Living in Austria For Members

How to understand Austria's public liability insurance for property damage

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
How to understand Austria's public liability insurance for property damage
Public liability insurance in Austria covers you if you damage someone else's property. Photo by Laura Rivera on Unsplash

Austria is known for being a country obsessed with insurance coverage. But do you really have to be insured in case you damage someone else's property? We break down the very long word and culture of "Haftpflichtversicherung" for foreigners.


What are we talking about here?

Let's say you're at a friend's house and you spill coffee on their laptop, causing it to break. Or you accidentally scratch a car with your bike. Perhaps you've caused damage to someone by accidentally tripping them up. 

These are all nightmare scenarios. But in many places you wouldn't think about having insurance to deal with them. Step forward Austria. 

German has a very long word called Privathaftpflichtversicherung (it sounds like this) - or private liability insurance - and it can cover the cost of many of these types of situations.

Do I need it in Austria?

For many foreigners, hearing about this insurance is a culture shock. It simply doesn't exist in lots of places. 

It's important to note that it's not mandatory, unlike health insurance or motor vehicle liability insurance, but many Austrians would argue that - yes, you do need it. 

READ ALSO: What kind of insurance do I need to have in Austria?

According to various consumer organizations and chambers of commerce, private liability insurance is an "absolute essential."

So if you are spending a significant amount of time in Austria, it's definitely worth getting it. Some rental contracts also require that you have it when you submit your application documents.


What does it actually cover?

So let's go into a bit more detail. If, for example, you cause an accident as a cyclist and injure other people, you will have to foot the bill for treatment costs, any loss of earnings, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and possibly other costs.

This can lead to people running into financial problems unless they have the insurance to cover it. According to Austrian law, you are liable for all damages that you have caused to someone else, and there's no limit to how much that can cost. This is the case even if you didn't mean to cause an accident.

Liability insurance may cover things like window damage - for example if you accidently kick a ball through a window. Image by Paul Barlow from Pixabay

You'll need to check how much is covered, as any damage amounts that are above the covered amount remain your responsibility to pay.

You can get coverage for just yourself, your partner, or your whole family.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The Austrian insurance for if you get sued - or want to sue someone


One of the terms in most policies is the "Gefahren des täglichen Lebens" - hazards of everyday life. This refers to dangers that a person can face in their private life. For example, coverage is provided if the duty of road safety has been violated because snow has not been cleared on the pavement.

You can also opt for extras. 

These can include damage to rented property, loss of someone else's private or professional keys, insuring someone else's dog, and operating drones. 

Public liability insurance can save you from huge out of pocket expenses if you damage property - even unwittingly. Photo: Pxabay

So how much should you be covered for?

Most current liability insurance plans in Austria cover somewhere between €1 million and €10 million in damages. Some more expensive plans may offer more, while some older plans may cover less.

People should also think about whether they need a 'single' or 'family tariff' which will cover more family members. 

How much does it cost?

Liability insurance plans can vary quite a bit in cost in Austria depending on what you want. A basic plan covering damages into the millions might be around €40 to €50 a year, while a plan covering €30 million in damages might be €75 or so a year.

Top of the line plans with plenty of coverage can go for over €100 a year.


Isn't this all a bit paranoid?

It may sound a bit over the top and as if Austrians are living their lives in fear of something dangerous happening. But Austrians do tend to like stability, so it could be that simply having this insurance is a layer of protection that keeps things in order if anything happens. 

And the fact is that the culture for private liability insurance is strong. One survey found 68 percent of people in Austrian have some form of coverage.

Useful vocabulary:

Are you covered by liability insurance? - Sind Sie privat haftpflichtversichert?

My liability insurance can cover this accident - Meine Haftpflichtversicherung kann diesen Unfall abdecken.

I'm so sorry for this accident. I have private liability insurance - Dieser Unfall tut mir sehr leid. Ich habe eine private Haftpflichtversicherung.



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