine print before signing a policy, as you might find that you end up having to pay a large portion of the cost of examinations and treatments yourself, despite having insurance. 

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