When it comes to getting health insurance, most people go the easy route: a quick Google search and then a virtually random choice. But it’s not exactly the best or most cost-effective way. Mirja Lundehn of KLforExpats explains why you should consider working with an independent broker.
We all know that finding the best and most cost-effective health insurance in Germany can be a difficult and confusing maze of information. If you are new to the country or don’t speak much German, this can be an even bigger challenge!
So when it comes to finding the best health insurance for your needs and budget, where should you look and what types of platforms and services are the most cost-effective and reliable? Is it possible to find the best cover yourself? Would going directly to the best providers help? What is the difference between an independent broker and an insurance agent and why seeking the support of an experienced independent broker may be your best bet?
When researching a health insurance package, most people will turn to one of the following sources of information:
- Search engine
- Price comparators
- Health insurance providers
- Independent health insurance brokers
In this article, we explore the pros and cons of each of these different methods and explain what you should be aware of when using them.
Taking the time to do your own research on the internet is a great way to get an idea of the different health insurance options out there. You might even be able to use expat sites and forums to learn about other people’s experiences in a situation similar to yours.
However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the complexity and various details of different health insurance plans, and to spot unpleasant (and potentially costly!) surprises that you might have missed in the fine print. It should also be considered that what is written on the Internet is not necessarily always verified or up to date, so you should focus your research on reputable sites and cross-reference all information to ensure that it is reliable.
Online price comparison portals
Price comparison websites like Check24 simply work by scouring the internet for information and generating health insurance quotes based on details you enter into the system, such as your occupation and income.
These platforms can be useful to get a first understanding of what is out there and which companies tend to charge cheaper and higher rates, but, because they do not offer personalized services and do not take into account your specific needs – since search results are only based on generic information – you may not get the most comprehensive coverage at the best price.
Health insurance providers
You also have the option of contacting the health insurers themselves directly. This may be the best way to find out exactly what the company offers for your personal situation, and at what price.
However, of the 40+ providers available, not all insure expatriates and internationals. Of those that do, many don’t communicate or offer customer service in English, which makes it tricky if your German is still not very fluent. Additionally, speaking directly to health insurance providers or an agent linked to a company means that you may not receive neutral and unbiased advice, as each provider will be looking to sell their own products.
Independent health insurance brokers
Brokers, on the other hand, work directly with you to understand your needs and advise you on the best options based on your situation, lifestyle and future plans. Rather than being tied to a single health insurance company, brokers compare different health insurance policies from several different providers to give you unbiased advice tailored to your situation. Even better, asking for a broker’s opinion is completely free.
While brokers are paid by health insurance providers, not the consumer, an ethical broker will always offer fair advice since they are not tied to a specific provider. A reputable, independent broker will typically work with at least 10 or more providers to ensure you have access to a variety of options that meet your needs. The bottom line? Agents work for providers, but brokers choose the best plan in the best interest of the consumer.
An English-speaking broker can negotiate the terms on your behalf if you do not speak German. They will also provide you with ongoing support if you need to adjust or optimize your health insurance plan if your situation changes or you have a problem with your provider.
In the long run, this will give you peace of mind and save you time and money. You don’t want to choose a plan that could cost you hundreds more in premiums every month!
The bottom line
Ultimately, the best approach to finding the best health insurance is a mixture of the above – of course, do your own research and have a few possible providers in mind, but consulting an independent broker means you benefit from a second set of your eyes – and some expert advice – when you make your final decision.
Remember to make sure you are talking to a genuine independent broker or adviser and not a health insurance agent, who is usually tied to one or two health insurance companies and may not necessarily have your best interest in the mind.
If you want to know more about working with a broker, contact KLforExpats. With 25 years of industry experience, KLforExpats offers a friendly, English-speaking and completely free service. Whether you are new to Germany, looking to relocate, want to change providers or simply have questions about your health insurance, they can help!