Many car policies are unnecessarily expensive. This can be avoided in the next few weeks – with little effort. BÖRSE ONLINE explains what you should pay attention to now. From Martin Reim
Vot many motorists could save a lot on their car insurance, sometimes several hundred euros a year. All they have to do is be willing to change insurers. If you want to do this by January 1st, you have to cancel your insurance by November 30th at the latest. Otherwise the contract is automatically extended by one year.
Insured persons should therefore check in the coming weeks whether they can cancel (the relevant information can be found in the insurance documents) and whether the premium is too high. Sometimes the established insurer also gives a discount if you present them with a cheaper offer from a competitor.
Many people willing to switch use the price comparison on online portals such as verivox.de or check24.de. A comparison test between € uro am Sonntag (the financial magazine appears like BÖRSE ONLINE in the Finanz Verlag) and the German customer institute showed that check24.de is the best portal in this context. A search mask supports research according to individual needs. But be careful: not every motor insurer can take out policies there. HUK-Coburg and Allianz, the second in the industry, are missing, as are their parent brands and the online labels HUK24 and Allianz Direct (the subsidiary was called Allsecur until a year ago). The insurer LVM, after all number 5 in the industry, is left out.
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Main reason for the absence: Insured persons who are referred to the insurance industry by comparison portals are more expensive for the providers than those customers who take out direct contracts. This is due to the commissions that the portals charge from the companies. They are higher in the network than with local agents. On the other hand, more and more policies are being taken out online. This has been putting pressure on insurers’ margins for years.
Good to know: the portals are not neutral. As brokers, you live off the companies’ commissions. Possibly they flush alleged “price-performance winners” to number 1 in the ranking list. Presets such as a – in principle unnecessary – passenger accident insurance can also distort the search result, warents Stiftung Warentest. The consumer website finanztip.de recommends using two portals and an additional direct insurer that is not listed in parallel.
Caution: Many consumers will have driven less than usual in the car this year due to the Corona lockdown in spring. You shouldn’t put this reduced number of kilometers into account for 2021, but rather the average mileage of previous years. Otherwise you have to register with the insurer next year if you drive as much (or even more) as usual – otherwise the insurer may make additional claims or, in the worst case, the protection may be completely lost. By the way: If you drove less in 2020 due to Corona than you specified as mileage in the contract, you can already claim back premiums from many insurers (see box on the right).
Which protection is the right one? With old cars it is often enough to just take out a motor vehicle liability policy. Consumer advocates recommend that a vehicle should be fully comprehensive insurance for at least the first three years, while after about ten years even partial comprehensive insurance is no longer absolutely necessary. The Association of Insureds (BdV) recommends a deductible of 150 euros in partial insurance and a maximum of 500 euros in fully comprehensive insurance in order to reduce the contributions.
LIABILITY: It is required by law and covers damage to the opposing accident victim. The occupants of your own vehicle are also protected. The driver himself and damage to his own car are not covered. The policy also works like legal protection insurance because it protects against unjustified claims by third parties. Caution: Although the companies regulate accidents caused by alcohol and drugs, they will try to get the money back from the insured. The statutory minimum coverage is 7.5 million euros for personal injury, one million euros for property damage and 50,000 euros for financial loss (for example if the injured party misses a flight and compensation is due). But one should go far beyond that. We recommend at least 50 million euros for personal injury and ten million euros for property damage. Other important criteria are:
– Mallorca Policy: This option increases the coverage for rental cars in other European countries to the German level. The Mallorca policy usually does not cost a surcharge.
– Late notification: up to what amount does the insurer settle a loss that the insured person wants to bear himself but then submits late?
– Violation of the pre-contractual obligation to notify: What additional payment is due if the customer has provided incorrect information in the application, for example if the actual average mileage is higher than specified?
PARTIAL INSURANCE: It pays if your own car is stolen or damaged for certain reasons, for example if hail leaves traces in the paintwork or a branch falls on the car in a storm. Glass breakage and cable damage due to short circuits are also included. Other important criteria are:
– Marten bites: Damage to hoses and wiring and their consequences. With some insurers, however, the amounts that can be reimbursed are limited.
– Extension of natural hazards: Which hazards are insured as basic protection in addition to floods? Generous insurers also pay for avalanches, roof avalanches, earthquakes, landslides, mudslides or rockfalls.
FULLY INSURANCE: It pays if your own car is damaged through your own fault or if a third party deliberately damages the vehicle. Partial coverage is also included. Other important criteria are:
– Wildlife damage clause: As a rule, only collisions with wild animals are insured, for example with wild boar, deer and hares. However, the policy should apply to all animals, including birds, dogs, cats and horses.
– Compensation for new value: within what period after a new purchase is the entire new price replaced in the event of a total loss? Good policies still work after 18 months.
– Purchase value compensation: Within what period of time after the used purchase is the entire purchase price replaced? Here are 14 months with high-performance providers.
– Gross negligence: Usually the insurer does not pay if the customer drives over a red light and has an accident. Therefore, the provider should forego the so-called objection of gross negligence. Caution: this is not a carte blanche. The driver still has to be blamed for particularly gross mistakes, such as leaving the key in the car in the event of theft or accidents under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
TELEMATICS: The telematics tariffs are a special topic. The driving behavior is measured using built-in technology and included in the premium calculation. Allianz has already sold a six-digit number of these contracts. According to a spokeswoman, the BdV generally advises against such offers: “It is not clearly understandable which driving behavior reduces the premium to what extent.” Also, the telematics tariffs are not always cheaper than traditional policies, even with favorable driving behavior. Another counter-argument: “With telematics, you reveal a lot of data and should therefore critically question which regulations are agreed here.”
Due to the corona pandemic, road traffic has decreased significantly at times. Accordingly, fewer accidents have happened so far in 2020 and motor insurers are recording significantly less damage than in previous years. Example: A commuter who drives 15 kilometers to work drives an estimated 5000 kilometers less per year due to lockdown and home office. The consumer website finanztip.de has calculated on the basis of real tariffs that a lower mileage of 5000 kilometers saves around ten percent premium.
A survey conducted by the portal among 30 providers showed that all participants reimburse contributions on request if the mileage is less than specified in the contract. The catch: Nine insurers only reduce the premium from the time the customer reports – and not retrospectively. These include numbers 3 to 5 on the market, namely AXA, VHV / Hannoversche Direkt and LVM. The majority also pays retrospectively, including the industry leaders HUK-Coburg / HUK24 and Allianz / Allianz Direct. The HUK also held out the prospect of sending credits in an undisclosed amount in the coming year. Requirements: damage-free driving in 2020 and a contract for 2021.
How do you get the refunds? First compare the mileage in the contract with the kilometers actually driven. Then contact your car insurance company in writing. Important: Have the new mileage as well as the amount and time of the premium adjustment confirmed. Contact by e-mail is preferable to a letter – then, in case of doubt, you will receive a confirmation immediately.