Dear Hans-Torsten: I keep hearing stories about bikes getting stolen in Berlin. I have a pretty cheap bike – I paid less than €200 for it. Is it worth getting bike insurance?
You’re right, bike theft is booming in the German capital so insurance seems to make sense no matter what. Bike shops often offer you special bicycle theft insurance when you purchase a bike. However, I recommend getting a home insurance policy (Hausratsversicherung, something you might already have anyway!) which includes bike theft outside of the home. If you don’t have it, go to a comparison site like www.check24.de/hausratversicherung to calculate your yearly premium. Check “ja” when it asks “Fahrräder mitversichern?” You’ll be presented with various offers between roughly €70-400 a year, depending on the size of your flat and other variables. Make sure the bike coverage includes nighttime thefts (between 10pm and 6am). In the small print, you’ll probably find requirements – you might have to prove that your bike lock costs at least €20, for example.
If you don’t have or need home insurance (if you’re subletting, for example) or if your bike is worth well over €1000, a separate bike insurance policy could make sense. At www.fahrradversicherung24.de, Enra will offer you various comprehensive packages for a few euros a month. These often also cover the theft of individual parts from your bike (a growing phenomenon, it seems) – most home insurance policies do not. Whatever insurance you get, remember to save all receipts (bike, bike parts, locks…) in case you have the misfortune to have to make a claim.
I came across your website, and am thankful for the work you do. Understanding German taxes is not easy! I am an Indian national living in Germany since August 2014. I got my visa based on an employment contract with a local Berlin start-up. However, because I only work 30 hours per week, my visa also allows me to be self-employed. So I have two tax numbers: one for the job, and one for my own business. If I leave my job and only do my own business, I will have to pay my own health insurance. (I work as an English-language trainer for professionals.) Can I buy an insurance policy from India (which will be much cheaper) or do I have to get insured here?
The answer is officially “maybe”. Officially, the authorities would love you to get into “German” insurance, meaning gesetzliche Krankenkasse. Monthly payments are around €280-290/month for the self-employed (unless you get into the KSK – see below). But the Ausländerbehörde continues to accept much cheaper expat or “long-term travel” insurance policies for freelancers, as long as they cover all the basics. I have no idea what Indian companies offer, but German travel insurance company HanseMerkur can insure “foreign guests” for up to five years. The policy is pretty bare-bones (no dental, no check-ups, just medical emergencies are covered) but costs just €50-70 per month. You can get a quote at www.hmrv.de. For your visa, it’s important that the Ausländerbehörde approves your health insurance, and that’s more likely with a provider based in Germany.
How can a middle-aged freelancer with pre-existing conditions get health insurance?
Sorry, unlike Reema, you’re gonna have to cough up and get ‘real’ German insurance, which means a gesetzliche Krankenkasse or statutory insurance like AOK, TKK or Barmer. Given your pre-existing condition and your age, I would not recommend cheap “travel “insurance nor private German insurance. You’ll have to pay around €280 per month. Ouch. That said, once you’re in a Krankenkasse, apply for the Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) – assuming you’re a ‘creative’ type of freelancer. It’s a real pain, but there are special agencies that can assist you in the process for a small fee. If you can make it into the ‘artist’s’ insurance programme, your premiums will drop by at least half (depending on your income) and you’ll be contributing to a German pension scheme as well.
For more on the labyrinth of German health insurance, check out the article “How to get health insurance in Germany” at www.exberliner.com.
Originally published in issue #139, July 2015.