Illustration of a hand receiving keys

Private Liability for Tenants


A private liability insurance policy settles claims for damages arising from damage you have caused to a third party. This can be personal injury, damage to property or financial loss. If you live in a rented apartment, it makes sense for you to have private liability insurance that covers damage to rented property.

Damage to rented property is damage that you cause to the permanently installed inventory. This can be parquet or laminate flooring, windows, sanitary facilities, tiles or built-in cupboards. Especially when moving in, there is a high risk of accidentally damaging doorways, windows or similar with a heavy piece of furniture.

In this article you will learn everything you need to know about private liability insurance as a tenant. We will answer the most important questions - and we will stand by your side in case of damage!

Do I need a special liability insurance as a tenant?

You are not obliged to take out liability insurance as a tenant. Your landlord can neither force you to do so nor can they contractually oblige you to do so. However, a private liability insurance that includes damage to rented property makes sense for you if you live in a rented accommodation. After all, your rented property does not only include the empty living space. You also rent the fixtures and fittings.

Permanently installed rental objects:

  • Floors with carpeting, parquet, laminate, tiles or planks
  • Sanitary facilities such as washbasin, toilet, bathtub and shower cubicle
  • Doors and windows
  • Fitted kitchen
  • Built-in cupboards

All of these things can be damaged by accident or carelessness. If you are not covered by liability insurance, you must pay for the repair or replacement out of your own pocket. This can also be expensive in the event of damage to property.

Even if you are a prudent and careful person: small accidents happen quickly.

Here are a few examples of typical claims that your private liability insurance will cover:

  • When you move in, you and a removal man carry bulky cupboard units up the stairs to your new home. Although you are careful, the bulky parts bang against walls and doors. Before you know it, you have a scratch on your door frame.
  • Your cat loves to knock things off the cupboard. When you're on the phone, she pushes your heavy plunger off the sideboard. When it hits the floor, it damages several tiles.
  • You have an appointment and are in a hurry. In the rush, the perfume bottle slips out of your hand in the bathroom and leaves a crack in the sink.

You are on the safe side with a private liability insurance, which also covers damage to rented property.


Why is liability insurance useful for me as a tenant?

If you cause damage, your private liability insurance will take care of the settlement. It will cover the claims for damages for you. If you don't have liability insurance, you are liable with all your assets. This can also be expensive in the event of property damage, for example if your rented apartment burns down completely because of a forgotten candle or a defective lithium-ion battery.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between damage caused by wear and tear and damage by accident or negligence to a rented property. As a tenant, you are not liable for wear and tear. After all, you pay your rent regularly for the normal use of the apartment and the fixtures and fittings. When you move out, your landlord will inspect your apartment when you hand over the keys. If he notices any defects, this can lead to disputes. Your landlord has the right to claim damages up to six months after the end of your tenancy.

At this point, you will benefit several times over from a private liability insurance policy that also covers damage to rented property.

  • Your private liability insurance first checks whether you are liable for the damage caused in the rented accommodation or whether it is wear and tear and normal signs of wear and tear.
  • If you have indeed caused damage to the rented property, it will settle the claim.
  • If the claims made against you are unjustified, your liability insurance will refuse the claims. If legal proceedings are instituted against you, you will benefit from so-called "passive legal protection" - your insurer will pay the court costs, the costs of your legal assistance and any necessary experts.

Which rental damages are covered by my personal liability insurance?

If you live in a rented apartment, you also rent the fixtures and fittings. Fitted kitchen, sanitary facilities, windows and doors: all this is the property of your landlord. He will let you use the apartment and the corresponding rental objects temporarily, during your tenancy.

If you damage anything, you have to pay for the damage. In this case, your personal liability insurance will cover the damage to your rented property.

Damage to these fixed rented items is usually settled:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Walls
  • Floors such as parquet flooring, laminate, planks or tiles,Böden wie Parkettböden, Laminat, Dielen oder Fliesen
  • Sanitary facilities such as washbasins, bathtubs, shower cabins and toilets,Sanitäranlagen wie Waschbecken, Badewannen, Duschkabinen und Toiletten
  • Built-in cupboardsEinbauschränke

If you also use a garage, a shed or outdoor area, make sure you check whether your private liability insurance will also apply there in the event of a claim.


Which damages are covered by my household insurance?

Your household insurance covers damage to your personal belongings. Only movable objects are insured.

The household contents include:

  • Your home furnishings like cabinets, shelves, beds, TVs and sofas.
  • Valuables such as jewellery, savings books, works of art, real carpets and antiques.
  • Utility items such as kitchen appliances, crockery, tools and clothing.
  • Consumables such as drinks and food.
  • Private objects in holiday apartments, hotels and at work.

The responsibilities are sometimes difficult to distinguish.

As a rule of thumb, remember the following: Liability insurance covers damage to fixed rented property that does not belong to you. Household contents insurance takes care of damage to your personal property, i.e. movable objects. Let’s take a look at an example:

Suppose you live with your boyfriend in a domestic community. You are officially registered at the same address and have joint insurance policies, including liability and household insurance. During your birthday party he accidentally knocks over a bottle of red wine. It falls to the floor and scratches the parquet floor. The red stains can no longer be removed from the floor covering.

Your Home Contents insurance is not responsible for this, as it is not a damage to your movable personal items. You would have to report this damage to your private liability insurance, provided that damage to rented property is included in your insurance policy. This is self-inflicted property damage to an immovable rental property. You have therefore caused damage to a third party (your landlord).


There is water dripping from the ceiling onto my furniture. How do I behave correctly?

As a tenant of a rented apartment, you have so-called custody and damage control obligations. That means it's your responsibility to take care of the apartment and prevent or minimise damage.

Try to keep the damage as small as possible. If water drips from the ceiling onto your furniture, the floor will probably not remain unscathed.

1. Damage limitation

First place a bucket or bowl under the dripping spots. This will help to keep the water away from your furniture.

2. Inform tenants and landlords

Notify the tenant in the apartment below you (if any) that damage has occurred in your apartment so that they can inform the relevant insurance company. You should also inform your landlord about the damage.


Are rental damages abroad also covered by my personal liability insurance?

Yes, your insurance coverage with Coya continues indefinitely if you are staying in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein and rent an apartment there. If you cause damage to your rented property there, it is covered by your liability insurance.

Outside of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, your insurance cover is valid for up to 5 years.

Please note that your insurance coverage ends as soon as you move your main residence outside of Germany.


Is the loss of my house keys covered by my private liability insurance?

If you lose your house keys, either because you lose them on the way or because they have been stolen by a third party, in many cases your liability insurance will cover the loss. Be sure to check the respective inclusions (insured damages) and exclusions (uninsured damages) in advance. These differ from one insurer to another.

Coya insures keys that you legally have with you for private, professional, official or honorary reasons or in the context of an association activity. Code cards are also considered as keys.

Your private liability insurance replaces lost keys and, if necessary, covers the costs for the replacement of the locking system. It also covers temporary measures such as the installation of an emergency lock and the costs of guarding the building until the locking system is replaced.

However, if you lose your key to a central locking system, your own damage will be deducted from the total amount. You will have to pay for this yourself (own damage).


Which rental damages are not covered by my personal liability insurance?

Damage caused by wear and tear is not covered by your liability insurance. If you live in an apartment, it leaves traces of wear and tear on the walls and floors. This can be discolouration on wallpaper - where furniture has stood, the wall surfaces are usually brighter. Abrasion on walls or on the floor also occurs during normal use of the living space. You do not have to pay for this. After all, you pay rent. This covers the costs of wear and tear.

You are allowed to drill holes and put dowels in the walls, unless it is expressly forbidden in your rental agreement. These damages are not covered by your private liability insurance. If you drill holes in the wall because you are adding something very complex, you must restore the wall to its original condition when you move out.

Your liability insurance primarily covers damage to the building and to permanently installed rental objects.

If your landlord provides you with furnished accommodation, however, bed, cupboards, chairs and the like are excluded from your private liability insurance. If you damage anything, your landlord may retain a part of your deposit when you move out. Neither your liability nor your Home Contentsinsurance will cover these damages.

The hot water and heating systems are also excluded from private liability in most cases.

Glass damage, for example to windows, conservatories and aquariums, is still not considered damage to rented property. Accordingly, they are not included in the private liability insurance. Household contents insurance policies often offer the option of taking out separate glass breakage insurance. This can be a useful supplement if you have children.

Illustration of a person with a light bulb beside their head

Which rental damages are not covered by private liability insurance?

  • Damage due to wear and tear
  • Damage caused by the normal use of the rented accommodation (for example, boreholes)
  • Damage to your own property brought into the apartment
  • Movable leased assets
  • Hot water and heating system
  • Glass damage
  • Damage due to mold formation

Is damage in the stairwell or basement covered by my private liability insurance?

Yes, damage in your staircase or basement is also covered.


Are gradual damages covered by my private liability insurance?

Damage caused by gradualness is often only discovered after a delay. This can take weeks, months or even years. The claims for damages are correspondingly high. Progressive damage includes damage caused by the influence of temperature, smoke, soot, dust or water.

Gradual damage is not considered to be damage to rented property.

Not all insurers include gradual damage in their policies, as they are not obliged to include this benefit. It is therefore advisable to go through the policy documents at your leisure before taking out your personal liability insurance. In some cases, gradual damage can also be insured for an additional charge. Here is an example:

Suppose you want to hang up a picture and drill a hole in the wall. You do not notice that you have accidentally damaged a water pipe slightly. At the corresponding place water leaks unnoticed by you for weeks. At some point you discover that the wall has a damp spot.

Illustration of a person with a light bulb beside their head

What is gradual damage?

Gradual damage is damage to property that does not immediately become apparent. It only becomes apparent gradually - bit by bit.

Often, gradual damage is caused by:

  • Moisture (also mineral oils) and precipitation (rain, snow, hail)
  • Gas and vapours
  • Smoke, soot and dust
  • Temperature

It is not clearly defined after how long a damage is considered to be gradual damage.

Case law considers the following periods to be sufficient:

  • Three years in case of dampness because an excavator destroyed a power cable
  • Six months with temperature exposure to a fireclay wall
  • Four to five weeks exposure to moisture due to incorrect installation, which leads to the discarding of a parquet floor
  • Four days if the room temperature drops, which freezes the heating system (controversial).

Are water damages covered by my private liability?

That depends. For water damage to your home, either your personal liability insurance or your Home Contents insurance will cover it.

In simple terms:

  • If you cause water damage to your home and damage your property, you must report the damage to your Home Contents insurance.
  • If the water damage causes damage to your landlord's property or if the water runs into neighbouring flats, the liability insurance company is responsible for settling the property damage.

What benefits should I, as a tenant look out for in my liability insurance?

It is important that damage to rented property is covered by your private liability insurance.

Many German private liability insurances also cover damage to rented property that happens to you during your holiday. Because even if you only use a property for a short time, there is a risk of accidentally causing damage there.

These include:

  • Vacation rentals
  • Holiday homes
  • Hotel and Motel rooms
  • Rooms in retirement communities.

As a tenant, am I obliged to clear and grit the snow in winter? Who is liable in case of black ice accidents?

In principle, property owners and landlords are responsible for clearing the snow in winter and gritting the pavements. The property itself, as well as the adjacent public footpaths, must be free of snow and ice in accordance with road safety regulations. This is to reduce the risk of passers-by falling and injuring themselves.

However, your landlord can transfer the obligation to clear the snow to you. Check whether you are obliged to carry out winter road maintenance according to your tenancy agreement. If this is the case, your landlord as owner has the duty to check whether you are fulfilling your duty.

If he forgets this check, he may be liable for damages if someone is injured in a fall on the black ice because you have not fulfilled your gritting and clearing duties. If you are travelling during the onset of winter, you must see to it that someone else removes the snow and grits the paths for you.


Are my pets also insured?

Tame pets such as cats, rabbits, hamsters or guinea pigs are included in your private liability insurance. If they cause damage, your private liability insurance will cover it.

The situation is different with dogs. For them you need a separate liability insurance for pet owners (like Coya's Dog Liability insurance).

Are my pets also insured, even if they are not tolerated by the landlord?

Damage caused by the insured pets to the tenant's property are insured even if the landlord does not tolerate them.

Are rental damages caused by my dog covered by my liability insurance?

No. If your dog causes damage to the permanently installed inventory, you must pay for the settlement of the damage yourself. This rental damage is not covered by your liability insurance. For this you will need liability insurance for pet owners.


How can I, as a tenant save on my liability insurance?

If you live in the same household as your partner, you can take out private liability insurance for both of you at the family rate. This is cheaper than if each of you has a single insurance policy. If you have children or other people living in the same household and are registered with the authorities at the same address, the insurance cover automatically applies to them as well.

Let us assume you are married and have a 12-year-old daughter. Your mother also lives with you. Then you can insure the four of you with Coya at the family rate.


How much is a personal liability insurance for me as a tenant?

For a single liability insurance, which insures an individual against the financial consequences of property damage, personal injury and financial loss, the usual market price is between €30 and €120 per year.

With Coya you can get a single private liability insurance from €47.99 per year. If you live with other people in the same household, a private liability insurance at family rates is the right choice. These start from €64.99 per year at Coya.


How much should my sum insured be?

It is recommended to set the sum insured as high as possible. Imagine a fire in your rented apartment due to an inattention. In the worst case, the damage is so severe that your sum insured is not sufficient to cover all costs. In this scenario you have to pay the difference yourself, so the higher (and more realistic) you set it the better.