Private liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung)

It is highly recommended that doctoral candidates and visiting researchers take out a personal liability insurance.

The website “How to Germany” writes: “The most important and yet the least expensive insurance cover you will need in Germany is third-party private liability insurance (Privathaftpflichtversicherung). 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. 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 engaging in sports activities.”

Third-party private liability insurance costs only around 28–50 euro per year, i.e. 2–4 euro per month. The cost of one mensa meal per month could save students literally millions of euros.

Read more about this and all other insurance on “How to Germany”:

Health insurances

You are obliged to take out a health insurance policy that is in line with the scope of services of the statutory health insurances in Germany. As evidence of sufficient private health insurance coverage, the certificate in accordance with the German health insurance regulations according to § 257 Para. 2 a of the Social Code Book V is required (Bescheinigung gem. § 257 Abs. 2 a SGB V).

Doctoral candidates on stipends will have to cover their own health insurance fees. With a statutory health insurance, they will have allow for this 15 % of their scholarship income, i.e. with a scholarship of 1,468 euro health insurance should be available for approx. 220 euro per month. Private health insurances may be cheaper (see below on the difference).

Doctoral candidates employed on a salaried contract must join one ot the statutory health insurances. Of their insurance fee of approx. 15 % oof their income, the employing university/institution will cover roughly 50%.

Statutory or private health insurance?

During their stay in Germany and at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain doctoral candidates on stipends must have health insurance cover. Health insurance is a mandatory insurance in Germany. Doctoral candidates will have to cover their own health insurance fees.

Doctoral candidates can choose between two types of health insurance in Germany: “statutory” and “private” health insurance. The scope of statutory health insurance is defined by law and covers medically necessary treatments that patients then do not have to pay for. All patients have to do is present the doctor or hospital with the chip card provided by your health insurer. Private health insurance companies may have either a smaller or a larger range of services. The invoice initially will have to be paid by the patient and those costs/treatments covered by the insurance agreement will later be reimbursed.

According to the Central Federal Association of Health Insurance Funds almost 90% of Germans are covered by statutory health insurance.

Since private health insurance can offer varying benefits, it is at any rate sensible to check the list of services covered before signing any insurance agreement and to compare it with the list of services covered by statutory insurances. Often it is not possible for doctoral candidates to switch from the health insurance they selected in the first semester to another type of health insurance – from statutory to private health insurance or vice versa – until they  have completed their degree or reached the age of thirty.

Even those international candidates who are covered by health insurance from their home country and have it approved when they enroll may find that switching to German statutory health insurance is no longer possible.

Doctoral candidates can find more information on health insurance here:


Non-EU citizens

Important information supplied by Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) regarding regulations concerning statutory health insurance for foreign scientists from outside the EU (valid at March 2017) who will not be on regular, salaried research contracts:

After examination of their case, doctoral  candidates/visiting researchers from the EU can switch to a statutory health insurance company only if they have been insured by a statutory health insurance company in their home country for at least 12 months. EU citizens provide evidence with the E104 form (certificate showing the aggregation of insurance, employment or residence periods), and Turkish citizens with the AT/11 form.

According to § 5 Para. 11 Clause 1 of the Social Code Book V, compulsory insurance comes into question (according to § 5 Para. 1 No. 13 of the Social Code Book V) if customers already have a settlement permit or a residence permit for a period of more than 12 months for which no guarantee of earnings had to be verified.

Doctoral candidates/visiting researchers from countries outside the EU can attempt to switch to statutory health insurance and apply to one of the statutory health insurance companies.

One new requirement is that applicants fill in a form from the foreigners’ registration office, in which as a rule the registration office will have marked the following statement with a cross: “The guarantee of earnings and adequate health insurance coverage is required for the granting of a residence title for specific purposes.”

This form must be submitted upon application to the TK. Having this cross marked, the applicant may not be accepted by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) statutory health insurance company – the justification is to be found in the Social Code Book V §5 Para.1 Article 13 ( For this reason the probability of being accepted by the TK is virtually zero. (But please check yourself!)

Please note:
The handling of this requirement will probably apply to other statutory insurance companies as well. Please check with them. As a consequence, non-EU citizens may have no other option but get insurance from private health insurers. (But please check yourself.)


This page last updated on: 25 July 2023