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Us car insurance in germany

Insurance in Germany

In Germany, insurance is a good thing to have -- health insurance and liability insurance for motor vehicles are mandatory.

If you are planning to spend more than six months in Germany, or have moved here in a job-related capacity, here's a primer on other insurances you may want.

Third-party Private Liability Insurance

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The most important and yet the least expensive insurance cover you will need in Germany is third-party private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). It will provide cover to you or to any insured member of your family in the event that you commit an act for which a German court would consider you ordinarily negligent.

Under German Law, there is no ceiling on the level of damages an individual could have awarded against them for an act they committed, even one committed innocently but carelessly, or for the misdeeds of their dog or horse.

Ordinary negligence could be a simple matter of damaging someone else's property, for instance knocking over a vase while visiting a friend or in a shop, or causing an accident as a pedestrian by not crossing at the zebra crossing, causing bodily injury whilst skiing or engaging in other sports activities. Please note that dogs and horses must be insured separately and are not included in a single or family policy. This essential insurance is intended to give you more than just peace of mind and is strongly recommended and often contractually required, when you are renting a property.

Any damage claims can be painful and a high level of cover, (we suggest 50 million Euros for a family, less for animals) costs relatively little. Saving by taking out a cheap policy with limited coverage is very much a false economy.

Third-party private liability insurance will not provide cover for anyone driving a car, piloting an aeroplane, or sailing a boat; no cover is provided for hunting. All of these require separate insurance policies.

You should be aware that German third-party private liability insurances with either a three or five year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to buy only annually renewable polices; there is absolutely no reason to take out a policy which leaves you unable to switch at a renewal date if a more attractive or a better quality insurance cover becomes available.

Household Contents or Home Insurance

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Household contents insurance (Hausratversicherung) is necessary to indemnify you for loss of, or damage to your possessions. Included are all belongings contained in your home, such as furniture - including (optionally) built-in kitchen units -, clothing, collectibles, sports equipment, valuables and computers for personal use. Fixtures and fittings attached to the building and not owned by you are generally excluded as these are the responsibility of your landlord or the house owner under their own separate insurance policy.

The coverage includes the risks of fire, burglary, storm damage, water damage and/or vandalism. Coverage outside the premises (for instance, robbery) is often limited up to approximately 10-15% of the total insured sum. The risk of fire, water damage and theft from your home in your absence increases the longer you are away and you must notify your insurer if you intend to leave the premises for longer than 60 days. Some policies also include limited cover for damage caused by electrical surges.

If you are a tenant, you should be aware that your household contents insurance will not cover damages to any rental furniture.

The insurance sum is calculated using the replacement value of all your belongings; if your total household possessions are worth more than 75,000 Euros, there are a number of international insurance companies which offer all-risk coverage which may be of interest to those with art collections, jewellery and other items of considerable value. This cover is more comprehensive than is normal for standard German policies.

Bicycle thefts are a problem in Germany, where so many people use two wheels; additional insurance should be purchased, especially if more than one bicycle is owned or if the iron steed in your possession is especially valuable. Some insurance tariffs include coverage for bicycle theft, but this is by no means universal.

Breakage of window panes can also be insured separately; this is a good idea when the panes of glass are large and costly to repair and especially so when there are young children in the household who are prone to launching their harder possessions without necessarily aiming too consciously.

If you are self-employed and normally work from home, you must insure your office equipment separately.

The premiums for any household insurance cover depend on the area in which you live, the value of your possessions and the benefit levels you wish to have.

You should be aware that German household contents or home insurances with either a three or five year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to buy only annually renewable polices; there is absolutely no reason to take out a policy which leaves you unable to switch at a renewal date if a more attractive or a better quality insurance cover becomes available.

Legal Assistance insurance

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Both the German language and indeed the German legal system are probably radically different from the traditions and experience of most new residents. Misunderstandings or disagreements with employers, landlords, neighbours, local merchants, and tax authorities, not to mention parties involved in a car or perhaps another accident, happen often enough.

Legal assistance insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) could save you significant amounts of money and a lot of personal discomfort. This insurance can help protect your rights and allow you to litigate without having to spend your own money in advance without knowing whether you will win your case and having your legal expenses reimbursed at some later date.

Most people simply cannot afford to take the risk of going to court, especially when they don't understand the language.

The attorneys' and court fees in Germany are based on the amount in dispute. For instance, should you have a dispute with your landlord and need to go to court based on a disputed amount of 4.000 Euros, the court and attorney's fees that will have to be paid in advance can be as high as 4.000 €. If you have legal assistance insurance and your claim is held to be valid by your insurance company, the insurer would take care of any necessary payments.

This insurance covers the costs of your own attorney, court fees, and witnesses, costs of the opposing side if you lose the case and bail outside Germany.

Good insurance will normally cover:

  • Disputes with landlords or neighbours (3 month waiting period)
  • Employment law (3 month waiting period)
  • Unwarranted driver's license loss, traffic accidents and violations
  • Disagreement with the tax authorities (in court cases)
  • Advice on inheritance issues (though not for disputes between beneficiaries)
  • Claims for compensation for damages (personal injury or property)

It should be noted that the legal consultation concerning inheritance and family law is limited and that divorce is not included.

There are specialised policies available for self-employed people or those in senior management positions.

Accidental Death and Disablement insurance

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Insurance which covers death or disablement (Unfallversicherung) is often forgotten or just ignored as it is uncomfortable to think about. It normally pays a lump sum in the event of a valid claim resulting from an accident.

As a rule of thumb, a policy for accidental death or 100% disablement should provide cover for 5-6 times the insured's annual income.

Death is self explanatory, but there is a table of compensation rates for damage to, or loss of individual body parts; for instance, blindness in both eyes could receive compensation of up to 100% of the total insured sum, whereas the loss of a leg up to the knee could result in compensation of up to 50% and the loss of a finger up to 30%.

Many accident insurance policies will also pay benefits in the event of an insured child swallowing a poisonous substance.

This insurance must not be confused with occupational disability, critical illness or income replacement cover. Benefits under an accident insurance policy will not be paid if you become disabled due to an illness.

You should be aware that German accident insurances with a multi-year term cannot be cancelled before the term is up. An insurance agent selling these term contracts will receive a higher commission for locking a client into a multi-year product. Our strong advice is to use only annually renewable accident polices.

Term Life Insurance

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Term Life insurance (Risikolebensversicherung) makes sense for those with a family and/or mortgages, as it will provide a lump sum in the event of an insured person's death by practically any cause. This insurance is inexpensive and the cost is based on the age of the insured at the start of the insurance, the insurance sum itself, the insurance term and the medical history and smoker status of the insured person.

For those with existing term life insurance from their home country, it is important to receive confirmation from your existing insurer that the policy is valid while residing in Germany.

Annual Travel Insurance

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An annual travel insurance policy (Reiseversicherung) offers comprehensive insurance cover for each private (or if you are self employed, also business) trip without the need to purchase a new policy for each journey.

An annual travel insurance policy will normally pay for itself after your second private journey overseas. There are no limits on how often you can travel, with global coverage barring known war zones. You should be aware of the normal maximum duration of each trip which, depending on the chosen tariff, can lie between 31 and 42 days. In the event that you wish to undertake a longer trip, this should be advised to the insurance company in advance.

An annual travel insurance package will normally include the following benefits:

Travel cancellation insurance

Reimbursement of cancellation fees arising from an inability to travel due to an accident or a serious illness. This is normally only worthwhile as a standalone product, for trips which cost at least 500 Euros per person.

Trip curtailment insurance

In case you cannot finish your trip on schedule, any additional costs for the return journey will be reimbursed. You should be aware that depending on the severity of the grounds for curtailing your trip, some insurance companies will also reimburse the value of the unused portion of a curtailed holiday.

Travel health insurance

This will reimburse the costs of necessary medical treatment overseas for acute illnesses as well as any necessary repatriation of the insured in the event of an emergency.

If you are or will be in the German Government Health System, we strongly recommend that you purchase an annual travel health insurance policy which will cover you for emergency hospital and out patient treatment, medically advised evacuation and emergency dental care when outside Germany.

Travel luggage insurance

The present value of your possessions and luggage in the event of a theft or robbery, or the costs arising from damage to or the disappearance of your possessions while being transported, will be reimbursed; up to the maximum limit set within the policy.

The majority of insurance companies offer assistance via their hotlines in case of emergencies.

Insurance Information supplied by Matz-Townsend Finanzplanung. Copyright 2017. All information as per January 2017 - no guarantee for accuracy or completeness. Published with permission from author.
matz@insure-invest.de
www.insure-invest.de

For comprehensive information on Health Insurance, click here

Some Common Words You May Encounter and What They Mean In English

Abmeldung deregistration Angehörige dependents Antragsfrist deadline for application Beitrag premium Beitragsrückerstattung reimbursement of premiums Bezugsberechtigter beneficiary Berufshaftpflicht professional indemnity insurance Betriebskrankenkasse (BKK) company health insurance fund Freibeträge exemptions Freiwillige versicherung voluntary insurance Gesetzliche Krankenkasse statutory health insurance fund Gruppenversicherung group insurance Haftpflichtversicherung liability insurance Hausratversicherung insurance for household items Karenzzeit waiting period Krankenhausbehandlungen hospital care Krankenschein physician's sick notice Krankentagegeld daily sick pay Krankenversicherung health insurance Lebensversicherung life insurance Leistung benefit Mietrechtsschutz legal rent protection Pflegeversicherung long term nursing care insurance Pflichtmitglied compulsory member Prämie premium Rechtsschutzversicherung legal protection insurance Reiseversicherungen travel insurance Rückversicherung reinsurance Selbstbeteiligung coinsurance or deductible Unfallversicherung accident insurance Versicherungsmakler insurance broker (represents the client) Versicherungsvertreter insurance agent (represents the insurance company) Vollversicherung comprehensive insurance

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Not sure about something?

  • About our car insurance
  • Buying your cover
  • About your payment
  • My policy documents
  • Using the car
  • The policy excess
  • No-claims discount
  • Security devices
  • Making a claim
  • Changing your cover

About our car insurance

Who underwrites AA Car Insurance?

We find the best car insurance deal for you by comparing quotes from our hand-picked group of insurers. The insurer who gives you the best value for money on your car insurance will be your underwriter.

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Buying your cover

Can I get motor insurance that starts right now?

Yes. When you buy online or over the phone your car insurance can start immediately.

You'll need a credit or debit card to pay either the full premium or an initial deposit if paying by monthly instalments.

If I don't buy straight away, how long is my quote valid for?

You can future date your quote by up to 60 days. The quoted price remains valid as long as your details remain unchanged.

Do AA Members get a discount on car insurance?

When you get a quote online, confirm that you are an AA Member. You could get a discount when you insure your car with us for the first time, and on subsequent renewals if you remain an AA Member.

My car has modifications – will they affect my insurance quote?

If your car has been modified we can give you an online quote for a maximum of two modifications from the following list:

  • Alloy Wheels.
  • Front Spoiler or Air Dam.
  • Locking Wheel Nuts.
  • Rear Roof Spoiler.
  • Rear Spoiler or Aerofoil.
  • Bull Bars.
  • Dual Control.
  • Hand Controls.

Modifications will affect the quote price, as they present a higher risk than original components.

If your car has more than two modifications, or the modification isn't listed, please call us on 0800 197 7178 – we may still be able to give you a quote.

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About your payment

Can I spread my payments and pay by monthly instalments?

Yes, you can pay by monthly instalments. We'll ask for an initial payment by debit or credit card and the rest of your payment will be made in 11 monthly instalments. Credit will be provided by Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited, and you must be over 18.

How secure is my online payment?

We keep your personal details and your credit or debit card information private and secure when you buy online. We do this by using secure server software that encrypts any information you give us. It takes the characters you enter and converts them into a secret code, which is then securely sent to us.

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My policy documents

How can I access my policy documents online?

Your policy documents are in your My AA account. See the My AA help page for advice on how to access them.

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Using the car

Can I drive abroad with my car insurance?

AA Car Insurance provides the same cover you get in the UK in any EU country for up to 90 days in a year. So as a comprehensive policyholder, you have comprehensive cover when you drive within the EU.

Depending on your insurer, and for an additional premium, you may be able to extend the 90-day period, and be insured in countries outside the EU.

Am I covered for towing caravans or trailers?

When towing a caravan or trailer, you are covered for the costs you are liable to pay if you cause damage to property, or injury or death to someone.

Your car insurance also covers a single-axle trailer, worth up to £500 and kept in a safe and roadworthy condition, while attached to your car. For example, if you have comprehensive insurance, your trailer will also be covered on a comprehensive basis, which includes accidental damage, fire and theft.

When do I need to select business use?

Select business use when you use your car to travel to various places in connection with your work, such as offices or factories. Business use is not required when you travel to a single permanent place of work.

If I do voluntary work, do I need to select business use?

When you only commute to and from one permanent place of voluntary work, then select 'Social, Domestic, Pleasure & Commuting' for the use of your car.

If you travel to more than one place of voluntary work, our panel of insurers has agreed that 'Social, Domestic, Pleasure & Commuting' is also sufficient cover and should be selected.

But if you transport goods or people as part of your voluntary work, then please call 0800 197 7178 for a quote.

Please note, we do not charge an administration fee if you call us to update your policy to show you now do voluntary work.

Our panel of insurers operates under the statement below, issued on the Association of British Insurers website.

"The insurer will insure their policyholders to carry out voluntary driving, that is, the use of a vehicle they own in connection with, or for the benefit of, charities, voluntary organisations, clubs or societies, where payment does not exceed the HMRC mileage rates in force at that time. This does not cover use for hire or reward or vehicles owned by, hired to or lent to the voluntary organisation."

Can I drive other cars?

Yes, our comprehensive policy allows you to drive other vehicles with third-party cover, unless it's specifically excluded by your insurer. If this is excluded, we'll state this when you get a quote. If you've already bought car insurance from us, check your certificate of motor insurance. There are conditions that apply to this benefit, so please view our Car Insurance Policy Booklet for more details.

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The policy excess

What is a policy excess?

An excess is the part of the costs of a claim for loss or damage to your car that you have to pay out of your own pocket. Your insurance will be cheaper if you agree to pay more of these costs yourself. There are two types of policy excess:

Compulsory excess – the insurer will decide how much you'll be asked to pay for each claim before you buy the motor insurance policy. Check that you are comfortable with how much you'll have to pay for each claim before you buy a car insurance policy.

Voluntary excess – the amount you'd be prepared to pay on top of the compulsory amount. The higher you go, the lower your premium.

Can I pay a voluntary excess?

Yes, you can pay a higher voluntary excess for when you make a claim, usually up to £500. Typically, you pay less for your car insurance if you select a higher voluntary excess.

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No-claims discount

What is a no-claims discount?

A no-claims discount is a reward for not making a claim on your motor insurance policy. If you do make a claim, your discount will normally be less at the next renewal if your insurance company cannot get their money back from the person responsible.

Where can I find proof of my no-claims discount?

The renewal or cancellation notice from your previous insurer will contain proof of your no-claims discount.

Can I protect my no-claims discount?

Yes, you can pay an additional premium to protect your no claims discount. Depending on your insurer, you can usually make two 'fault' claims in a 3- or 5-year period without affecting your no claims discount.

What is the AA Uninsured Driver Promise?

If you make a claim following an accident that is not your fault, and the driver of the other vehicle is not insured, you will not lose your no-claims discount or have to pay any excess.

We just ask you to tell us the other vehicle's make, model and valid registration number, so that we can identify the driver of the other vehicle.

Can a named driver earn no claims discount on my policy?

Yes, named drivers over 25 years can earn their own no claims discount to use on an AA policy in the future. See our page about named drivers.

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Security devices

What is a Thatcham security device?

The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre tests car security products for insurers. It's better known as 'Thatcham' after the Berkshire town where it's based. Most insurers like these products and give you discounts if you get them for your car.

What is a tracking device?

The police can track a stolen car with an electronic signal sent by this bit of kit hidden in the car. Most cars that have this are found after they are stolen. You can pay up to 10% less for your motor insurance if your car has a tracking device.

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Making a claim

How do I make a car insurance claim?

Call our 24-hour claim line 0800 269 622.

Before you call, please see how to make a motor insurance claim.

Is a courtesy car included on my policy?

Yes, a courtesy car is available with comprehensive cover. Following an accident, you will be provided with another car while yours is undergoing repair.

When you buy comprehensive cover direct from us, you also get a courtesy car for a total loss claim, where the vehicle is written off or stolen and unrecovered, or for accidents occurring outside the UK.

Is windscreen cover included on my policy?

If you have comprehensive cover, then windscreen cover is included. We cover the windscreen, sunroof and the remaining windows. And your no claims discount is not affected by a windscreen claim.

A windscreen replacement is subject to the applicable excess, but there is no excess to pay on a windscreen repair.

You can check your windscreen replacement excess when you get a quote online. On the quote page a summary of your details includes a link to 'Excess details / policy terms'.

How can I get my windscreen repaired?

Call our 24-hour claim line 0800 269 622 and select option 2.

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Changing your cover

What information is needed to advise a change of vehicle?

Please call 0800 316 1193 and select option 1 to make any change to your policy.

If you have changed your vehicle, we'll need the same type of details as you provided for the previous model, such as registration number, market value and any modifications.

Can vehicles be added temporarily?

Usually yes – call us on 0800 316 1193 and ask to add a temporary additional vehicle (TAV). We'll need to know all the details of the model.

Allowing a TAV is subject to the current insurer accepting the risk. Test drives are not covered.

You can add a TAV from 1 day to 4 weeks, and a cover note will be issued.

We cannot offer insurance where a policy is already in place for the vehicle.

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Buying a Car in Germany

Buying a new or used car in Germany can be a challenge, but there's plenty of help -- if you know where to look for it.

Acig car insurance riyadh militaryThe car-buying experience in Germany can be both exciting and daunting. It can be exciting because there is a very wide number of manufacturers to choose from. It can be daunting because car prices tend to be higher and the whole thing has to be handled in a strange language. But take heart. It is not really that much different from buying a car at home and there are special programs designed with expatriates in mind.

New or Used. Whether you buy a new or used car depends on your circumstances. How long will you be over here? How much money do you want to spend? How many kilometers do you drive? What sort of driving do you do (more autobahn than city driving)?

New cars. There are plenty of sources to help you decide what car you wish to buy, including, among others, television commercials, newspapers and auto magazines. You can usually find someone at the showroom who speaks English, and German law generally prohibits the freewheeling bargaining that is so common in other countries. So, in theory, what you see on the sticker is what you should have to pay for the car.

There are still some ways of getting the price down. Dealers sometimes give discounts for payment in cash. Some dealers register cars for a day and then immediately deregister them. This turns them into "used cars", giving flexibility in pricing. There is also room for negotiation when it comes to the "extras"; sunroof, air conditioning, sound system and other accessories. Another way to lower the cost of a new car is to make sure the dealer gives you a very good price for your trade-in.

If you don't pay cash for a new car (and not many people do) then you will have to finance it. Many manufacturers offer internal finance programs, usually at a slightly better interest rate than a bank. But it pays to check out both possibilities. Interest rates may be better with the manufacturer but the loan may have to be paid back in three years, and you probably can't expect financing for a car that is discounted in any way. Depending on the price, financing can range from 24 to 60 months. The best interest rates are offered when a 20 percent down payment is made.

Used Cars can be a good value if you shop carefully. If you buy a used car through a dealer you can normally expect some sort of guarantee. (According to the German "lemon law", dealerships must honor a one-year warranty for all used cars they sell. They are responsible for defects that are present at the time of sale but not those that result from regular wear and tear or negligence. Defects are normally determined by a third party appraiser.) Some banks and even some dealers may finance used cars, but this is not as easy as with a new cars. Factors such as mileage, age and value are involved.

Good deals can be found if you check into buying a Jahreswagen or a demo model (Vorführwagen). Employees of car manufacturers are allowed to buy cars at a discount and can resell them after keeping them a year (hence the term Jahreswagen.) Normally these cars are in quite good condition and a good value for the money. A Vorführwagen has usually been displayed in the showroom and used for test drives. It's usually in good condition and has low mileage.

If you're adventurous and want to buy a used car from a private owner, the newspapers are full of ads. The key things to look for in the ads are mileage, date of the next inspection (TÜV), date of first registration (Erstezulassung or EZ), model year, type of catalytic converter and number of owners. It is wise to observe the normal precautions when buying a used car privately. In general, though, Germans take good care of their cars and you may find what you want for a good price. It is always good to get a contract when you buy a car. There are boilerplate contracts available.

When you buy a car from a dealer, whether new or used, you can expect help in the registration and insurance areas. If you buy a car privately you will have to do these things yourself. You'll need proof of insurance and proof of ownership of the car (Kfz-Brief). You'll have to take these to the local motor vehicle department (Kfz-Zulassungstelle), and if everything is in order you'll be given your license plates.

Buying a car Online is becoming more and more popular - as well as easier. The advantages of doing this are obvious. You don't have to go to a dealership, the selection is vast and it's possible to search for a car according to a large number of different criteria. The website http://eng.autoscout24.com/index.asp?language=ger offers the online user the opportunity to search for cars in Germany in English.

Auto Insurance

Before a person can register a car in Germany he or she must have proof of third party liability coverage for all damage or injury to another person, car or object. While collision or comprehensive insurance isn't required by law, most institutions financing the purchase of a vehicle do require it. This can raise the insurance bill considerably, and insurance is not cheap in Germany.

There are numerous factors in addition to coverage that influence the insurance price. Beginning drivers pay more than experienced drivers; those driving big, powerful cars pay more than those with more modest vehicles; those living in urban areas pay more than those in rural areas, and those who have been found liable in accidents pay more than those who haven't.

If you have a good driving record in your home country you can get credit for it here. Get a letter from your insurance agent back home. If the German agent says you can't get this credit try another agent.

There is no requirement for a driver to have any but third party liability insurance, but others kinds are available and sometimes advisable. There is full comprehensive, covering all damages or injuries done to your own car, another car or a person or object. There is also partial coverage for fire, theft and other sorts of damage (from break-ins, shattered glass, animals, etc.), and policies covering the death or disability of a passenger. Such policies often have deductibles, meaning you must swallow the cost up to a certain upper limit. These make the insurance less costly.

Rental agencies and institutions financing the purchase of a car often make some sort of collision insurance a condition of the transaction.

Several insurance agents in Germany are geared to getting the expatriate through these complexities. (See our Resources data base) Your agent will issue you, free of charge, an International Green Card as the proof-of-insurance document you need to drive in other European countries.

Liability Insurance Terms

Abschätzung des Schadens appraisal of damage Beitrag premium Kraftfahrzeug motor vehicle Kraftfahrzeug- versicherung automobile insurance Pflichtversicherung compulsory insurance Reparaturkosten cost of repair Sachschaden property damage Schaden damage Totalverlust total loss Unfallentschädigung accident indemnity Versicherungszertifikat certificate of insurance Vollkaskopolice comprehensive policy

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