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HomeGerman FinanceAre you glad you got accident insurance?

Are you glad you got accident insurance?

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people tend to misunderstand private accident insurance. If break your wrist when falling off a bicycle or tears their cruciate ligament while exercising our are not protected with accident insurance.

But that’s not true: the insurance only pays if an accident causes permanent physical damage. A broken leg after slipping on black ice is usually not financially a drama. There are practically no benefits from an accident insurance for this, and you don’t need any for that.

Basic facts about private accident insurance in Germany

  • Private accident insurance only pays if you suffer permanent damage as a result of an accident. Illnesses are the greater risk.
  • You are better protected with an occupational disability insurance, because it pays in the event of illness and accident.
  • Accident insurance could possibly be an option if you have a high-risk hobby.

This is how you do it

  • First, try to get good disability insurance.
  • You don’t get disability insurance? Then the accident insurance can cover a small part of the risk. That’s better than no protection at all. But there are often more sensible alternatives.
  • It is best to discuss which one is suitable for you with a specialist advisor.

1. When does the accident insurance pay?

The accident insurance only pays if certain conditions are met. The most important condition is that the physical impairment, the so-called disability, is permanent. Damage to health is considered permanent if it is likely to last longer than three years and no improvement is expected.

This means: Even if you lie in hospital for weeks after a motorcycle accident, the accident insurance may not pay – if you get completely healthy again. However, if you can no longer bend your knee after rehab, you will receive part of the insured amount.

In addition, the insurance only pays if the disability was actually caused by an accident. An accident is usually only an event that suddenly affects the body from the outside. If someone falls just like that for no apparent reason, this does not necessarily count as an accident for the insurance company. If he stumbled over a tree root or loose pavement slab, this is considered an outside impact.

2. Is accident insurance even necessary?

We rarely think private accident insurance makes sense. There are significantly more important safeguards that you should take care of first. An accident insurance is primarily intended to cushion additional costs after an accident and pays a one-off amount of money. As a rule, however, you only need large sums if you are injured so badly that you have to convert your house or car to make it accessible for the disabled, or to finance additional therapies.

In such cases, however, there is also state aid under certain conditions, for example from the statutory pension insurance, the so-called integration offices or the nursing care fund. Basic equipment pays for the necessary aids such as wheelchairs, prostheses or support handles for the bathroom.

In the case of less serious injuries, no modifications are usually necessary. However, it is important that you protect yourself in the event that you cannot work for a long time after an accident. An occupational disability insurance is best suited for this.

Consumers often overestimate the risk of having a serious accident with a consequent disability. According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, only 2 percent of all severe disabilities are the result of an accident, the vast majority (85 percent) are caused by illness. And it is precisely in these cases that accident insurance does not help. That is why an accident policy only offers pseudo security. It is not for nothing that insurers earn a lot from accident contracts.

Disability insurance makes more sense

Occupational disability insurance (BU) makes more sense than private accident insurance. Because it pays if you are unlikely to be able to do your last job for at least six months. The reason for this is irrelevant: there is money after accidents as well as physical and mental illnesses.

In this way, occupational disability insurance offers significantly more extensive protection than accident insurance. Because according to statistics from the analysis company Morgen & Morgen, it is nine times more likely that you will no longer be able to do your job due to an illness than due to an accident. You can read what you have to pay attention to when taking out a policy in our guide to occupational disability insurance.

Children and extreme athletes

Children cannot be insured against occupational disability at a young age. For them, child disability insurance, which also pays in the event of illness, makes more sense than pure accident protection. As a rule, children recover quickly from falls and rarely suffer permanent damage. According to the Federal Statistical Office, accidents are even less of a cause of severe disability in children than in adults. In most cases, parents are entitled to various support benefits if their child is disabled.

For extreme sports enthusiasts, accident insurance can be a wise choice in some cases. Sometimes the disability insurance requires a high risk premium for dangerous hobbies such as kite surfing, diving or skydiving, which makes the contract very expensive. In such cases, it may be worth considering excluding sport from the BU insurance and also taking out accident insurance so that sports accidents are still covered. You should, however, have a precise calculation of whether this is significantly cheaper.

Attention: The accident insurance does not pay for accidents in connection with aviation or racing. These include, for example, gliding and paragliding as well as car and motorcycle races. Some providers also exclude other particularly dangerous leisure activities from protection. Therefore, before taking out an accident policy, customers should clarify to what extent their high-risk hobby is also insured.

3. Let yourself be well advised which protection is possible

An occupational disability insurance offers the most comprehensive protection in the event that you can no longer work – either due to illness or an accident. However, it is precisely the people who most urgently need protection who often do not get a contract: Those who have previous illnesses or who work physically often hope in vain for an affordable offer.

Sometimes it is possible to find suitable BU protection by making an advance risk inquiry with various insurers. If that doesn’t work, you should think about alternative coverage. For example, disability insurance, a multi-risk policy or basic disability insurance can be considered. Such offers are not an equivalent substitute. They all offer only one – to varying degrees – stripped-down protection. Accident insurance can also be part of the coverage.

The advantage of accident insurance: It is also relatively cheap for people with a risk occupation. And many providers do not ask particularly extensive health questions.

The big disadvantage: Accident insurance only offers very limited protection. Insured persons do not receive money if they are temporarily unable to work after an accident, but only if they suffer physical damage that is likely to last for more than three years. Months can pass before the insurance company pays, which those affected have to bridge the gap financially.

Contact an insurance advisor or broker

Accident insurance is better than no protection at all, but there can be more sensible options for coverage. It is best to discuss which of these are suitable in your case with a specialized insurance advisor or broker. They can advise you individually on how best to protect yourself in the event that you can no longer work. Maybe a combination of different insurances is suitable, maybe you can build up reserves for emergencies through consistent savings.

Also check with the broker or advisor to what extent you may already have accident protection and whether this is sufficient. If you have an accident at work, at university, doing volunteer work or on the way there, for example, statutory accident insurance takes over. It covers the costs of rehab and loss of income. She also pays a small pension if your ability to work is impaired in the long term.

Some unions such as Verdi and the DGB also include leisure time accident insurance in the membership fee. Members of a sports club are also insured to a small extent for club activities via the sports insurance of the respective state sports association.

4. What do you have to pay attention to first when it comes to accident insurance?

If you actually decide to take out accident insurance, then, as with most insurance companies, the rule is: don’t mess, just plop! You shouldn’t save at the wrong end and agree to insufficient insurance benefits.

Sufficient sum insured

The most important benefit of the accident insurance is the lump sum payment if the insured person is permanently disabled due to an accident. To ensure that this is sufficient in an emergency, it is important to choose an appropriately high sum insured (also known as the basic disability sum).

After an accident, depending on the severity of the health impairment (called disability), only part of the sum insured is paid out. Minor impairments are more common than severe. That is why the insurance should pay from 1 percent disability.

The best way to clarify which sum insured is appropriate for your personal situation is by consulting on accident insurance. There are three questions to be answered:

  • What running costs would I have to face, for example due to lost wages due to an accident or domestic help?
  • What one-off costs could arise, for example through renovations to the house (stair lift) or through purchases (electric wheelchair)? These costs look different depending on the individual environment.
  • What reserves and additional safeguards do I have?

If you do not have occupational disability insurance, you should also bear in mind that, in the worst case, the money paid out has to last until the end of your life. A sum insured of several hundred thousand euros then makes perfect sense. Another advantage of a high sum insured: If you have a low degree of disability, you will receive a significant amount of money.

Good performance curve

We also recommend agreeing on a so-called progression. The progression ensures that you receive a multiple of the sum insured in the event of severe disabilities. This makes sense because in such cases the capital requirement often increases immensely. We recommend a progression of 225 or 350 percent.

In the case of full disability (i.e. a degree of disability of 100 percent), you would receive 3.5 times the insured basic sum in a tariff with 350 percent progression: With an insured sum of 100,000 euros, that would be 350,000 euros.

However, a high progression does not automatically guarantee the highest performance. Because the steps in which the benefit increases for different degrees of severity of the disability differs depending on the provider. Therefore, when comparing several tariffs, pay attention to how much money you would get with different degrees of disability. A look at the performance in the event of hearing, foot and arm loss is useful for this.

Agree on death benefit

Term life insurance is the best choice for people who want to protect their survivors in the event of their own death. Nevertheless, it makes sense to agree on a death benefit in accident insurance as well, because it also has a function if the insured person does not die.

The insurance company can pay an advance after an accident if it is certain that impairment will remain but it is not yet clear how serious it will be. This advance payment is limited to the amount stated in the contract as the death benefit. If no death benefit has been agreed, there is usually no advance payment. In order to cope with additional costs until the extent of the disability has been determined, we recommend a death benefit of between 10,000 and 20,000 euros.

5. What services make a good tariff?

Insurance companies offer a myriad of tariffs that differ in many performance features. Many of them are simply marketing gimmicks by insurance companies to stand out from the crowd and to provide intermediaries with sales arguments. However, we consider the following characteristics to be important:

You should pay particular attention to the link tax when choosing a tariff. Because this determines how much money you will receive if a certain part of the body loses function. It works like this: For each part of the body, the insurance company determines the degree of impairment it assumes if the customer loses the part in question or can no longer use it.

If several parts of the body are affected by the accident, the individual degrees of disability are added up. However, the values ​​only apply in the event of complete inoperability. In the case of partial impairment, the link tax is only taken into account proportionally. The link tax, together with the progression curve, is therefore decisive for how much money the insurance pays out.

An example: A customer has agreed to an insurance sum of 100,000 euros. The link tax of his tariff sets a value of 55 percent for the hand. If his hand actually has to be amputated after an accident, he will receive 55,000 euros from the insurance company. If a progression has been agreed, he receives a higher sum.

The link tax can vary considerably depending on the tariff. Although there are recommendations from the insurance association GDV for the link tax, good tariffs do a lot more. Damage to internal organs is also not clearly measured in many tariffs, but should definitely be included in the insurance. It is therefore worth making a comparison.

An overview of the analysis company Ascore provides a good orientation. The company has examined the link tax of 105 accident tariffs and evaluated the average degrees of disability that the insurance companies specify. The link tax of a high-performance tariff should at least reach the mean values ​​mentioned and in the best case exceed them.

Involvement of diseases

If the insured person has an illness that is jointly responsible for the health consequences of an accident, the insurance company can reduce its benefits. That would be the case, for example, if someone tears a tendon that was already damaged or a diabetes disease worsens the healing process.

A good tariff only reduces the benefit if an illness has contributed to at least 50 percent of the impairment. Some tariffs also do without the participation component entirely. This can be particularly helpful for people with many pre-existing conditions.

There is often a dispute about whether and to what extent existing illnesses or previous damage contributed to the outcome of the accident. Incidentally, the insurance company may not use age-related restrictions as an argument to pay less money.

Self-movement and increased exertion

Insurance companies actually define an accident as an event that has an external effect on the body. It is advantageous if the insurance cover also applies in the event of injuries caused by your own movement or increased physical exertion. Then the insured person is also protected if he kinks while playing football and tears the Achilles tendon or if he dislocates a vertebra by lifting heavily.

Heart attack, stroke and alcohol

Good tariffs also pay if an accident is triggered by a disorder of consciousness. In addition to fainting, microsleep and epileptic seizures, these also include heart attacks and strokes. Insurance should cover as many of these causes as possible. In addition, good tariffs also pay if an accident occurs while under the influence of alcohol or medication. However, alcohol limits usually apply, above which there is no longer any insurance cover.

Infections and tick bites

Make sure that impairments after infections and illnesses caused by an insect bite are also considered an accident. Then, for example, borreliosis transmitted by a tick bite is insured.

Rescue costs and cosmetic operations

Many providers contribute to the costs of rescue operations, for example if the insured person has to be rescued by helicopter after a skiing accident. If the appearance of the person concerned is permanently impaired after an accident, many insurers also cover the costs of cosmetic interventions. Both options should be endowed with at least 10,000 euros each. With good tariffs, both are automatically included.

Extended deadlines

Normally, damage to health is only recognized if it occurs within 15 months of the accident, if it is diagnosed by a doctor and reported to the insurance company. Good tariffs extend these deadlines to 18 months or more.

6. Which additional services are unnecessary?

In the competition for customers, the providers lure with numerous extras that can be included in the contract. Many of these additional benefits are not important and only make the insurance unnecessarily expensive.

Stay away from tariffs with premium refunds

Tariffs where customers get the premiums paid back at the end of the term if they don’t have an accident are particularly worthwhile for insurance. What sounds good is a sham: the premiums are many times higher than pure accident insurance – and in the end the return is often subterranean.

Hospital daily allowance is superfluous

Many insurance companies offer additional options such as an accident hospital daily allowance. This means that insured persons receive an agreed sum for every day they spend in hospital due to an accident. Convalescence allowance is given for the same number of days after hospitalization. Such extras are unnecessary. If you fear a shortfall in benefits due to the loss of salary in the event of a longer illness, you should cover this separately with a daily sickness allowance insurance.

7. How can I cancel an accident insurance?

Before you cancel an existing accident insurance, you should be sure that you are covered by other means and that you no longer need the contract. If in doubt, let us advise you. You can usually cancel annually with a notice period of three months. The termination date is the so-called main due date. This is in the insurance policy and is the date on which the premium is debited in the case of annual payment. If your tariff becomes more expensive than planned, you have a special right of termination.

However, if you cancel an accident insurance with premium refund, you may lose part of the capital you have saved. Therefore, have any deductions shown to you in writing by the insurer in advance. Instead of terminating such a contract, you can check whether the contract can be set free of charge. That means, you don’t pay anything anymore and the contract is quasi suspended.

By the way: You can also cancel the insurance. And just like that at the end of each insurance year for no particular reason. Providers usually make use of this right if the contract is not worthwhile for them. After an insured event, the provider may even give extraordinary notice within one month.

Frequently Asked Questions about accident insurance in Germany

When does the accident insurance pay?

The accident insurance only pays if certain conditions are met. 
The most important condition is that the physical impairment, the so-called disability, is permanent. 
Damage to health is considered permanent if it is likely to last longer than three years and no improvement is to be expected. 

Is accident insurance even necessary?

We rarely consider private accident insurance to make sense . There are significantly more important safeguards that you should take care of first. An accident insurance is primarily intended to cushion additional costs after an accident and pays a one-off amount of money. As a rule, however, you only need large sums if you are injured so badly that you have to convert your house or car to make it accessible for the disabled, or to finance additional therapies.

What do you have to pay attention to first when it comes to accident insurance?

If you actually decide to take out accident insurance, then, as with most insurance companies, the rule is: don’t mess, just plop! You shouldn’t save at the wrong end and agree to insufficient insurance benefits.


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Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.
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