What is private liability insurance?

Whether due to carelessness, mishap or forgetfulness: Anyone who causes damage must answer for it. That is regulated by law. The person who caused the damage must compensate the injured party – with enormous financial consequences. In the worst case, the polluter is liable with his house and property, with his bank balance, wages and salary. Even a later inheritance or lottery win can be accessed. The polluter is liable for the damage with all his assets – in extreme cases up to financial ruin.

If you want to protect yourself and your family comprehensively, you need private liability insurance. It insures against the financial risk that the person who caused the damage may face. Personal liability insurance is most important types of insurance.

What does private liability insurance cover?

Personal liability insurance offers the insured and his family protection against claims for damages. It does more than just compensate for the material damage. First of all, private liability checks whether and to what extent there is an obligation to pay damages at all.

The benefits of private liability insurance at a glance:

  • the cost of restoring  or replacing the damaged items
  • the costs of consequential damage  such as loss of use

for injured persons:

  • salvage costs
  • treatment costs
  • loss of earnings
  • Conversion costs of an apartment or house
  • often also compensation for pain and suffering or a lifelong pension in the event of permanent damage

Warding off unjustified claims (“passive legal protection”)

Liability insurance fends off claims for damages that are unfounded. If a legal dispute arises in such a case with the person who is claiming damages, the liability insurer conducts the process and bears the costs. Liability insurance thus offers a kind of “passive” legal protection in the event of unjustified liability claims.

Who is insured under personal liability?

First of all, private liability insurance protects the policyholder. He is the contractual partner and thus has all the rights and obligations arising from the insurance contract. The private liability insurance also covers:

Spouse/life partner: Even if no marriage has been concluded, the insurance cover can usually be extended to the life partner. For this, the name of the partner must be included in the contract.

Children (more details see below)

Household/garden helpers or babysitters: As part of their work, they are usually protected by the liability insurance of their clients (the insured family). An example: If the babysitter is looking after the children and harms a neighbor through negligence, the family’s insurance company will pay.

In the event of death: If the insured person dies, the insurance cover for the relatives continues – until the next premium payment. If the surviving partner pays the next premium, he automatically becomes a contractual partner and continues the existing private liability insurance.

How long are children insured through their parents?

A frequent question about private liability insurance: What protection do children have through parental insurance and when exactly do they need their own?

Children are generally insured through their parents’ liability insurance as long as they are not of legal age. Insurance coverage ends when they get married. Regardless of their age, the child continues to have liability insurance through their parents as long as they:

  • goes to school.
  • is doing his first professional training (apprenticeship or study).
  • is in the usual waiting times between the training sections.

Children who have completed their first degree or apprenticeship and then orientate themselves differently (e.g. through a second degree or apprenticeship) are no longer insured through their parents. In this case you need a separate liability insurance. The same applies if the youngsters either join the armed forces after school or start their careers straight away.

What applies to training and voluntary service?

For legal trainees and trainee teachers, insurance cover usually ends with the first state examination. If the son or daughter completes a federal voluntary service (duration usually 12 months), the insurance protection of the private liability insurance of the parents remains.

Au pair and semester abroad: What applies to insurance cover?

The insurance cover of a private liability insurance abroad is limited and only applies to temporary stays abroad. Which periods are specifically insured depends on the respective insurer and tariff.

Liability for pets: who pays for damage?

Damage caused by tamed small animals such as cats, guinea pigs or budgerigars is covered by the owner’s private liability insurance.

On the other hand, if you own a dog or horse privately, the protection of private liability insurance is sufficient. There are separate liability insurance policies for these animals:

Dog owner liability insurance

Even a peaceful dog can cause serious personal injury or property damage, for example if it breaks its leash and runs into the street, causing swerving cars to cause an accident. For cases of this kind, dog owners therefore also need dog owner liability insurance .

Horse owner liability insurance

Horse owners need pet owner liability insurance . Anyone who rides out on a horse borrowed from a riding school or a friend is protected by them; for example, if the horse shies away and injures someone. Liability claims by the owner of the horse, for example if the animal is lame after a ride, are not covered by private liability insurance.

What insurance customers should pay attention to with liability insurance

The sum insured

The policyholder should make sure that sufficiently high sums insured are agreed. In the case of personal injury in particular, the claims of the injured party can quickly reach millions.

The bad debt

Policyholders should keep an eye on the so-called bad debt loss. Because what happens if the policyholder is seriously injured physically by a cyclist and is forced to convert his entire house to make it handicapped accessible? Ideally, the liability of the cyclist pays. However, if the biker has no insurance and is also unable to pay, the accident victim gets nothing.

For such cases, some insurers offer bad debt coverage. This applies if the policyholder’s legitimate claims cannot (or cannot) be met by the person who caused the damage. In such cases, the liability insurer (instead of the polluter) compensates the policyholder.

The courtesy damages

Anyone who causes damage as part of a so-called friendship service or a favor does not usually have to be liable themselves.

Example of moving house: If a friend accidentally drops the expensive television, many courts assume that liability has been implicitly excluded. Because otherwise the helper would most likely not have been willing to help his friend.

In the case of favors, the private liability insurance of the helping friend does not initially compensate for the damage incurred. However, there are insurers that include favors and friendship services .

The key loss

In principle, the loss of objects is excluded from liability insurance. BUT: The loss of the key can also be included in the liability insurance . The policyholder should simply ask his insurer.

Important: The service in the event of the mere loss of keys is limited to replacing the locks. Since this is very expensive in an apartment building, for example, the assumption of costs is usually restricted or a deductible is due.

The compensation for pain and suffering

Compensation for pain and suffering is understood to be monetary compensation for damage that is not of a material nature – for example, suffering from psychological shock. Compensation for pain and suffering can be claimed by anyone who has suffered immaterial damage through the fault or misconduct of the person responsible. Even if there is strict liability, compensation for pain and suffering can be claimed.

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