Insurance - Stay with a Scholarship
If your stay in Germany is based on a fellowship and not an employment contract you will usually be exempt from statutory social security contributions. You must ensure that you have adequate health insurance cover. Barring certain extremely exceptional cases, you will have to take out private insurance cover. As private comprehensive insurances are very expensive, many providers offer special tariffs for international researchers who are only staying for the duration of a research visit. The services and tariffs contained in these contracts are different from those of private comprehensive insurances and should not be confused with them. Whilst the latter are much more comprehensive, they are also considerably more expensive. It is very important to note that most costs incurred for illness predating the stay in Germany will not be covered.
Fellows registered at university are covered by statutory accident insurance. If, however, you are neither enrolled at a university nor have an employment contract, you may not be insured by the university and may have to arrange your insurance cover yourself. It is, therefore, advisable to find out well in advance whether statutory accident insurance applies to you.
As you do not have an employment relationship you will usually not be liable for statutory social security payments. In order to avoid gaps in your pension contributions during the fellowship period you can pay voluntary contributions to the "Deutsche Rentenversicherung" (statutory pension scheme). The "Deutsche Rentenversicherung" will advise you on the matter.
EU citizens should initially enquire with their health insurance provider at home whether their domestic insurance cover will continue to be valid during the stay in Germany. If this is the case, you can choose a German statutory health insurance provider as a representative to settle the costs of any doctors' visits with your domestic provider.
If it is not possible to continue being insured with your domestic health insurance provider, you have the choice of either registering voluntarily with a statutory health insurance provider in Germany or taking out a private travel and comprehensive insurance. Particularly if you are only making a short visit, you can also use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when consulting a doctor.
To facilitate treatment during temporary visits abroad, every health insurance scheme is obliged to issue its members with a European Health Insurance Card. In case of illness in another EU country or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, medical services are provided according to the laws of the host country an reimbursed according to the charges applying there.
The EHIC only has limited scope which means it is advisable to take out an additional insurance if you are staying for a longer period of time. The European Health Insurance Card is, for example:
- only valid for essential medical services (the relevant doctor will decide what is essential)
- not valid for trips abroad specifically for the purpose of treatment
- not valid for the cost incurred in transporting an invalid home.
Advice on pension schemes
You can contact the "Deutsche Rentenversicherung" in the city of Essen and Duisburg for advice on pension schemes.
Further information on statutory accident insurance at universities can be found in this brochure: