FAQ on accident insurance
A foreign researcher working in a university laboratory has an accident. How are they insured? Does it make any difference whether they are working on the basis of a fellowship or under an employment contract? What does the researcher need to do in advance, and what does the institution that he/she is working at need to do?
If the researcher has an employment contract and is subject to German social security regulations, then he/she will be entitled to cover under the statutory German accident insurance scheme. The university must submit an accident report to the insurance provider. In the case of state universities this is the accident insurance scheme of the respective Federal state. The researcher will then receive accident insurance benefits in accordance with the Social Security Code VII ("Sozialgesetzbuch VII").
The same is true for a fellowship holder if he/she has been registered at the university as a student because the statutory accident insurance scheme covers students whilst they are engaged in training or education at institutions of higher education.
In the exceptional circumstance that a foreign researcher is not liable for social security contributions in Germany, but is in his or her own country, consideration should be given to filing an accident report in that country. It should be noted that, both in this case or in cases where the fellowship holder is not registered at a university, it is advisable to obtain private insurance cover that expressly includes laboratory accidents. The individual researcher is generally responsible for obtaining personal accident insurance cover. However, the research institution or fellowship donor may voluntarily decide to provide insurance cover for the researcher.
As a university we organise excursions and events for international guest researchers, such as coach trips in the area, family afternoons, regular get-togethers and guided tours. The groups are very heterogeneous: international doctoral candidates, postdocs, professors on contracts, registered international doctoral candidates, international fellows at all levels, visiting professors on sabbatical and/or self-financed, visiting lecturers, the partners and children of visiting researchers, university staff. The length of time the guest researchers spend at the university varies from a few weeks to several years. Some of the participants will have been in Germany for more than 30 days at the time of the excursion. Not all of them have private third-party liability and accident insurance. What points should we consider and what is the best way of acquiring insurance cover for such a diverse group of participants, including the staff of the Welcome Centre?
Employees and students at the university are automatically covered by statutory accident insurance in the course of teaching, research and study-related events. However, some of the participants, for example employees and students at other universities who are categorised as "guests" and family members, do not belong to this group. Furthermore, excursions, family afternoons, regular get-togethers and guided tours are not usually classified as teaching, research and study-related events. Therefore, there is no accident insurance cover.
If wished, additional private accident and third-party liability insurance cover could be obtained for these events. The costs could then be divided up amongst the participants.
When registering for an event, it is also possible to ask participants to sign an agreement stating that they are taking part at their own risk and on their own responsibility and that they accept the extensive exclusion of liability on the part of the organisers.
Disclaimer: All the FAQs and the information on which the answers are based are carefully monitored. However, we cannot assume any responsibility for contents. All the contents are of a general nature and cannot deal conclusively with every individual case. They are not necessarily complete, comprehensive or completely up to date. They neither constitute legal advice nor legally-binding information and cannot be a substitute for expert advice.