As an expat living in Germany you might be wondering, “Do I really need German legal insurance?” Unlike German health insurance, legal insurance in Germany is not compulsory. Many Germans, however, have legal insurance, and there is good reason for that. For starters, it is important to understand the basics of German legal insurance. Then you can decide whether or not you need legal protection.
Sections in this article:
The main purpose of legal insurance?
Legal insurance has two main purposes:
- To provide advice and support from lawyers
- To reimburse you of lawyer and court costs
Who can benefit from legal insurance?
Almost everyone can benefit from legal insurance. Legal plans cost less than €1 per day. However, they still protect you financially from hefty legal expenses. In addition to coverage for court fees, good legal insurance offers free legal advice from lawyers.
Examples of some situations in which legal insurance in Germany would be beneficial include:
- Lawyer fees. You decide to buy a home in Germany, and in the end the seller wants more money than he initially said or how it was written in the contract. Legal insurance would pay for your lawyer’s time.
- Lawyer fees and court fees. You go to a restaurant for dinner and get salmonella poisoning. As a result, you are in the hospital for 3 days. When you contact the restaurant for answers, the owner denies any wrongdoing. You decide to build a legal case against them to pay for your hospital fees. Without legal insurance you may not have the money to cover the expenses and because of that you wouldn’t even pursue your rights.
How does legal insurance work?
You could compare legal insurance in Germany to health insurance. Problems that occur after you purchase the protection are covered, but problems that occurred before you purchased the protection might not be covered.
Legal insurance protects you from unexpected situations. In other words, you can’t purchase legal insurance after you find out you’re being sued and immediately be covered. Oftentimes there is a “waiting period” in which your legal insurance does not go into effect until a specified length of time has passed. This is to prevent people from buying insurance only when they need it.
Legal insurance has several different names. Sometimes it’s referred to as “legal expenses insurance” (LEI), “legal protection insurance” (LPI), or “prepaid legal plans” (PPL).
Types of legal protection plans available:
Legal insurance in Germany is modular. In other words, legal protection can be divided into different sections, and you can choose which section(s) of legal protection you want to purchase. Depending on which legal insurance you buy, you will have different coverage. While legal protection comes in numerous forms, four are very common.
The most common ones are:
Private Legal Insurance
- Indemnity legal protection
- Private Contracts
- Disputes with administrative authorities
Professional Legal Insurance
- Disputes with your employer
- Defense in disciplinary and professional conduct cases
Traffic Offense Legal Insurance
- Indemnity legal protection
- Legal protection in contract and property law (e.g. after buying a car)
- Misdemeanor legal protection
- Disputes with financial authorities
- Disputes with administrative authorities
- Criminal legal protection
- Parking violations
- Driving of external vehicles through insured persons
Renters Legal Insurance (additional)
- Disputes with your landlord
- Disputes with neighbors
Legal cases happen most frequently with private cases, professional cases, and traffic cases. Therefore, you can often purchase the first three (private, professional & traffic legal insurance) in a combined policy.
What exactly is covered depends on the policy you choose. For example, oftentimes basic plans do not cover tax law or inheritance law. Therefore, you would need to specifically add this onto your plan if you want tax or inheritance legal insurance.
It’s worth noting that no legal insurance covers the penalty you incur from fines or tickets if you’ve lost the case. For example, if you drove too fast and received a speeding ticket, you are the one responsible for paying the ticket. Legal insurance only covers the cost of the lawyer and court fees.
How much does legal insurance cost?
How much legal insurance in Germany costs is highly variable. Nevertheless, legal insurance is by far one of the cheapest forms of insurance available.
Is it worth getting?
Legal insurance can save you a lot of money and headache. Lawyer fees, court fees and proceeding fees are a tough burden to bear. Proceeding fees can accumulate due to expert fees, bailiff fees, witness compensation and transcription costs. Before you know it, you could owe thousands of euros.
Legal insurance is one of the most inexpensive insurance policies you can purchase. For less than €1 per day you can get legal protection – which is pretty cheap considering legal fees can cost thousands of euros. Therefore, in almost all cases, it’s worth it to get legal insurance rather than waiting until you need help and facing expensive legal fees.
German legal insurance in English
Oftentimes the information you find online is only available in German. There is, however, a German legal insurance provider that offers all their services in English. GetSafe is a great legal insurance provider for expats living in Germany. Their website, application and customer service can all be accessed in English.
What does Getsafe offer?
In addition to English services, Getsafe offers:
Private, Professional & Traffic Protection: These three sections of legal insurance are included in your plan. Residential legal insurance is optional.
No fixed duration: You can cancel your legal insurance plan at anytime.
Court, lawyer and legal expert costs: Your court, lawyer and legal expert fees in Germany have unlimited coverage.
Costs for mediation: A mediation is when you settle a dispute without going to court. A mediator assists the settlement. The maximum coverage is €10.000 / year.
Worldwide maximum cover: This is if you need to settle a dispute outside of Europe. The maximum coverage is €200.000.
Your first consultation with your lawyer is free: If you solve your legal problem during the initial consultation with your lawyer you will not be charged.
Free calls with lawyers: Getsafe has lawyers that will answer your questions over the phone for free. And in English!
Bail: Your bail would be paid as an interest-free loan. The maximum coverage is €200.000.
Coverage for your children: Your children are covered unless they are married or employed.
Coverage for your partner: With an upgrade to your plan, your partner will also be covered.
Lawyer of your choice: You can choose your own lawyer!
Yearly reduction of your deductible if no claims are filed: Your deductible starts at €300. Every year you do not file any claims your deductible will decrease by €100. On the other hand, if you file a claim your deductible will reset the next year to €500.
Questions you might have before buying legal insurance:
Will my legal insurance go into effect the same day I buy a plan?
- Generally there is no wait time for private legal insurance. In other words, your plan will immediately go into effect. There are a few circumstances in which there is a restriction on waiting time:
- There is a 3 month wait time for administrative lawsuits, care lawsuits, and consultation for personal insolvency proceedings.
- The wait time for professional protection is 3 months.
- There is no wait time for traffic protection.
Will legal disputes that began before I bought Getsafe legal protection be covered?
- Your new insurance does not cover prior legal disputes. In other words, legal protection insurance only covers damages that occur after you have this insurance.
The best part? You can get covered through Getsafe for only €17.79 per month. As an expat in a new country, you never know when you might need legal insurance. Getsafe can help you when you need it the most!
If you’re ready to get legal protection in English, read our step-by-step instructions: “How To Get Legal Insurance In 5 Minutes.”
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