The most important thing is motor vehicle liability insurance. It is required by law. That’s why insurers have to accept every customer – at least at the legal conditions and minimum sums. They may only reject customers in exceptional cases, for example if someone has not previously paid the premium, if the insurer only insures selected occupational groups such as civil servants, or if it has its business area only in a certain region and the customer lives elsewhere. If the driver causes an accident, the motor vehicle liability policy covers the damage suffered by the other road user – regardless of whether this is a pedestrian, a motorist or a cyclist. Motor liability does not cover the repair of one’s own car. Around 20 percent of cars in Germany are only covered by motor third party liability insurance. In most cases, these are older cars of low value.
Partial cover – in the event of glass breakage and thunderstorms
Another 30 percent of car owners also take out a partial coverage policy. On average, this costs around 90 euros extra in addition to car insurance. The partial cover pays in the event of theft – if the car is stolen or only individual parts of it, as well as in the event of burglary. It also applies in the event of glass breakage, for example if a crack in the windscreen makes it unusable.
In addition, it replaces damage caused by storms: storm, hail, flooding, lightning. In the case of storm damage, however, the insurance only applies from wind force 8. Damage caused by fire and explosion as well as short-circuit damage to the wiring are also covered. In addition there are wildlife accidents and marten bites, in some tariffs also the consequences of snow and roof avalanches. This means that it is primarily a matter of damage that the driver cannot influence by his driving style. For this reason, there are no no no-claims classes in the partial cover and therefore no price discounts after accident-free years – but in the case of damage there is also no downgrading.
Partial coverage – marten bite and wildlife accidents
Many tariffs only insure direct damage caused by marten bites. To replace a bitten through cable, however, is usually not really expensive. Much worse are the consequential damages: A defective cooling hose can cause a major engine damage. When taking out motor insurance, customers should therefore make sure that the consequential damages are also covered.
A similar trap lurks in the event of wildlife accidents: Many insurers limit this in the small print to furred game. Then accidents with pheasants, a runaway dog or a runaway cow are not covered. It is better if the insurance conditions include “all animals” or at least “all vertebrates”.
Tip: Customers can save on the price of partial coverage by taking out a deductible. We recommend an amount of 150 euros. Even higher deductibles reduce the price for the policy only slightly.
Fully comprehensive – useful for expensive passenger cars
Fully comprehensive insurance automatically includes partial cover – supplemented by protection in the event of accidents for which you are responsible: Who builds an accident, receives from the fully comprehensive the repair of the own car paid. It can also be used in the event of vandalism, for example when unknown persons scratch the paint or break off the antenna. Fully comprehensive cover also applies if the customer has had an accident through no fault of his own and the perpetrator commits a hit and run. It can also save nerves in the event of accidents abroad if there is a dispute with the foreign insurance company (for further details, see Special Accidents Abroad).
Those affected can then make use of their fully comprehensive insurance first. The discount is then downgraded, but if the opposing insurer pays later, the domestic insurer cancels the discount. The fully comprehensive insurance costs on average about 325 euros per year. It is advisable for expensive cars. Most fully comprehensive cars are worth 15,000 euros or more. We think a deductible of 300 euros makes sense.
No-claims classes – save a lot of money
The no-claims classes are important in car insurance. Those who remain accident-free slip into a cheaper SF class every year. Then the bill is lower. The insurers assign a percentage to each class. This is the portion of the basic premium that the customer actually pays. For example, after 15 accident-free years, you are usually classified in SF 15.
This corresponds to a premium rate of 30 percent for many insurers. This means that the customer pays only a quarter of the basic premium. In practice, this has the effect of discounting certain age groups: Older drivers in particular are in the low-cost SF classes. Which classes and which percentages apply vary depending on the tariff. Each insurer may determine this for itself. Many questions, for example the transfer of the no-claims bonus to relatives or to a new second vehicle, can be answered in our FAQ on car insurance.
Tip: If the policy becomes much more expensive after a downgrade, it can be particularly worthwhile to change your car insurer at the end of the year. The motor insurance comparison by Stiftung Warentest provides you with low-cost policies.
Downgrading after the accident
Anyone who causes an accident is downgraded – often by several levels. The SF discount then deteriorates significantly. The contribution becomes more expensive not only in the following year, but also in the years thereafter. Depending on the tariff, this can amount to several thousand euros. It is often the particularly low-cost tariffs that drastically downgrade after an accident (see Special So long insurer for details). However, the downgrading only applies to motor vehicle liability and comprehensive cover – not partial cover. It does not have any SF classes, because it primarily insures damage that the customer cannot influence through his driving style.
Tip: If you have caused a car accident, you can use our car insurance calculator free of charge. This will enable you to quickly find out whether it is better to pay for damage yourself after a crash and thus avoid a more uneconomical downgrade. After an accident, it is also important not to blindly rely on the regulation practice of motor insurance. In our Special Claims Settlement after a Car Accident, we shed light on how some companies trick claims adjust their claims.