Saturday, October 15, 2011


I know, it sounds really dull, talking about insurance. If you want to skip this one, go ahead. It won't hurt my feelings. Some of you are interested in this sort of thing, though, so read on:

Since we moved here, at least three people we trust have told us we need to get insurance for our property and liability. So I asked our trusted school secretary, Philippa (you might remember her from the story about the neighbors), who recommended I go to the bank to sign up for insurance. It seemed funny to get it through the bank, but they speak English there and have all of our info already, so I went ahead and made an appointment.

Before I went there, I looked up the word for appointment in my dictionary and was able to successfully say, "I have an appointment with Ms. Thaden" to the lady at the info desk.  Hooray! Then I spent an hour with the banker (Ms. Thaden) and her coworker who is licensed to sell insurance. They were very patient and we even had to look up some insurance terms on Google translate. The insurance happens to be through Zurich (makes me think of Aunt Sue and Mike), and not Deutsche Bank.

Anyway, things you are supposed to get insurance for in Germany are:
Personal property - this is like renter's insurance, so it made sense to me. If you get the basic policy it doesn't cover anything that is lost or damaged because it was your own fault. Needless to say, I went for the top level policy that will cover it if I lose or damage things. So now we are covered if our bikes are stolen or if some really determined thief decides to climb the five flights of stairs, break into our apartment, and steal some Ikea furniture.

Personal liability - this covers you in case you hurt someone else, or damage someone else's property and they want you to pay for it. Germans consider this very important, so I guess these things must happen. They asked what we have in the U.S. for this situation, and didn't believe me when we I told them we don't. "What would you do then if you damaged someone else's things?" Well, I said, they could ask you to pay for them, and if you don't they could take you to court, but if you don't have the money, they just don't get paid.

Accident insurance - this covers you in case you are injured in an accident and can't work. It kicks in after your employer has paid you for 6 weeks and your health insurance has paid you for a while. I didn't buy this one.

Long-term disability - so if you had some medical condition that kept you from working, "you won't have anything", said the banker. I asked her to explain because I wasn't sure that was true.  She drew me a graph. First, you get 6 weeks of full pay from your employer. Then your health insurance would pay two-thirds of your salary for a maximum of 72 weeks. But really, she said, it's usually less than one year. Then the state would pay you 342 euros a month. Not bad. They really wanted me to buy this one, but I decided that if either of us was permanently disabled we would move back home and apply for Social Security Disability, because I actually understand how that works.

Legal defense insurance - If we need to hire a lawyer for any reason, we just have a deductible of 150 euros and then it's covered. Since two of the few people we know in Hannover are involved in legal disputes now, and because of the mess with our shipping situation, I decided to buy this one.

So now we are covered, like good German residents. And if anyone hikes up to our place to steal our things, we can just go to Ikea and buy new ones.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.