As a civil servant, why do I need disability insurance, you might think. Nothing can happen to me – the state takes care of me! That’s not wrong, but unfortunately not quite right either. Even as a civil servant, you can find yourself in a situation where you could do with such insurance. You can find out when this is the case and what you should bear in mind when taking out insurance here.
Civil servants are well looked after, but …
It is true that civil servants are well provided for compared to the rest of the working population – employees and self-employed. They are covered by their employer’s duty of care and do not even have to make a personal contribution. At first glance, therefore, an occupational disability insurance for civil servants may not seem necessary. On closer inspection, however, it proves to be quite sensible. Because in an emergency…
- the pension benefits do not apply to every official
- services are not necessarily sufficient to maintain living standards
And just how quickly this emergency can occur is shown by this figure: one in four officials will become unfit for service before they reach retirement age!
Newcomers go home empty-handed
Officials receive a retirement pension in the event of invalidity. The more years of service the official has, the higher the pension. But: this cover is only available for civil servants for life, and only after they have completed at least five years of service! This means that if a civil servant is incapacitated by illness or a leisure-time accident, either on revocation or during training, he or she will receive nothing of the sort. He is simply dismissed and re-insured in the statutory pension insurance. In that case, instead of a pension, he would have to receive a statutory pension for reduced earning capacity – but this is only available after a certain minimum period. This means nothing else than that an unfit young civil servant is often not covered at all and in the worst case must apply for Hartz IV.
Exception: The situation is somewhat different in the case of incapacity for work following an accident on duty. Civil servants can then receive a maintenance contribution on revocation and probationary civil servants can receive an accident pension.
Civil servants may have to “top up” their insurance
However, even if an invalidity pension is paid to an official, it may not be sufficient to cover the cost of living. Because, as I said, you do not get the full amount when you are young. Instead, this is how it works:
The minimum pension for civil servants for life – the so-called minimum retirement pension – is 35% of their pensionable pay. It increases with each year of service and after 40 years reaches a maximum of 71.75 percent of the last salary.
The following rule of thumb can be used to calculate how high the pension will be in your individual case: Number of years of service x 1.79375. This is the percentage of the last salary that you will receive as a pension.
Although there are differences in the individual federal states, this formula is still a good approximation. And it makes it clear: even after 30 years of service, a civil servant receives just 53.81 percent of the last salary. Would that be enough for you? If not, consumer protectors such as the German Association of Insured Persons recommend occupational disability insurance. In an emergency, this should increase the pension to at least 75 percent of the last income.
Civil servants’ BU: This clause is important
An occupational disability insurance is therefore also quite useful for civil servants. Compared to “normal” occupational disability insurances, however, civil servants have to observe some special features. For example, civil servants can be declared not only disabled but also unfit for work (see box). Therefore, the contract should include an invalidity clause (also called civil servant clause). The agreed pension will then be paid in the event of recognised invalidity. Insurance policies with such a clause for civil servants are often also called disability insurance.
The employer makes the decision on an incapacity to work after an expert opinion from an official doctor. Officials recognised as unfit for service are retired early if they cannot be employed elsewhere.
Tip: Make sure you have a genuine civil servant clause in your occupational disability insurance. It stipulates that the insurance company follows the employer’s assessment and does not require a medical examination of its own. Otherwise, you may be declared unfit for work by your employer, but the insurance company will determine that you are fit for work and refuse to pay. And: Make sure that the civil servant clause is not relativized or even cancelled in the small print.
Example of a good civil servant clause: “If the insured person is a civil servant in the public sector, he/she is considered to be incapacitated if – before reaching the age limit provided for by law – he/she is dismissed or retired on the basis of a medical certificate issued by a public health officer for general invalidity. (Source: Insurance conditions of Signal Iduna, SI Premium occupational disability insurance – Comfort, as of January 2017).
Difference between invalidity and disability
Officials who are permanently incapable of performing their duties shall be declared unfit for service. Or who, as a result of sickness, have not worked for three months in any six-month period and who are not expected to be able to resume their duties within six months.
Disabled persons are those who, as a result of illness, accident or invalidity, are likely to be permanently unable to work in their learned profession. He may therefore still take up other activities. Example: A trained roofer can no longer perform his work due to balance problems. However, he can still easily take over administrative and office work.
Other things to consider
In addition to a genuine civil servant clause, there are other points you should bear in mind when taking out invalidity insurance:
- A so-called post-insurance guarantee is useful. It allows you to adapt the contract to changed living conditions. For example, you can increase the sum insured when you get married or have a child.
- Take your time when filling in the health questionnaire and make sure you answer the questions correctly. If a previously concealed illness turns up in the event of a claim, the insurance company may refuse to pay. Sometimes it is not even a bad will, but you simply do not take an ailment so seriously. When in doubt, talk to your family doctor to be on the safe side.
- Civil servants in different professions also have different risks and therefore different insurance rates. Desk perpetrators” such as civil servants, public prosecutors or judges get off particularly cheaply. It becomes more expensive for stressful professions like teachers and dangerous ones like policemen, firemen or soldiers. So compare different offers.
- Pay attention to the duration of offers. Many insurance companies offer only limited terms, for example up to the age of 50 or 55. Since the pension has already increased by this time, this is not necessarily a criterion for exclusion, but certainly not an advantage.