Frequently Asked Questions

All about ERICON & Insurances

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General Questions

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  • Is ERICON broker an insurance or an agent for one insurer?

    No, ERICON broker is inter alia an independent insurance broker, registered and licenced in Germany, trading globally.

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  • Which email address must I use, if I need a quick response?

    Using the word 'URGENT' in the subject of an email to 'info(at)ericon-broker.com', will get you are response the same business day.

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  • I am a NATO civilian, am I entitled to any NATO discount?

    Generally all members of NATO, BFG, SHAPE in Belgium and the Canadian Forces will receive additional discount, apart from German nationals.

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  • Can you insure my vehicle in SHAPE, Belgium?

    Yes, we insure NATO personnel in Belgium, however are limited to one company - Allianz Deutschland.
    For a quotation, please follow this link.

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Finances

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  • What is the difference between nominal- and effective interest rate

    The main difference is a mathematical measure and is due to monthly instalments.

    An example based on a mortgage
    If you borrowed 250.000 Euros in January and agreed to a yearly nominal interest rate of 5% then on 31st December you would have to pay
    12.500€ interest. In reality though you will be paying the 12.500€ in monthly instalments of 1.042,61€, on top of the agreed redemption rate. So strictly speaking you have paid the first interest instalment 11 months to soon, the second 10 months, etc. hence have lost interest yourself and this is reflected in the higher effective interest rate.

    The ancillary loan-related expense is the other piece that is reflected in the effective interest rate (e.g. administration costs). The total varies from bank to bank, which explains why two banks with the same nominal interest rate offer different effective interest rates.

    Please note: Other ancillary loan-realted expenses like: commitment-interest, evaluation costs and 'normal' account administration charges are not reflected within the effective interest rate!

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Insurance - Health - German Statutory ("Public")

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  • Can anyone sign up with statutory (public) health insurance?

    The answer to this question is "Yes, but with exemptions!"
    For this to make sense, one must first of all must understand the difference between the following 2 categories.

    1. Obligatory membership
      This means that because of the employee's gross salary, contributing towards Social Security becomes mandatory, so does statutory health insurance.
    2. Voluntary membership
      1. Even though the employee's salary exceeds a specific threshold, hence they could sign up with a private insurer, the employee decides to stay with the statutory provider.
        OR
      2. Switching to self-employment or arriving in Germany as a self-employed person, one has the right to switchto a private health insurance plan or remain as a voluntary member (and pay the max. contribution!).

    Exemptions:

    • Arriving in Germany as a self-employed, non-EU person, signing up with a public provider is not possible!
    • Once privately insured, switching to statutory (public) insurance is also not possible, unless the person becomes employe and has an annual salary below the before-mentioned specific threshold, called Annual Earning Limit (German: Jahresarbeitsentgeltgrenze).

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  • I am self-employed, how are my contributions calculated?

    The amount everyone has to contribute towards German statutory health insurance scheme is a percentage of their income (turn-over minus expenses) and other possible sources of income, e.g. capital yields, rent, etc. The income-total is to be proven to the provider by presenting them the most recent Tax-Income Assessment, under "Gewinn".

    Using the before-mentioned number, the system then differentiates between 2 types of members and applies the following percentage.

    • Standard Membership:

      • Medical insurance = 14.0%

      • Provider's additional fee = x%   (current market: 0.3% to 1.6%, depending on provider)

      • Long-Term Care insurance = 3.05%

      • Total = 14.0% + x% + 3.05%

    • Member is 23 years or older and has no children:

      • Medical insurance = 14.0%

      • Provider's additional fee = x%   (current market: 0.3% to 1.6%, depending on provider)

      • Long-Term Care insurance = 3.3%
      • Total = 14.0% + x% + 3.3%

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  • I have just started self-employment, how are my contributions calculated?

    In the event that self-employment has only just started, thus a tax-declaration is yet to be submitted, the health insurers fall back on reliable economic evaluations (German: Betriebswirtschaftliche Auswertung [BWA]) or try to make their own estimates, in expectation to make amendments once the first Tax-Income Assessment can be presented.

    Regardless however of the amount of income the self-employed might expect and declare towards the provider, monthly contributions are generally calculated in accorance with 2 thresholds.

    1. Minimum contribution:
      This so-called "Assessment Base for Minimal Contribution" (German: Mindestbeitragsbemessungsgrundlage) is set at 1,142€ (2019).
      One exception, if the business is a start-up, thus subsidised by the Employment Agency, the Assessment Base for Minimal Contribution is slightly less.
       
    2. Maximum contribution:
      The "Income Threshold" (German: Beitragsmessungsgrenze) for 2019 is set at 4,537.50€ per month / 54,450€ per year.

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Insurance - Health - German Private

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  • What does substitutive health insurance mean?

    For an insurance plan to be substitutive in Germany, legislation defines the following.

    • Insurer's ordinary right of termination is waived
    • Premium-calculation is based on actuarial principals
    • Saving towards the 'Old-Age-Reserve' are implemented
    • On changing tariff, 'Old-Age-Reserves' are transferable

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Insurance - Health - International Private

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  • What is the contractual period for an international health plan.

    This depends on the specific insurer's terms and conditions, however generally the policy holider is commited to at least 90 days and max. 1 year.

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Insurance - Health - International Private - aLC Health

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  • Do I have to purchase pregnancy cover with a aLC Prima plan?

    On 1st March 2011 the European Union introduced a Directive which required all insurances to be non-discriminatory in respect of gender.  This was originally intended to be aimed at property (motor) insurances but was extended to apply to all insurance sectors and came effective for health insurance on 21st December 2012.

    German health insurances had always traditionally included pregnancy cover for all females – rates calculated according to age. Consequently rates for men were lower. When it was announced that unisex would be implemented to the health sector optimists believed the female rates would reduce to the male level – but of course insurance companies would not miss such an opportunity, and simply INCREASED the male rates to those of females. Naturally the men complain that they have to bear the cost of pregnancy cover and in return women however will now find that they are paying for the cost of prostate cover!

    aLC never included pregnancy cover in their core benefits, which are and always have been, the same for male and female.  As it always was – and still is – pregnancy cover is a separate option – not one of the core benefits.  Therefore, it has not been necessary to rationalise the core benefit rates as they are inline with the EU Directive - being the same for both male and female. Also offering pregnancy as an option is also fairer – females who do not want this cover do not have to take it –EXCEPT if the German "Auslaenderamt" insist saying the insurance should be on the same lines as German insurance.

    It is unlikely that any German insurer would adopt the same structure as aLC – they would after all be losing potential revenue!

    The actual Law does not help too much as it relies on interpretation and the we have experienced that the Foreigners Offices also tend to apply their own ‘rules’ despite the Law.

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  • I live in the Netherlands, hence does aLC provide full cover?

    The health insurance act enacted by the Dutch government requires any person who is classed as a resident to hold a health insurance policy that includes cover for such things as chronic and pre-existing medical conditions. Latter are not covered or have been specifically excluded on the aLC Prima plans! For this reason and by Dutch law aLC Healthcare is obliged to advise their clients that any cover provided is 'additional' and/or 'supplementary' towards existing Dutch compulsory health insurance.

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  • Is aLC legally accepted in Germany?

    ALC Health, in conjunction with their underwriter Catlin Insurance Company (UK) Ltd., has authorisation in form of a irrefragably certificate from the German Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), confirming that their health plans Prima Classic, Prima Premier & Prima Platinum comply with requirements, hence are fully legal. With this authorisation aLC are eligible to trade in Germany and can offer health insurance to any resident in Germany, regardless of nationality.

    The above-mentioned is subject of payment in line with §193 paragraph 3 VVG (German Insurance Contract Act) and must include dental and pregnancy coverage!

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  • aLC increases my premium every year, why?

    All insurances are subject to inflation, yet health insurance inflation is invariably higher than normal inflation. For a more detailed explaination please read this article.

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Insurance - Motor

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  • Cancellation procedure - How to cancel NATO / BFG motor insurance

    All vehicles insured on the German system and by a German motor insurer can cancel their insurance contract by sending in one of the following documentions (a copy will suffice):

    • De-Registration Certificate ("Abmeldebescheinigung")
      For British Forces in Germany registering with the BFGVLO please provide the BFG Form 272.
    • Bill of Sale / Purchase Invoice with both buyer's & seller's signature and preferably not older than one month
    • Proof of New Insurance stating the make & model, preferably also the chassis number (only applicable if leaving Germany!)
    • One month notice on renewal and in writing / text form
    • Scrap certificate
    • Special right of termination!
      After an insured claim has been settled both parties (insurer / insured) have the right to cancel the contract within one month and has to be announced in writing.

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  • Coverage - 'Abroad Claim Protection'

    ACP gives you the possibility to claim on your own insurance in the event of a incident abroad and caused by a Third Party. You will then not have to deal with a foreign insurer or any language barriers and will receive reimbursement based on German insurance law, which is considerably more sophisticated compared to other countries. Hence ACP is primarily meant as a financial safety-catch should the other party's insurance decline payment or start delaying reimbursement, etc. ...

    As a matter of fact no reason is needed to use this benefit from the very beginning, however there is a catch! Clients must be aware that using Abroad Claim Protection will initially be classed as a claim on your own (liability) insurance until the insurer has received reimbursement of their costs from the opposing insurance. For this reason it is crucial that the police are always called out and if this is not possible then at least a European Accident Form has been completed by both parties. This is to prevent any contradictions regarding assignment of guilt as you then at least have the opponent's signature on your stated details.

    Bottom line:
    If you frequently travel thru different countries it is definitely worth having and can save a lot of hassle should one ever be involved in an accident. ERICON - as your constant companion - will of course always try to help and will communicate with the other party's insurer on your behalf, however some companies do make things more complicated than necessary with only one objective - to avoid paying or to delay reimbursement as long as possible.

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  • Claims - Which incidents need to be reported to the police?

    The insurers expect the following incidents related to motor insuance to be reported to the policy without delay.

    • Theft
    • Burglary
    • Vandalism
    • Parking incidents*
    • Damages caused by game**


    * Relates to policies with the extra "parking benefit", covered by the Partial Risk module. Hence not the damage your moving vehicle has caused to another parked vehicle but vice versa - some other vehicle has damaged your car.

    ** These can also be reported to the local forstery office.

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  • Finance & Lease - Transfer of Security

    When taking out a loan or lease on a vehicle, the 'object of desire' itself is often enough sufficient security for the creditor (bank).

    Consequently, it is then the loanee's/ lessee's responsibility to make sure the value is secured, hence Fully Comprehensive cover becomes inevitable to cover the financial consequences in the event of a bigger incident or even total-loss (write-off or theft). This hedging measure also entails a requirement set by the creditor, in which the borrower cedes his right of financial reimbursement to the bank.
    This is called 'Transfer of Security'.

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  • No Claims Discount - Temporary certificates for when leaving Germany

    On behalf of most insurance companies we are authorised to issue a "Temporary No Claims Discount certificate" and can produce this in English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish or even Turkish.

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  • No Claims Discount - Requirements to get a foreign certificate accepted in Germany

    There are several rules & regulations differing from insurer to insurer but in general the certificate must be:

    • Original
    • Issued by the insurer – not the broker!
    • Must state
      • a policy holder
      • claim-free insured years (some exceptions possible)
      • cancellation date
    • Translated, if not in English or German (the majority of insurances accept non-official translations)

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  • No Claims Discount - How does the system work in Germany?

    In Germany the No Claims Discount (NCD), called "Schadenfreiheitsrabatt", has the biggest affect on the premium. Your entitlement will either be electronically transferred from one German insurer to the other or can be provided in form of an original certificate from an insurance abroad, which has to state an expiry date and the amount of years claim-free insurance.

    What clients often do not understand when coming from overseas is that in Germany the NCD is linked to a policy number and not person related. This means that even if you have 30+ years claim-free history with motor insurance you cannot simply use this for as many policy as you like ... common sense, this would be counterproductive, making the whole idea of having to provide an original certificate pointless.

    The discount you will be granted depends on the actual years you have been insured (not driving) without having had to claim on your policy and is split into a Liability- & Comprehensive (Own Damage) related discount. This is technically described as (SF KH & SF VK).

    Example:
    On taking out a motor insurance policy with more than 3 years driving experience, to be proven with a copy the driver's license, you will be granted SF1/2, which is commonly equal to 70 %. In money terms this means that if your annual premium in 2013 was 100,00€ you would be asked to pay 70,00€ for a 12 month premium. Depending on whether you start your contract before or after 1st July you will automatically be granted SF1, one full years' NCD, and effective January 2014. Monetary this would result in dropping from 70% to commonly 60% = 60,00€ annual premium.

    The maximum amount of years you can achieve is endless, however the lowest percentage nowadays is generally at 25% for both Liability and Comprehensive, provided that SF35 has been reached.

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  • Payments - What happens if I fail to pay a subsequent motor insurance premium on time?

    Failing to make a subsequent payment with a German motor insurer does not mean coverage lapses as from the payments due-date.
    Once in arrears, the insurer will send a first reminder, normally within 2-3 weeks, stating the following.

    1. > Please make payment within 2 weeks after receiving this letter
      "After receiving this letter" in legal terms does not mean, when physically opening the envelope but within max. 3 working-days after the print-date of such.
       
    2. > Should the arrears not be settled within the 2-weeks' granted term of payment, insurance coverage will be terminated thereupon
       
    3. > Should the arrears be settled after the 2-weeks' granted term of payment, insurance coverage will be reinstated as from the date and time the bank has been instructed to transfer the payment or the insurer has debited the account, both scenarios subject to sufficient funds on account.

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  • Registration procedure - Using the German registration offices (non-POV or BFGLO)

    Yes, it is possible. Should you decide to register your vehicle outside the military environment, you will have to inform us so we can issue the so-called EVB number, as without you cannot register your vehicle. This number is not required for NATO registration!

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  • Registration procedure - Required documents for the NATO/ BFG vehicle licensing offices

    When taking out an insurance policy we give you the so-called double-white card, which you will have to present at your NATO POV/ BFG registration office (BFGLO).

    In addition you will also need the following documents for NATO:

    • Technical / inspection report
    • US Drivers License (for NATO personnel only)
    • Vehicle's log-book
    • ID

     For the BFGLO you need:

    • Proof of payment from your insurer / agent

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Nach oben

ImmoVest

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  • Does the tenant's deposit have to be secured interest-bearing?

    Yes, German law dictates that at the end of the rental-agreement the deposit has to be returned to the tenant with an interest that is in accordance to the "normal market return" for that specific period.

    Banks offer several solutions, e.g. 'savings- / escrow account' or pawnable 'fixed-term deposit accounts', latter generating higher returns but also needing the landlord's approval.

    With regards to 'ImmoVest", our maintenance company "park" the deposit on an 'escrow account' (e.g. Deutsche Kreditbank AG) and during the whole tenancy provide frequent balance sheets.

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Artists' Social Insurance / Künstlersozialkasse

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  • Is KSK membership compulsory for artists?

    KSK membership is not compulsory, does however have one very interesting aspect - financial support.

    As a member of KSK this means that you are treated as an 'employee' rather than a freelancer or self-employed. As such you are then entitled to statutory (public) health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – GKV), which can be provided by any of the many Kassen (companies). The monthly premiums are divided into two portions, the member pays approx. 50% and KSK subsidise the difference.

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  • What is the 'Künstlersozialkasse' (KSK)?

    The Social Security Insurance for Artists & Writers (Künstlersozialkasse - KSK) is not actually a health insurer itself, but instead it acts as an employer that allows qualified artists and some other professions to apply for membership.

    Upon enrolment the applicant will have access to German statutory (Public) health insurance scheme (GKV).

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  • What will statutory health insurance costs in conjuction with KSK?

    The cost of GKV insurance is related to income – on proposal every applicant will need to provide KSK an assessment of their anticipated annual income in form of a 'Profit & Loss Report' or Tax Return, supported by other acceptable evidence. These can be: contracts, business proposals, orders, bank statements, etc.  The current monthly rate for GKV is 15.5% of your gross earnings – each employee pays 8.2% and KSK contribute 7.3%.

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  • How do I apply for KSK and statutory health insurance?

    Before applying for statutory health insurance you will need to receive the certificate of enrolment from KSK. The application for this needs to be submitted direct to KSK and may take a few months (up to 6 months is not unusual) - to be processed and approved.

    Download the KSK Application here.

    Please note that there is also no guarantee that every application will be approved - this is up to KSK and their strict adherence to the requirements!

    This waiting period (and the possibility of non-approval) invariably produces problems for people who need a residence permit for Germany as this must normally be applied for immediately on entry into Germany, and all the requirements finalised (including health insurance) within 2-3 months. Although it is sometimes possible to get an extension but this is very much up to the Ausländeramt (Residence Permit Office/ Foreigner's Office), or even the individual official you are dealing with.

    On receipt of KSK's approval certificate a proposal for statutory health insurance must be made to a Krankenkasse (statutory health insurer). This can be done directly with the company, however we recommend to consult a representative or broker, like ERICON broker, to deal with this matter, after all it is a complex issue. The decision of which GKV provider the applicant wishes to join up with is totally up the individual.

    The last stage before completing the whole procedure is to inform KSK of the provider you have chosen.

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  • I am uncertain, should I apply for KSK membership?

    If you are intending to remain in Germany long-term then membership of KSK is worth considering, despite the effects on your ‘bottom-line’ income.  There are benefits to long-term membership. If however you are NOT planning to remain in Germany long-term, then you should seriously consider whether membership is worthwhile. Bearing in mind that your contributions to the various social security schemes, especially pension, are not always refundable and (pension) is only payable at retirement age. Pension does not actually acquire any value at all until you have been contributing for a qualifying period of 2 years.

    One advantage of the European Union is that within the EU, this ‘qualifying’ period is valid in all EU Member States so no need to start this qualifying period again if you move within its boundaries.

    .. the alternatives ...

    The only alternative is not to join KSK. In this case you will have to sign up with a private insurance (Privat Krankenversicherung – PKV). This topic is quite complex, so you will need help from an intermediary/ broker such as ERICON broker or other health insurance specialists throughout Germany.

    We strongly advise not to rely solely on advice from the insurance companies themselves. They will obviously only consider their own interests/ products and not the full range of options. As a non EU citizen the choice of German private insurers willing to accept an application is unfortunately very limited.

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  • Where can I find an official English information on KSK?

    The Künstlersozialkasse have put together detailed information in English in form of a pdf which can be downloaded here.

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