Alongside private liability insurance, occupational incapacity insurance (German: BUV) is one of the most important types of insurance policy. It is a must for anyone who relies on his or her earned income. Unexpected accidents can result in a person losing their ability to work for an extended period of time and long-term sickness can also force people to give up their work prematurely.
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Why incapacity insurance at work is so importantThe term "occupational incapacity" is usually associated with long-term impairment of a person's ability to work due to sickness, an accident or disability, as confirmed by a doctor. No one can protect himself or herself against that risk, though it can be guarded against financially. Although the risk of a person losing their capacity to work statistically decreases the higher their level of qualification, sufficient protection against occupational incapacity is also important for academics, as they too can fall so ill or suffer such a serious accident that they are unable to continue working for a long period of time. What's more, highly qualified occupational activities are increasingly associated with mental ailments.
Closing the gaps in your coverThe need to take out occupational incapacity insurance can, depending on the country and your occupational status, also depend on the extent to which cash benefits you receive also cover the risk of occupational incapacity or disability. These benefits may include statutory pension schemes or accident insurance. If those payments are insufficient to allow you to maintain your standard of living until you reach the statutory pensionable age, pension provision gaps arise, which can usually only be closed with a private disability insurance policy.
Needs-based protection for young academics and PhD studentsFrom the point of view of the insurance companies, academics who predominantly perform office work represent a smaller risk than people who perform manual work. As a result, the premiums that academics have to pay for their occupational incapacity coverage are lower. As in the case of any private personal insurance, the premium also depends on the individual's state of health. The three criteria age, health and occupation are often the most important variables. If the need arises, the insurer ultimately pays out an occupational incapacity pension until the end of the contract.
The best tariffs for academicsOccupational incapacity insurance follows the rule that the older a person is when they apply, the more expensive the premium is. As a rule, insurers impose add-ons for previous illnesses, which are also reflected in the cost of the premium. In the most serious cases, the company can completely refuse to accept the application. However, a person who seeks appropriate protection when he or she is still a student or is entering the job market gains several advantages - on the one hand, they benefit from lower premiums, provided that they are in good health, and on the other, young people often pay less over the entire term of the insurance than if they had signed the contract at a later time.
Are incapacity insurance contracts valid abroad?More and more frequently academics, particularly young ones, work abroad. Those who are planning to work abroad should, therefore, look for contracts that provide worldwide insurance coverage. Academics that contemplate working abroad for longer periods, for example as a guest researcher at a German University, would then also be insured against incapacity. Depending on the destination country, there are different acceptance conditions for the insurance policies. However, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland similar levels apply. However, there may be differences outside the European Union. Also of key significance is whether the time spent abroad will be long-term or short-term. In any case, people who intend to work abroad should obtain information directly from the insurer in advance to avoid surprises in the event of a claim.
Further information (in German)
Consumer Advice Centres (NRW):
The German Association of Insured Persons:
1A Verbraucherportal (Consumer portal):
Stiftung Warentest (product testing foundation):
Further information (in English)1. »
:: January 2013
2. October 2017
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)
2. November 2017
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)