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Find Lawyers in Germany for Insurance Law

Practice Area Overview

German insurance law covers the entirety of all legal standards, regulations and provisions relating to insurance-matters.

Private insurance law regulates the contractual relations between policyholders, insured persons and insurers. The legal provisions are codified in the Insurance Contract Act (Versicherungsvertragsgesetz) and in several special supplementary rules.

The insurance supervisory system is of a public-law nature, regulated by the Insurance Supervision Act (Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz).

The German Insurance Contract Act from 1908 was originally aligned to the benefit of the insurer. In 2008, it was fundamentally reformed with a clear focus on consumer protection. Insurance companies are subject to supervision by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht, In Germany, insurance business may only be operated if the company is authorized by the supervisory authority or by regulatory bodies of other Member States of the European Union. Furthermore, there is a legal entity requirement for insurance companies in Germany.

German insurance law system distinguishes between compulsory and voluntary insurance. The most important types of compulsory insurance are social insurance (unemployment insurance, pension insurance, health care and health insurance) and liability insurance (motor vehicle liability insurance, business liability and professional liability insurance). The most common types of voluntary insurance are private liability insurance, private health insurance, life insurance, household insurance, accident insurance, legal expenses insurance.

In addition to German law, European law plays a decisive role. The European Union issues a wide range of directives and regulations to harmonize insurance law in EU Member States. For example, several directives concerning life insurance authorize insurers to operate across borders without needing a separate permission in that Member State. The directive on insurance mediation was significantly aligned with consumer protection and was implemented in different national laws. Insurance intermediaries require permission from the Chamber of Commerce ( to sell policies. Licensed insurance intermediaries are registered in a public database ( and have to take out professional indemnity insurance. The violation of these particular principles regulated by Trade Regulation Act (Gewerbeordnung) will be subject of legal sanctions. Moreover, the authorization can be subsequently withdrawn from insurance intermediaries, for example, when they do no longer have the required reliability. There is a strict legislation for insurance intermediaries concerning information, advisory and documentation duties. A violation of the abovementioned obligations will lead to liability and redress.

The local bar associations are authorized to appoint specialists in insurance law. These specialists have to prove theoretical and practical skills in insurance law.

Legal disputes between policyholder and insurer are not necessarily carried out at court. In Germany arbitration boards, such as the Ombudsman for Insurance (, are able to settle legal disputes between the policyholder and the insurer at low cost.

The umbrella organization of private insurers in Germany is the General Association of the German insurance industry (

Michael Bayr
Fachanwalt für Versicherungsrecht Mattil & Kollegen
Related Practice Areas: Financial Institutions
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