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by Uwe Schmidt-Kasparek, Euro on Sunday
Wat the Swedish furniture and odds and ends store Ikea, he only thinks of Billy shelves, Vimle sofas, Malm chests of drawers, Poang swivel armchairs and tea lights as a fix purchase, is not up to date. Not only because there are also Knappa lamps, for example , Svallerup carpets, permanent duzen as well as plenty of coffee in the Kötbullar restaurant, but because insurance has recently become part of the repertoire – not yet in Germany, but at least for customers in Switzerland and Singapore.
Under the name Hemsäker, a box word from the Swedish terms “hem” for home and “säker” for safe, there are two different policies: household and personal liability insurance and a combination of both. The offers are not sold through the furniture stores, but only online via a special website (insurance.ikea.ch). The offers come from Iptiq, a subsidiary of the Swiss reinsurer Swiss Re.
The cooperation is close. For example, in Switzerland there are price advantages for insurance for anyone who has an Ikea Family Club customer card. In addition, members receive a voucher for the equivalent of around 20 euros if they have not reported any damage for a year.
Customer loyalty through insurance
The benefit for Ikea is the stronger customer loyalty through the member benefits. According to an Ikea spokesman, the insurer pays the voucher out of his own pocket and in return may keep the premiums in full. And, at least potentially, the insurer has access to millions of Ikea customers. After all, the offers (even without the member benefits) are very attractive. A comparison calculation of € uro on Sunday shows that the tariffs beat all competitors out of the field. When and whether the offer comes to Germany is open, according to the spokesman.
But here in Germany too, there is already a large number of collaborations between product providers and insurance companies, and the trend is rising. However, in contrast to Ikea’s, many of these offers are rather unattractive. Take motor vehicle policies, for example: car dealers have been offering such insurance directly at the counter for a long time. The offers of the cooperation partners are almost always more expensive if you compare them with the overall market. That is what she is currently doing Mercedes-Benz bank no exception. If you do not buy the car policy from the bank with car financing, but conclude a solo offer elsewhere, you can save up to 20 percent – with better benefits. This resulted in a sample calculation of € uro on Sunday.
Consumers who search for a car at Mobile.de, probably the largest car portal in Germany with 1.5 million vehicles, drive better. There you are with one click at Check24, the largest financial comparison portal in the country. The basic data of the car found is taken over immediately. With Check24, which covers almost the entire market (even if Germany’s largest car insurer HUK-Coburg is not included), drivers who are looking for suitable insurance are likely to get quite good results.
High deductible when traveling
This also applies if you resist the recommendation of the travel portals for insurance protection. Because there is almost always only one provider. Those who oppose this with Vit24.de, a comparison portal for travel policies, receive cheaper and better protection. Because through the travel providers, customers have to accept a high deductible of 20 percent.
So this insurance is hardly worth it. For a sample trip, the Hanse Merkur at Holidaycheck.de charges 132 euros. With the offer from Würzburger Versicherung, there is still a price advantage of almost eleven percent with better performance without deductible. Even more nonsensical are so-called premium packages, which additionally include liability, emergency, luggage and accident insurance – almost always at the narrow gauge level. Protection that is taken out of the tour operator is always much better and cheaper and should definitely include a health insurance abroad.
Policies that sell electronics retailers are particularly bad. You have to be liable for defects in the device for at least two years anyway. In the first six months, the seller even has to prove that his device was faultless when it was purchased. That is applicable law. Nevertheless, Saturn cheerfully provides a three to five year “plus guarantee” from Zurich Insurance.
Keep an eye on the guarantee
For a TV set worth around 3,000 euros, a one-time insurance fee of 200 euros is due for five-year protection. However, only production and material defects are insured, as well as battery wear and tear if they perform less than 50 percent. However, such errors usually occur early, hence the two-year warranty law. For the hefty surcharge of 405 euros, you get the Plusschutz Mobil including theft protection for two years for a cell phone worth 1,100 euros.
This is extremely expensive, but it leaves a good feeling with customers. Because damage from accident, shock, fall, moisture and sand are insured. These policies are first a repair cost protection. Replacement is only possible if the repair is no longer worthwhile or if there is a total loss.
Young people in particular often have very different expectations of protection. “They believe that they would get a top-of-the-range device when securing a replacement device of the same type and quality as good as new,” says Bernhard Gramberg, an IT specialist and expert from Berlin. “The current top-of-the-range devices are technically much more powerful and therefore not a measure of compensation,” emphasizes the expert.
If the damage is not that bad and you can still use the device, there is no performance at all. This also applies to theft from a pocket. Theft protection, which only includes robbery and burglary, is the greatest seduction at the point of sale, whether on the PC or in the shop. “This borders a lot on misleading,” says the Hamburg Consumer Center, which is clearly not amused.
There is also a great temptation at the around 960 bicycle shops belonging to the ZEG, a cooperative shopping community. In contrast to the competitively priced competition from Zurich, Ammerländer or Waldenburger, the ZEG bike policy, which runs through Ergo’s insurance company, does not provide for money, but only a “natural replacement” – that is, a repair or a new bike Plus protection. A single premium is due immediately for 60 months. With a 3,000 euro pedelec, the customer must then shell out 385 euros. The equivalent of a good price for protection, which then even replaces wear and tear.
But does the policy make sense individually? If theft is already covered by household insurance? The classic policy pays the current new value, for bike policies the purchase price is over. Many enthusiastic cyclists are unlikely to ask such questions, given the certainly nice dealer.
Sales engine instead of insurance
Sometimes you even get insurance for free. The optician chain Fielmann advertises with the “zero tariff insurance” from Hanse Merkur. If you take out insurance, you will receive glasses free of charge in the event of a claim. But this performance has little to do with insurance, but is a sales engine for glasses salesman Fielmann, because “glasses from the cash register” were practically abolished. The insurance only covers changes in vision from minus or plus 0.5 diopters and damage that the optician cannot repair.
Therefore, the insurance is particularly worthwhile for Hanse Merkur. Because the loss of rapid deterioration in vision hardly occurs. “It is very rare from a patient’s age of 30,” confirms the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany.
Another negative example: the AXA accident policy that customers get when they buy a bicycle brake light from the manufacturer Litecco. The Light-Guard brake lamp, in combination with the Wayguard companion app, is developing into an e-call for bicycles. If the driver falls, an emergency call is triggered and the location of the accident is displayed via GPS. A good system. But now there is accident insurance for one year for free. Even better? No! Basically, the policy only pays if you have an accident with the bike and the companion app is active during the accident and it has connected to the rear light.
This situation alone is hardly appropriate in practice. Anyone who forgets to switch on or the lamp has no insurance cover. Whether the layman who simply wants to ride a bike as safely as possible recognizes these gaps can be highly doubted. And the disability sum of just 60,000 euros is completely inadequate for a policy with such a claim.
Insure your car via the telephone company?
Customers of Vodafone, one of the largest mobile operators in Germany, also get insurance offers. Here, customers can have an app rate how well they drive a car. The partner is the young car insurer Emil, who is behind Gothaer. “Emil is Germany’s first car insurance, where you pay monthly for every kilometer you drive. Little drivers and second-car owners save,” the provider promises. For Vodafone customers, this is still topped: There is another 20 percent discount if the driving style is checked in advance using an adapter.
But even if you then get the maximum discount as a Vodafone customer and only cover 5,000 kilometers per year as a low driver, you are too expensive in a market comparison. The HUK24 Kasko Select is up to 32 percent cheaper in the telematics tariff. And not only that: those who join Vodafone have to go to the insurance partner’s workshop for damage claims. Otherwise, 15 percent of the bill must be borne by yourself.
Illegal advice from the pediatrician
Sometimes offers are simply illegal. For example in the case of outpatient supplementary health policies. They pay for many services provided by resident doctors that are not paid for by the statutory health insurance companies. “A pediatrician actually recommended a customer what tariff she should take out,” says Harald Peschken, president of the Federal Association of Insurance Consultants BVVB. That is forbidden, said Peschken. And there is a limit to insurance fraud if the insurance company does not disclose previous illnesses in order to finance the treatment through insurance.
Even those who go to the vet can quickly get caught up in insurance. The animal health insurer Tierdirekt advertises for veterinarians that they will become a partner practice with a “unique billing process”. The doctors – 500 partners are to be won – act as tipsters for the insurance company. Benefits that are not insured are billed directly by the insurer using the cash-free module.
Sensitive pet owners are likely to be under pressure. The policies with a sum limit, many exclusions and deductibles are very complicated. But customers should hardly receive such important information.
Do consumer-related associations make it better? The Federation of Insured Persons (BdV) also offers accident protection for its members. A test shows: The group tariff is pretty good, but not great. The Ammerländer accident policy is one point ahead of the BdV. After an accident, the benefit is only reduced if more than 75 percent of previous illnesses were the cause. At the BdV, this limit is 50 percent – an important difference for seniors.
Associations are not necessarily cheap
Germany’s largest automobile club ADAC also fails in terms of the vehicle tariffs that it offers in cooperation with Allianz. The fully comprehensive insurance Premium, which, according to advertising, amazes club members by price and performance, certainly has a serious competitor with the HUK24 Classic Kasko Plus.
Damage from roof avalanches is not insured at HUK24, but ADAC does not offer protection against embezzlement. It works, for example, if you lend the car to a friend and you don’t get it back. In very important areas such as compensation in the amount of the new value within 36 months, the offers are identical and actually incredibly powerful. But there is the price: According to the sample invoice, the club member pays around 882 euros despite a discount of ten percent – mind you without a membership fee, which is currently at least 54 euros per year. With the HUK24 it is only 495 euros. If you get in there, you can also afford the ADAC virtually free of charge for more than seven years.
“The aim of such cooperation is to increase sales,” said BVVB President Peschken. “Of course there is final pressure for the sellers.” Therefore, money is drawn out of the pockets of consumers for contracts, which very often would not cover the customer’s insurance needs.
Even with comparison portals, the insurance sale is based on the price. There is hardly any customer advice. “Poor insurance coverage could soon become a social problem,” Peschken fears. There was more and more young people lacking existential protection against loss of labor or death. They obviously prefer to put their money on Billy shelves.
Professional advice before taking out a policy
Insurance advisors give independent advice on insurance issues. These service providers are organized in the Federal Association of Insurance Consultants (BVVB; www.bvvb.de). Insurance advice is a kind of legal advice and is paid much like an attorney at cost. Depending on the specific case, the costs for a one-off consultation range from EUR 120 to EUR 200. In return, consumers receive advice without having to fear that their counterpart wants to sell them insurance. The money for the advice of a professional is well spent if you are unsure whether you need expensive insurance at all or how the offers differ.
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