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Household contents insurance

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First things first

The household insurance serves the financial protection in case of loss or damage of own valuables in the household. TVs, cash, jewelry, furniture, bicycles, e-bikes and more are included in the insurance coverage.

The causes for the loss or damage can be very different. Damage caused by natural events (e.g. storm, hail) as well as theft or burglary are covered. Damage caused by your own gross negligence is also covered if you choose the right policy.

Choosing the right sum insured is crucial to ensure that all costs are covered by the insurance company in the event of a claim. In addition, it is important to know the contract conditions and exclusions exactly.

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Household contents insurance

Patrick Ott
Patrick Oliver Ott
Expert for insurance and finance
8. March 2022
Burglary, theft, fire, storm & more

The household contents insurance: protection against loss and damage

The inherited watch of your grandfather’s, earrings from your mother, the favorite cuddly toy of your child, the wedding dress or the photos of your honeymoon: There are things whose loss cannot be replaced by any amount of money. For all other personal possessions, however, household content insurance may well be worthwhile because it pays for the damage suffered or even total loss.

Around two-thirds of all households in Germany have Contents insurance, though not everyone needs it. Other insurances like health insurance, 3rd party liability insurance or income protection /occupational disability insurance should always have a higher priority. It is, though, most important to those for whom loss of home contents would be especially disastrous.

What’s usually covered by a contents insurance?

Household content insurance protects your property in the rented apartment or in your own property against loss or damage. Causes for a loss or damage can be many, such as:
  • burglary, robbery and vandalism
  • fire and lightning
  • storms and hail
  • leaking water pipes
It also covers your property when they are temporarily located away from your home (i.e. when traveling in a hotel room, car or RV).

In addition, there are extensions to the contents insurance cover that cost extra - for example, insurance against glass breakage or bicycle theft. And if you have rooms in the basement or on the ground floor, or even higher up in the building if you are close to streams and rivers, you should definitely take out "Elementarschaden-Schutz", i.e. coverage again damage due to natural hazards as well in these times of increasingly frequent heavy rainfall events.

The floods in the summer of 2021 in certain regions of Germany have made many consumers painfully aware of this existing gap in standard insurance policies. This is because a large proportion of those affected by the floods were not insured against so-called natural hazards damage - this is a special case that you usually have to insure via an additional policy. While the floods washed away all their possessions, they were not insured against such a case via their household content insurance policy.

What kind of household contents coverage do I need?

What kind of household contents coverage do I need?
Household content insurance is often needed. Insurers in Germany settled around 943 million claims in 2018 for property damaged or stolen - for around 41 million household contents nationwide. The price differences are enormous. The decisive factor for the price of a household content insurance policy is the place of residence. Insurers divide the German territory into risk zones. In cities with many burglaries, it is more expensive.

Therefore, it is not possible to give a general answer as to which household content insurance is the best. It depends very much on one's own needs...and where you life.

A comparison of contents insurance policies by an expert makes sense in any case, because even if damage such as burglary, vandalism, water damage, storm and hail are always covered, additional cover such as bicycle theft are not necessarily. So, the choice of content insurance depends on individual circumstances - not for everyone, for example, a compensation for glass breakage makes sense, and not every policy includes devices such as mobile phones or tablets.

Gross negligence: protection should still be granted

The insurer should also not reserve the right to reduce compensation if the customer has acted with gross negligence. Some providers are quick to make this accusation: leaving a window open, locking the front door only once, not turning off the stove - that can lead to trouble in case of a damage and claim against the insurance.

The insurance then will only pay if no such gross negligence occurred. That's why we also advise customers with old policies: Have us review your policies and, if in doubt, switch to a new contract with our help that does not allow for reductions of the claim in the event of gross negligence.
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Important facts for the right coverage

Using the right amount of coverage or an “Underinsurance waiver”

Does your insurance-sum insured still fit to the total amount needed for the costs of replacing at new prices? High-value purchases are often added over the years. Then it can happen that the insurance value is less than the total value of your belongings.

It's best to agree on a flat-rate underinsurance waiver of 650 euros value per square meter in which case the insurance will cover always each item in full (unless there is a specific excess amount agreed upon in the contract). Otherwise, you will only be partially reimbursed for a loss.

Example: apartment has 100 square meter -> coverage should be at least 65.000 Euro

Adequate contents insurance for high value items in your household

In most cases, they are only protected up to 20 percent of the sum insured. Jewelry up to 20,000 euros, securities and savings books up to 2,500 euros. If you have inherited or don't trust your bank, you may be covered for more. In that case, choose higher limits.

Especially if you collect expensive watches or artwork, a review of the insurance amount is necessary. In these cases, insurance companies usually want an inventory of the assets to be insured.

No reduction due to gross negligence

In many old contracts, the insurer may reduce its payment in the event of gross negligence. We advise to change the contract and exclude this, as it is common in modern contracts.

Gross negligence is always a possible reason for the household insurance not to pay the damage. Therefore, we always recommend to insure gross negligence.

Coverage for theft of bicycle/electric bike

Coverage for theft of bicycle/electric bike
Cycling and e-biking are becoming more and more popular. Accordingly, more money is being spent on this hobby and invested in more expensive bikes and ebikes. With household insurance, bikes can be insured against theft.

With many policies, it doesn't matter whether the bike was stolen from the cellar or in front of the beer garden. It is very important to choose the right sum insured. it will hardly be possible to recover an e-bike with just 1,000 euros. Of course a higher sum insured reflects in the price for the insurance.

Additional benefits of household contents insurances

Insured additional benefits in good home insurance policies are important to many customers. For example, if you're going on a cruise, you might want protection against burglary in the ship's cabin.

Camping vacationers want to be insured against burglary in a car parked on the street. Other add-ons cover leaking aquariums, theft of garden furniture from the patio, or theft of walkers and strollers from the hallway.
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FAQs about home insurance

1. Can I deduct household contents insurance from my taxes?

No, in most cases you cannot deduct the costs of a household content insurance policy from your taxes. However, there is one exception: If you have a study in your house or apartment that is recognized by the tax office, you may claim the household content insurance for the study as income-related expenses on a pro-rata basis.

This applies both to self-employed people who work from home and to salaried employees. So, you can't deduct the entire cost of homeowner's insurance from your taxes, but only to the extent that your workroom is a percentage of your home.

2. What is the claims process in the event of a loss or damage?

Obviously, this is one of the insurances you’ll be most happy with if you never actually need it. But If and when burglars have cracked the door or a burst pipe floods the apartment, household content insurance is worth a lot. However, settling the claim is not a matter of course.

It can drag on for weeks, partly because customers are unfamiliar with the insurer's requirements and make mistakes. All the more so, if you need to communicate in German instead of your native language. That's why it's a good idea to take out insurance through an insurance broker: they will settle the claim for you and make sure you get your money quickly.

3. What is not covered by a household policy?

Insurance coverage is limited to household contents. The building / property itself with all permanently installed items is not insured. This includes, for example, the roof, the masonry, pipes or windows. A building insurance / homeowners insurance is necessary for this.

As a simple rule, everything you can take with you when you move is protected by household insurance. So TV, soda, table, chairs and built-in appliances such as refrigerator or stove top.

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