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Insurance in Austria

All about Austrian life, property and car insurance system. How to choose the right policy, how to make a claim.
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Author : Evgeny Pilnikov,
Luxury Immobilen CEO
10 min
PUBLISHED 08.12.2021
The Austrian social security system is contribution-based and features 3 branches that covers each individual: health, pension and accident.
Moreover, it provides non-contributory welfare supplements to reduce the risk of poverty in the country. In fact, Austria ranks among the 8 countries investing more than 1/4 of their gross domestic product on social expenditures, along with France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Finland. This indicator is surely higher than the OECD average of 20.1%. Additionally, Austrian residents can benefit from pet, car and home insurances, among others, to secure all sectors of their lives. In this article, we have collected all the essential information regarding various sectors of the social security system in Austria, its advantages and the requirements towards different categories of individuals.

Overview of Insurance in Austria

In total, there are 28 social insurance establishments in the country, which are statutory bodies under public law. Insurance is mandatory for those meeting the below-mentioned criteria:

  • Pensioners
  • Self-employed
  • Individuals claiming unemployment benefit
  • Salaried individuals
  • Individuals dependent on these groups
In Austria, students studying in a degree programme at any university are eligible for student self-insurance (Studierendenselbstversicherung). Its main requirements include the confirmation of admission/continuation of your studies from the institution of higher education and proof of residence in Austria. With this type of insurance, students have to pay a monthly fee of EUR 63.44.
As for freelancers and self-employed individuals, they need to figure out insurance by themselves, which can be done through the organization of self-employed workers (Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen), also known as SVS. It is recommended to hire an advisor who speaks English fluently to navigate you through the entire procedure of obtaining insurance. Otherwise, you can seek help in the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, where you have to register as a self/employed individual anyway. SVS payments cover a number of aspects of social and health care. As stated by the Austrian government, they cover sickness, incapacity for invalidity/work, unemployment, maternity, old age, nursing care, social need, death of a person liable to provide maintenance and survivors’ pensions.
In Austria, you are subject to social and health insurance payments if your income exceeds EUR 5,710.32 per annum (updated for 2021). Otherwise, you are exempt from paying any fees.
Those earning up to EUR 8,000 per year have to pay at least EUR 160 per month. Accordingly, with bigger earnings, you will be charged more. During the first 3 years, payments are calculated on a minimum contribution basis, while from the fourth year of self-employment, these payments are calculated taking into account the income in the preceding third year of business. Besides health insurance, SVS payments cover pension, self-employment provisions, accident insurance and administration costs.
Important! When first registering as self-employed in Austria, the start of social insurance payments is frequently delayed. Which means you may receive a bill a few months later and have to pay 6 months’ worth of social insurance all at once. After this time period, you can obtain SVS bills on a quarterly basis.

Which Insurance is Obligatory in Austria?

In Austria, it is mandatory to have social insurance, as well as to ensure your car and home. If you are unemployed, you can benefit from financial assistance during a specific period of time .

Health Insurance

The healthcare system of Austria is widely known for being the best quality with world-class facilities and seamless access to professionals and specialists. It is worth mentioning that Austria is listed in the top 10 countries on the planet for healthcare on a regular basis. For instance, in the World Health Organization ranking, the country holds the ninth position, while in the CEOWORLD health index it is ranked fourth, with 99% of its residents being covered. This is due to the fact that Austria is continuously investing in the well-being of its residents, having spent 11.5% of GDP in the healthcare sector, according to the data from Statista. The healthcare system is primarily public and as long as you are a legal resident, you are eligible for healthcare. Additionally, temporary residents and tourists can also seek healthcare if they fall ill in Austria, nevertheless, they are frequently required to pay the full cost of treatments if they do not have insurance.
If you are staying in Austria for over 6 months, then you are considered a resident and you are obliged to pay for medical care to one of the local insurance companies (Sozialversicherungsträger). If you are from a country that has a social insurance agreement with Austria, you are required to bring an A3 form for short stays (no longer than 3 months) and an A4 form for long-term stays (Hauptwohnsitz).

In the majority of cases, enrolment in health insurance is automatic as soon as you are employed. This also extends to school and university students. Contributions are deducted out of your monthly salary payment, meaning that the cost is calculated based on your income, rather than individual healthcare needs. Employers are responsible for registering their employees and transferring payments to the Osterreichische Gesundheitskasse (OGK), which is the country’s largest social health insurance in Austria. In fact, 82% of people in Austria are ensured through the system. After registration, you will receive a social insurance number. Specific categories, such as international students who are not co-insured, or EU citizens who are self-supporting, may have to obtain private insurance to make sure they are covered while staying in Austria.
Meanwhile, EU students, which have valid insurance from the EU/EA and Switzerland, are able to benefit from treatment at a lower price or even for free. Nevertheless, before doing so, the EHIC has to be applied.
If you are a researcher/scientist visiting from an EEA/EU country or Switzerland and have valid national health insurance from your country, the EHIC is still required from you. Moreover, workers sent to Austria by their employers will need an E102 form from their health insurance providers in their home country.
To learn more about the private and public health insurance systems in Austria, and who can access them, you can take a look at our article Health insurance in Austria.

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E-card

Since 2005, the e-card replaced external health certificates in the country for everyone, including newborns. The e-card has an electronic chip that is linked to the online database and contains information about health, pension, unemployment and accident insurance for each individual. It is only valid on the condition that all data fields are filled out and that you are actually insured or have co-insurance in Austria. Therefore, when visiting a doctor, you have to present the card, which means you will not need to provide any extra paper documents as all your information will be available on the database. Via the e-card, the doctor can check if a patient is insured and which healthcare insurance company can pay for their treatment. Moreover, the card can be used by specialists, GPs and dentists in the majority of hospitals in Austria as well as facilities belonging to social insurance companies.

If you are insured with multiple providers then you can decide which health insurance you would like to benefit from when visiting a doctor. The period of validity of an e-card is unlimited and is sent to you automatically by your health insurance provider by post, as soon as you start paying insurance contributions. As established in January 2021, each year you are obliged to pay a service fee of EUR 12.3. Among its benefits is that pharmacists and doctors can find previously prescribed and dispensed prescription drugs of patients, subsequently checking dosage, potential interactions and contra-indications.
Important! In Austria, each insured person is obliged to pay a prescription fee up to a maximum of 2% of his/her net income per annum. Once the 2% limit is reached, the release is indicated in the medical practice after reading the e-card.
The back of the e-card contains the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives you a right to avail state-provided healthcare during temporary visits in another country at a reduced price or even for free in specific cases.
It is valid in the entire European Economic Area, including Switzerland, the EU, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EHIC covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care, providing that you have not come to the country solely to give birth. The EHIC is valid on the condition that all data fields are filled out and that you are actually insured or co-insured in Austria.
Note: In terms of EU and EEA citizens, the above-mentioned EHIC, which is freely available, cannot replace regular medical insurance. For stays of up to 6 months, travel health insurance may be enough, however, if you are planning to stay in Austria longer than this, then the insurance that covers all medical issues is highly recommended. It is essential to know that private medical treatment is not covered by the EHIC, so you have to make sure that you are treated by a provider who has a contract with the GKK regional health insurance offices. Those doctors who operate under the state system in Austria usually display signs saying Aufschrift Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen.

Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment benefits or Arbeitslosengeld are available for those individuals who enter a period of unemployment or lose their job. You have to be registered as unemployed with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) and ready to work a minimum of 20 hours a week once a job is found for you. Moreover, you can benefit from Notstandshilfe, which is a kind of emergency financial assistance in case Arbeitslosengeld runs out. To be eligible for this, you have to submit an application no later than 5 years after the benefits have ended. Some people can avail a family allowance, depending on their situation. This includes people with children that are considered dependents, including grandchildren, foster children and stepchildren. Claimant’s who have a partner/spouse with little or no income are eligible for the family allowance as well.
In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, you must have been employed for 52 weeks out of the past 2 years. If you are applying for Arbeitslosengeld for the second time or more, 28 weeks of employment in the past year is sufficient. For those aged 25 and under, 26 weeks of work in the past year is enough. At the same time, self-employed individuals can avail voluntary unemployment insurance through SVS. Voluntary unemployment insurance is an additional financial contribution, besides the standard health and social insurance payments.
The sum of unemployment benefits depends on whether you are eligible for the basic amount or for the extra allowances. According to the AMS website, it is quite complicated to calculate the basic amount. To put it simply, in the majority of cases, Arbeitslosengeld is determined by the sum of monthly social insurance payments made by an individual. Typically, it is 55% of an income and you can benefit from it for 20 weeks. The duration increases in a number of cases, which can be found on the AMS website. It is essential to know that a supplement may be added if the basic amount is less than the compensation allowance target. As of 2021, this is set at EUR 1,000.48 per month.

To claim Arbeitslosengeld, you have to complete 2 steps:

  1. Register as unemployed with the AMS.
  2. Submit an application form to make a claim.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, all applications have to be submitted through an eAMS account, which is the online AMS portal.

Car Insurance

In Austria, third-party car insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) is obligatory and can be arranged with the help of an insurance broker (Versicherungsmakler) or an insurance company (Versicherungsunternehmen). You are required to provide proof of insurance before obtaining car license plates (Autokennzeichen) and car registration documents (Zulassungsschein). As of January 2017, the legal minimum insured amount for passenger cars is EUR 7.6M, out of which EUR 6.3M is designated for personal injury and EUR 1.3M for property damage. In case the actual damage exceeds the above-mentioned amount, the driver has to pay the difference. The insurance covers damage caused by your vehicle to another car, people, property and any financial loss. If you are the one responsible for an accident, your own third-party insurance will cover the cost of the damage incurred by the other driver, but not your own damages.
Note: You can also consider partial coverage insurance (Telikasko) and fully comprehensive insurance (Vollkasko) but they are not obligatory.
Austrian insurance companies operate on the Bonus-Malus system, also known as a ‘no claims bonus’. Under this system claim-free years reduce the charged premium for every year with no insurance claim. On the contrary, if claims are reported, a higher premium will be charged for the following year. The Bonus-Malus system varies from one insurance provider to another. Luckily, Austrian insurance companies often take into consideration the previous damage history of EU citizens, although they are not obliged to do so.

In order to make a claim, you can contact your insurance company by phone or online. You will be asked to provide your personal details such as your name, license plate number and contact details, besides the information regarding the claim. As a rule, the limitation period for filing claims is 3 years. After making a claim, you will be able to check its progress via an online claim tracker on the website of your insurance provider.

Home Insurance

If you acquire a house in Austria, you are required to obtain standard homeowner’s insurance (Eigenheimverischerung), which covers fire and water damage, theft, as well as vandalism. This insurance aims at protecting the actual building, including walls, ceilings, floors and any permanent fixtures, such as baths, showers and kitchen units. As a rule, companies offer 2 different plans: basic (minimum level coverage) and comprehensive/all-inclusive (covers all or most risks). For the long-term covers, such as a 10-year contract, there is usually a 20% discount on the annual premium. The cost of homeowner’s insurance depends on the building size, its value, location and age of the property. Typically, the price of basic coverage ranges from EUR 150-250 per annum, while comprehensive plans cost between EUR 300-500.

The procedure of filing out a claim form can be done online, where you describe the situation, submit photo evidence and check the status of your claim via a tracker. The majority of companies will assign you a claims manager, who you can contact regarding your case.

Optional Forms of Insurance in Austria

It is worth considering optional forms of insurance in Austria, which include household, travel, pet and personal liability.

Home Contents Insurance

Household insurance protects your home contents from damage or theft and is quite popular with renters as they are usually responsible for insuring their personal belongings. Similar to homeowner’s insurance, there are typically 2 plans available: basic and comprehensive. The cost of each plan depends on a number of factors, including the property value and its location, among others. Basic plans start at EUR 60 per annum and comprehensive coverage can be bought for a minimum of EUR 100. Of course, most companies have an online calculator on their websites, where you can check the most suitable option for you.

Travel Insurance

When traveling to Austria for a stay of up to 6 months, travel insurance is sufficient. It is worth mentioning that Austria is covered under any European travel insurance policy, which covers repatriation, cancelation or curtailment of a holiday, delayed and missed departures, travel abandonment, baggage, passport and personal liability. It is strongly recommended to start your travel insurance policy from the day you book your trip if you unexpectedly have to cancel. You have to remember that the insurance must cover medical costs of more than EUR 30,000, including a guarantee to cover possible recovery and costs for treatment for COVID-19. Moreover, it has to be valid for the whole duration of your stay in Austria.

Pet Insurance

In order to bring your pet to Austria, you have to microchip the animal first, as well as giving them a rabies vaccination, rabies titer test, tapeworm treatment and health certificate. In terms of insurance, you can choose from the following options for your pet:

  1. Liability insurance covers property damage and personal injury as well as financial loss.
  2. Legal protection insurance supports you in any legal disputes with neighbours, authorities and landlords.
  3. Accident and health insurance.
The price of an insurance package for one pet can start from EUR 5.3 per month. This is the minimum package, which will include the type of coverage for accident, illness and wellness. In addition, a separate fee will range from EUR 45 to EUR 884. Such an insurance policy is able to cover treatment-related to incidents such as swallowed objects, bites and burns, eye injuries, toxic poisoning, sprains, or broken bones. But it is worth noting that the final cost of pet insurance depends on the package you choose and the insurance company directly.

Personal Liability Insurance

In Austria, liability is governed by law and is defined in the General Civil Code. Liability means that a person who causes damage or loss to another person by his or her own action or omission has to pay for all inflicted damages. The third-party liability insurance is responsible for checking the legal situation, fending off unjustified claims and settling justified claims. There is private, professional and business liability insurance available to everyone. Actually, this type of insurance is often included in the above-mentioned car and homeowner’s insurances.

Ordinary private liability insurance costs from EUR 20 to EUR 40 per year, but extended liability can cost from EUR 90 per year or more.
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Commercial Insurance in Austria

Those willing to set up business in Austria have to be sure to hire professionals to choose the best insurance options., as, public third-party liability insurance and employee social insurance will undoubtedly be required.

Public Third-Party Liability Insurance

Public third-party liability insurance covers damage/loss resulting from personal injury, property damage and resultant financial losses which are caused to a third party by the business activity. The benefit of this insurance is that not only is the business owner covered, but also their staff members as well. Moreover this type of insurance protects from claims by the third parties against death, injury, loss and damage of property, negligence and economic/financial loss.

Employee Social Insurance

Employers are obliged to register every employee subject to compulsory insurance under the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz (ASVG) with the relevant health insurance provider without being requested to do so. This regulation applies both to businesses using the prescribed contribution process and those using the payroll process if the employer has a business residence in Austria. As mentioned earlier, the insurance contributions are deducted from the gross salary of the employee. If the salary exceeds EUR 476 per month, the employee will also be covered by statutory insurance. Meanwhile, employers from non-EEA countries and without a business residence in Austria are exempt from employee registration duties and payments of employer and employee contributions.
Important! The application for registration is only valid if it is sent to the health insurance provider via OGK in the standard format specified by the Association of Austrian Insurance Providers. Applications submitted in other formats or via a different method are absolutely not acceptable.

How to Choose an Insurance Provider in Austria

When selecting an insurance policy in Austria, you will need to consider the following points:

  • Term contracts and penalties for early termination
  • The simplicity of the claims process
  • Availability of 24/7 customer support
  • Coverage of policy
  • Sustainability and ethical standards of the company
  • Availability of services in English or your native language

Tools for Comparing Insurance in Austria

If you are willing to compare insurance for your home, car, pet and so on, using an online insurance comparison portal is a good idea. A few of these include Uniqa and Durchblicker which will help you find the best policy for your specific case. These portals compare insured amounts, legal protection terms, premiums and the possibility of free damage.

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How to Complain about an Insurance Company in Austria

In case you have an issue with your insurance company, you can complain to the provider itself via phone, email or via their website. If this does not help and your problem has not been resolved, then you can contact the Financial Market Authority (FTA), which is responsible for regulating insurance companies. On its website, you will have to fill out a form, including your email, first and last name, as well as gender, and a description of your issue. It is worth mentioning that response times depend on the nature of your complaint.

Summary:

  • Homeowner’s insurance is obligatory, while household insurance is optional in Austria.
  • In order to avail unemployment benefits, you are required to have an AMS account.
  • The European Health Insurance Card cannot substitute regular medical insurance, since it does not cover all treatments and health conditions.
  • Once you are employed, you will automatically receive an e-card, which gives you access to healthcare services.
  • Holders of e-cards in Austria do not have to apply additionally for the EHIC, since the reverse side of the card contains all the information.
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Evgeny Pilnikov.
CEO.
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