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Civil Liability Insurance. Why Each Tenant Should Have It

Have you ever broken anything by mistake? Broken anything in a store or unintentionally knocked somebody down on the sidewalk? These unintentional damages may be very expensive, so it’s worth insuring yourself against them. And if you live in a rented apartment, such insurance is a real must for you. 

1. What is civil liability insurance?

Civil liability insurance (in Polish: Ubezpieczenie od odpowiedzialności cywilnej w życiu prywatnym, OC) protects the policyholder against the financial consequences of potential claims raised by other parties or entities. It’s voluntary but really worth having. 

The insurance covers the cost of damage caused unintentionally. And it does happen to all of us. If it’s just yogurt in a supermarket, we guess the staff won’t make any fuss. However, if it’s something expensive or – even worse – someone gets hurt, the insurance may be your savior.

2. Insurance when renting a flat

The apartment owner carries homeowners insurance, but this does not cover the tenant’s liability.

The owner of the apartment can request you buy insurance. If so, such information should be added to your lease agreement. In this case, the insurance should include the clause “Szkody w umowie najmu” [damages during the lease agreement period].

It’s not obligatory (according to Polish law), so not every landlord will ask you to have it. However, we strongly advise you not to ignore it and protect yourself.

3. Why do you need civil liability insurance?

According to Polish law every car owner must have third-party liability insurance. Thanks to that, in case of an accident that is your fault, the insurance will cover the costs of the claims by the other party. And in the case of a traffic accident such claims may be very high. 

The civil liability insurance works the same way: if by mistake you break somebody’s mobile or you drop expensive perfume in a shop, you won’t pay from your own pocket. 

If you’re a tenant, such unintentional damage may even be more unpleasant, like breaking a shower cabin, scratching an expensive piece of furniture or damaging a kitchen appliance. Without insurance you’d have to pay for these damages yourself. And if you flood your neighbor or cause a fire, the costs will definitely exceed the security deposit amount and may even empty your bank account. 

That’s why it’s worth investing in insurance. Depending on the coverage, the insurance company will cover the costs of damages up to 50,000, 100,000 or even 200,000 PLN. The coverage amount is the maximum the insurance will pay out in 1 year.

4. How much does it cost and how long is it valid?

Price is one of the crucial elements in our decision-making process. Civil liability insurance,with the least amount of coverage (up to 50.000 PLN), only costs about 50-100 PLN per year! Everything depends on the coverage, but as you see, buying insurance isn’t such a big cost.

The insurance is valid for 12 months from the day it was bought. If during the insurance period you change your address, let your insurance company know to make sure all the details in your policy are valid.

5. Here’s what you need to buy insurance

The main (and the only) condition to get civil liability insurance in Poland is to have a PESEL number. Each Pole has it from the moment we’re born, but foreigners living in Poland have to apply for one. 

A PESEL number is necessary not only for the insurance, so it’s worth having it anyway. The process is fast and requires one visit to city hall. How to get the PESEL number? Check out our guide below:

6. What’s important when choosing insurance?

When doing research check the following things:

  • the maximum coverage amount (suma gwarancyjna) – which is the maximum amount that your insurance will cover (the higher the better, but it shouldn’t be less than 50,000);
  • the insurance policy contains the full list of situations that the insurance will cover and places where the insurance will work (just your flat, only in Poland, or all of Europe, or the entire world). Important! If the insurance is an addition to the owner’s insurance, check what area yours covers.

7. When does insurance work?

The insurance works only when you unintentionally hurt somebody or break an item that belongs to someone else. 

Most common cases are:

  • if by mistake you flood your neighbor’s apartment, for example a pipe in your washing machine breaks or you forget to turn off the water;
  • when you forget to shovel the sidewalk by your house and someone slips and breaks a bone (this applies to house owners);
  • if you scratch someone’s car;
  • when riding a bike or an electric scooter and you knock somebody down and break their phone;
  • when your dog bites someone;
  • you damage anything in a rented apartment or a hotel room;
  • you break your company’s phone or computer – please remember that you must have a written agreement with your employer for using it!

Remember! The insurance only works when the injured person isn’t a relative and you don’t share the same household.

8. When insurance doesn’t work?

Everything has its limits, insurance too. Detailed information can be found in the policy, but most common cases don’t include:

  • paying for the repairs when it’s regular wear and tear, like dirty walls
  • damages made after drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • injuries done on purpose
  • injuries done to your household member
  • when damages were caused by e.g. your babysitter
  • extreme or dangerous sports
  • using firearms or explosives
  • if your pet is on the list of aggressive dog breeds or is an exotic animal
  • your dog isn’t current on their vaccinations
  • the damage was caused in the course of business activities

9. How to report damage?

After the damage you should simply give the number of your insurance policy and name of the insurance company to the other party. The insurance company will check if your insurance covers the costs, calculate the amount, and pay the injured person. It’s good to agree on a common version and take pictures. You also have to prove that the damage was unintentionally caused.

If you break an item without the knowledge of the owner (like damaging something in a rented apartment), first let the owner know. Then contact your insurance company. Usually, you can do it online – via an online form on their website, email, phone call, or directly at the insurance branch. 

The insurance company has 30 days to process your claim.

10. Where to buy insurance?

Civil liability insurance can easily be bought online. However, most websites are only in Polish. If you don’t speak Polish you’d better go to the branch yourself and the insurance agent will help you choose the best option. Most insurance companies have branches in every large Polish city. 

Insurance brokers cooperate with a few companies and will search for the best option for you. 

The most popular insurance companies in Poland are:

  • PZU
  • Warta
  • Uniqa
  • Allianz 
  • Ergo Hestia

To sum up, is it worth having civil liability insurance?

The cost of buying insurance is much smaller than the amount of damage that it may cover. It’s better to spend 75 PLN once a year and hope that nothing will happen, than spending nothing and later being forced to cover damage from your own pocket (especially if it exceeds your financial resources). From our experience, we know that getting compensation from an insurance company is easy and fast.
And we hope it won’t be necessary. We wish you a safe rental experience.

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