Legal Insurance in Germany
- A legal insurance policy provides financial security in the event of legal cases.
- Private customers can insure all legal areas relevant to them and choose between various protection modules.
- The digital insurers Feather and Getsafe offer the best legal insurance for expats in Germany.
What is legal insurance?
Legal confrontations can be costly. Even in straightforward cases, legal costs and court fees can quickly add up to several €1,000. Much more expensive are conflicts which go through various instances or need experts to clarify the legal situation.
Additionally, legal assistance is becoming increasingly expensive. Between 2012 and 2021, lawyers’ fees have risen by around 30%. A few examples: With a disputable amount of €25,000 you must expect legal fees and court costs of about €4,000 at first instance. If you lose the case in the next instance, you will pay legal bills of about €14,000.
Legal insurance offers protection against the financial consequences of legal problems. To seek justice is for those affected by legal issues, often only possible due claim compensation by insurance. Customers also profit from legal services offered by the insurance companies.
Legal insurance — with modular structure
Legal insurance in Germany is based on a modular structure. Insurers offer policies for different areas of law. Common legal insurance types are policies for private law, traffic law, professional law, and housing/real estate law. Court costs and lawyers’ fees are covered up to the sum insured, agreed in the contract. With the contract, you also require legal assistance provided by the insurance company.
Insurable areas of law
These areas of law can be insured by legal insurance in Germany:
- Private law
- Traffic law
- Employment/profession law
- Housing/real estate law
- Tax and administrative law, social law (as part of private law policy)
- Criminal law (as part of private lay policy)
Legal insurances offer combined policies that cover several areas of law — for example private, professional, and traffic. Such a combined policy is always worthwhile if there are risks in all the covered areas. Otherwise, individual policies for relevant areas of law are the better and cheaper solution.
The combination of private law, professional law, and traffic law is the most frequently requested solution.
Common claims categories in legal insurance
In their statistics, legal insurance companies list the most frequent claim categories:
- Private Contracts: Sales contracts, travel contracts (private law), rental contracts (real estate and tenancy law)
- Traffic: fines, driving license revocation, hit-and-run and dangerous bodily injury in road traffic
- Compensation for damages/compensation for pain and suffering: for example, after accidents (private law or traffic law), animal bites or medical malpractice
- Professional claims: Warning letters, dismissal, disputed references
- Real estate and housing: Neighborhood disputes, utility bills, rent increases
In some cases, the specific claims must be insured under different policies — private protection policies do not cover rental, professional, or traffic topics.
Rates for singles and families
The policies can be taken out for singles or for families/households. Singles can usually expect slightly cheaper rates compared to family policies.
Insurers structure their family tariffs differently. There are single tariffs and offers for a family/a household. If you choose a family insurance policy, the policy also covers unmarried adult children who no longer live at home and absolve their initial professional training or study.
If you decide on a family tariff, you should check exactly which group of people is insured before taking out the policy.
Costs covered by legal insurance in Germany
- Legal fees
- Court costs
- Costs for experts and witnesses
- Additional costs incurred abroad — such as translation costs and travel expenses to foreign courts
- If necessary, an interest-free loan for criminal bail
- All legal expenses of the opponent if you lose the case
Requirements for a good legal insurance in Germany
Legal insurance in Germany should meet the following minimum requirements:
The insurance sum should be at least €300,000. However, many policies offer inside EU sums of €5 million or unlimited legal coverage.
Legal expenses insurance does not only cover legal issues in Germany but also abroad. Insurance sums are normally valid for Germany and the EU. Outside EU the insurance sums are lower but should be at least €300.000. Legal insurance outside of Europe should be valid for at least six months.
Family and inheritance law
A private law policy should include a clause on legal advice cover in family and inheritance law. The costs of court proceedings in this area of law are principally not covered.
The loan amount for bail should be at least €100,000.
A good tariff in Germany also covers costs for out-of-court mediation up to contractually agreed maximum amounts.
Other criteria for choosing a legal insurance
- Short waiting period: Most tariffs stipulate a waiting period before insurance benefits are granted. The waiting period can range from 3 to 6 months. Exceptions refer to victims of a crime and traffic law.
- Waiver of the defense of pre-contractility: If this point is part of the insurance, legal events before the contract conclusion are covered, if the policy exists at least 5 years.
- Contractual agreement of “sticking decision”: Insurers have the right to refuse to cover the costs of a specific case due to lack of prospects of success or the argument that the insured person caused the legal case willfully. Such a decision can be contested by an arbitration report or a casting vote. In the first case, you must pay the costs of the expert. In a casting vote, your lawyer will represent your rights against the company. The costs for this are covered by the policy — regardless of the final decision.
- Free access to lawyer hotline of the company: Most insurers provide assistance in legal cases also by phone. A good tariff offers also new customers free access to these lawyer hotlines and does not rate such consulting as a claim.
Insurance cover confirmation — for every insurance case
Before you start a legal claim, you need a confirmation of cover from your insurer for every insurance case. You must therefore inform your insurer in advance and can only take legal action once you have received confirmation that the costs will be covered.
In more complicated cases, it may make sense to commission your lawyer to clarify the cost assumption with the insurance company, as he can better explain the prospects of success of a claim.
If the reimbursement of costs is refused by the insurer, an objection can be lodged. The final decision is then made by an arbitration report, a casting vote, or the involvement of an ombudsman as an independent arbitrator.
What does legal insurance cover?
Private legal insurance, traffic legal insurance, professional legal insurance and home rental legal insurance are the relevant areas of legal insurance. What your legal insurance covers depends on the risks insured in the policy.
Private legal insurance
This insurance covers a broad spectrum of private legal cases. A policy for private law is usually combined with other components such as professional, traffic, and home rental insurance.
Covered by private legal insurance are these areas of law:
Contracts under private law are often the cause of legal disputes. These can be sales contracts, service contracts, travel, or insurance contracts. Contract law also includes warranty claims for products or services.
Claims for damages
Legal protection insurance only covers claims for damages against third parties resulting from statutory liability provisions. This includes claims for damages or compensation for pain and suffering in the event of personal injury, property damage and monetary loss. However, legal insurance does not cover claims for damages against the insured person.
Tax and administrative law, social law
Tax and administrative legal insurance covers claims before a German administrative court or tax court.
In the case of legal issues relating to tax office, legal insurance in Germany reimburses the costs of court proceedings, but does not cover the costs of tax advice or legal representation in appeal proceedings. In administrative and social law disputes, the costs of appeal proceedings are reimbursed.
Legal advice covers in family and inheritance law
Legal advice insurance in family and inheritance law only covers legal support in disputes relating to maintenance, custody, and adoption as well as inheritance disputes. The reimbursement of court costs is excluded.
For good cover in this area, you should choose a tariff that not only covers the costs of legal advice in such disputes, but also other costs — such as for the preparation of documents by your lawyer. Furthermore, out-of-court mediation should be included.
Criminal legal insurance
Criminal legal protection insurance applies to misdemeanors and criminal offenses committed through negligence — also except for traffic offenses, which fall under traffic legal insurance. It does not cover intentional crimes. If an intentional act is assumed, legal insurance only pays out after an acquittal or court confirmation of negligence.
Some insurers offer an additional module for extended criminal legal protection, which also applies to accusations of intentional offenses. In the event of a guilty verdict, any costs already reimbursed must be paid back to the legal insurances.
Traffic legal insurance
Traffic cases are not covered by private legal insurance but require a traffic legal protection. A good traffic policy must cover all legal areas relevant to traffic law:
- Contract law: lawyer’s fees, court costs and expert witness fees for your claims for damages or compensation for pain and suffering
- Criminal law: costs for legal cases in the event of claims for hit-and-run accidents, negligent bodily injury in an accident or insulting other road users
- Contract and property law: legal cases when buying a new or used vehicle
- Tax law: protection in disputes with the tax office relating to vehicle tax (except for representation by a lawyer regarding the tax authorities)
- Administrative law: legal expenses for disputes with authorities, for example due to driving license revocation or disputable penalties and fines
Professional legal insurance
A legal insurance for private law does not cover employment issues. Therefore, employees should take out professional legal insurance, which covers all legal cases related to employment for example, disputes about salary and vacation entitlements, references, warnings, and dismissals.
In employment law proceedings in court, both sides must bear their legal costs in the first instance, regardless of the outcome of the case. Professional legal insurance does not cover these court costs but covers lawyer fees.
Self-employed individuals and freelancers require different professional protection than employees.
Home rental legal insurance
Policies for tenants cannot be taken out separately, but only with other legal protection components.
Rates for this legal insurance cover all landlord disputes — for example, about rent increases, service charge invoices, termination of tenancy agreements or eviction proceedings.
Homeowners and landlords need home legal protection tariffs according to their special needs.
What does legal insurance not cover?
The policies cover only legal costs for law areas and such cases, which are explicitly insured. Conflicts that existed before the start of the legal insurance contract you will have to pay from your own pocket – however there are exceptions, when such older cases become legally relevant only during the term of the contract.
In addition, there are waiting periods of 3 to 6 months for new contracts. In some areas – such as legal protection for victims, traffic cases and some other law fields – the insurance pays legal costs without a waiting period.
Principally non-insurable cases are:
- Claims that do not result from breaches of contract, as they fall within the scope of liability insurance
- Disputes concerning gambling and betting contracts or speculative investments
- Disputes arising from immoral offers by the insured person in the areas of racism, extremism, and pornography
- Intentional crimes
- Disputes between people who are jointly insured under a family contract
- Court fees for a dispute in inheritance and family law
How much does legal insurance cost?
The conditions and therefore also the costs of policies differ between the individual providers. You should therefore compare different offers or seek advice from an independent insurance expert before taking out a policy.
In principle, the premium amount depends on your age, your place of residency, the included areas of law, the conditions of the tariff and the amount of excess/deductible.
In a recent study (2023), Stiftung Finanztest showed the following costs for legal insurance in the areas of private, professional, and traffic insurance with an excess of €150 to €250:
- Singles: between around €20 and €57 per month/€240 to €680 per year
- Families: between around €22 and €68 per month/€260 to €820 per year
Best legal insurance in Germany
Finding the best legal insurance requires a detailed comparison of rates and conditions. Here we present the legal insurance policies from Feather and Getsafe, whose offers are explicitly aimed at expats, among others. Both policies can be taken out online in just a few minutes. The Feather and Getsafe websites are available in English.
Feather legal insurance
Feather is a Berlin-based fintech company that offers private consumers’ insurance for all relevant areas of life.
Feather legal insurance is available in Basic and Advanced tariffs, which differ in terms of the sums insured and the coverage of individual services. The sum insured in the Basic policy is €1 million within the EU and €250,000 worldwide (without specifying the insurance period). The Advanced tariff offers unlimited coverage within Europe and up to €500,000 worldwide. Free legal assistance by a lawyer of the company is offered in both tariffs. The areas of private, professional, traffic and residential insurance are available.
The waiting periods are 3 or 6 months in the Basic tariff, depending on the area of law, and 3 months in the Advanced tariff. There is no waiting period for some areas of law.
Feather does not offer insurance cover for immigration issues, for the preventive review of contracts and for legal cases in connection with full-time self-employment. Only part-time self-employed business activities can be insured.
The variable deductible starts at €300, but can be lowered if you have had legal insurance in Germany for the past 5 years. After the first insured legal case, Feather demands a higher deductible of €500 for one year. After each claim-free year, the excess is reduced by €100.
Feather legal insurance can be taken out from €17.75 per month.
Getsafe legal insurance
Getsafe is a digital insurance provider based in Berlin and Heidelberg with roots in the fintech scene. Getsafe insurance offers also cover all insurance areas that are relevant for private customers.
Getsafe legal insurance offers unlimited cover within the EU. Legal cases outside Europe are insured for €500,000 for one year.
As a customer, a lawyer hotline is available 24/7. An initial consultation with a lawyer in an insured legal case is free of charge. The Handelsblatt and Focus Money, among others, have awarded Getsafe legal insurance top marks in independent tests.
The insurance covers the legal areas of private, professional, and traffic. Customers can book extensions for the areas of housing and criminal law.
The waiting period is 3 or 6 months, depending on the area of law, but in many areas—in traffic and criminal law, but also in other fields of law—there is no waiting period. Getsafe customers can take advantage of legal advice from a lawyer immediately after taking out the policy, regardless of the waiting period.
The deductible is €300 in the first year. In each claim-free year, it is reduced by €100, so that after 3 years, insurance without an excess is possible. However, the excess after an insurance case increases up to €500 for one year.
The costs for the Getsafe offer depend on age and place of residence. They can be calculated individually in the Getsafe app. The Private, Professional, Traffic tariff can be taken out from €15.12 per month.
How to apply for legal insurance?
You can apply for legal insurance either through an insurance broker or directly with an insurance company. An online application is almost always possible.
Before concluding the contract, you will have to answer questions about claims relevant to legal insurance in the past five years. You must answer these questions truthfully – if not, the company may later refuse to pay.
Conclusion — is legal insurance worth it?
Whether it makes sense for you to purchase legal insurance depends on your private life. Before you decide on a policy, you should clarify for yourself in which areas you can expect a legal dispute and how likely it is that such a dispute will occur. The next step is to determine which components your legal insurance should contain.
Legal insurance enables you to fight for your rights without financial restrictions. However, it is only worthwhile for legal areas in which you expect relevant risks.
Frequently asked questions
As an alternative to legal insurance, you can take advantage of various forms of legal advice that focus on specific areas of law. For example, tenants’ associations or automobile clubs also offer their members free professional advice on legal topics. Fee-based advice from a lawyer is also affordable. For more comprehensive cover in legal matters, however, you will need legal insurance.
Most legal insurances allow a free choice of lawyer. However, if you contractually accept that you will be represented in a legal case by a partner lawyer of your insurance company, this usually results in premium advantages.
The notice periods for your legal insurance are part of your insurance contract. Cancellation must be made in writing; some legal insurance providers also allow cancellation by e-mail.
There is an extraordinary right of termination if the insurance company increases the premiums without extending the scope of the policy.
Yes, legal insurance providers are entitled to special termination if you wish to be reimbursed for two or more legal issues per year.
A regular termination by the insurer can be done at the end of the contact term.
After termination by the insurance company, you may have difficulties concluding a legal insurance contract with another company. You should therefore ask the previous insurer to withdraw the termination so that you can initiate a regular termination yourself.