Moving to Germany — or, any other country for that matter — requires planning. Be it because of employment opportunities, marriage, or educational pursuits, any long haul will require a fair amount of time for you to settle down. The list is long and may be headed by applying for a residence permit, shopping for a house or an apartment, looking for an affordable rental, and mapping your usual route, from house to work, and to the grocery. And you don’t want to forget to ask about audio conferencing and Internet rates and options for you to call folks back home who’ll miss you while you’re in Germany!
However, since you’re going to Germany, one item should be at the top, or at least, in the first five “things to do”: Getting insurance in Germany is not like getting it in the US. It’s mandataory for everyone, including immigrants, expatriates, persons on study visas, and especially for people staying on work visas. See an internation insurance expert and discuss your options and the types of insurance policies you may need. You might need the help, as getting insurance in Germany can be quite intricate and very specific. Below are a few items you may look forward to when applying for insurance in Germany:
1) Look at more than one insurance provider: The first thing you need to do is to look at several insurance providers. The German insurance providers are intensely competitive and it pays to look up more than one to make sure you get the best deal.
2) Check your medical history: Set an appointment with your doctor to learn about your current medical condition before leaving for abroad. Get advice and guidelines from your doctor or health care professional on what kind of precautions to take. Ask for options that you need to take should you require medical attention abroad. If you have pre-existing conditions, you should be more careful. Just like in the US, international insurance providers in Germany will limit its coverage of pre-existing conditions. That’s if they don’t cover it at all. Always remember: Your doctor won’t be traveling with you, so take extra effort in taking good care of yourself abroad.
3) Medical care availability: Certain areas in medical care abroad may be difficult to find, or downright different. English-speaking medical professionals may be difficult to find in Germany. Facilities that may cater to your specific medical needs may also be scarce. Find out in advance about the medical care availability in the area, city or town that you will be visiting or staying in. Get advice from insurance expert/s as to the kind of medical services you may be able to find there, as well. Going on vacation and indulging in skiing, mountain climbing, or any other high-risk sports? Be sure to check with your insurance providers and ask if they cover these kinds of activities, or not.
4) Learn more about the kinds of coverage you’ll need in Germany:
> Personal liability & legal assistance: This covers cases of liability for injury or damage to other persons or their property. You are covered whether the negligence was yours or that of a family member or even, in some cases, your pet. In the same way, legal assistance covers legal costs for matters involving work-related legal proceedings, public disputes such as traffic accidents, or violations, among others.
> Accident & disability: This covers financial care in the form of income support if you are hospitalized or unable to work. The policy may even cover for an injury and any cost relating to cosmetic surgery.
> Household & property: This covers the contents of your home against fire, theft, water damage, vandalism and hail. When you go apartment or house-hunting, you may find that it is a required part of many rental contracts. You may need to acquire property insurance as well, to cover lost baggage and other property, due to loss or theft during your travel or stay in Germany. Motor insurance coverage is a different policy altogether and is outlined in the next item below.
> Motor & vehicle: This covers instances when you rent a car, motorcycle, or even accompany someone in a personal vehicle. This covers damages to you, the vehicle you are riding in, including any other passengers that may be riding with you, in the case of accident or injury.
> Kidnapping & terrorism: This covers and provides for immediate response to kidnapping, and/or damages incurred due to terrorism.
> Repatriation of remains: This covers the immediate return of your remains to the US. For some insurance policies, they may also offer coverage for your attendance of family emergencies, such as illness or death, and will readily cover for your flight back home for these causes. Check with your insurance provider on how you may be able to get this kind of coverage.
> Accidental death & dismemberment: This covers the loss of limbs or death and will provide for the compensation for your benefit (in the case of dismemberment), or your beneficiary/ies (in the case of your death). If you are traveling on either a study or work visa, and are bringing family (spouse, dependents, children or otherwise), you may want to consider including them under this coverage, as well.
Traveling is always an exciting prospect, be it for vacation, study or work. But, safety and security should never be compromised. When going to Germany, always remember that taking insurance is required, and something everyone there has. You should have it too.