Sale of insured items – the insurance is transferred to the buyer

A surprise when selling e-bikes

When Oliver Kienzle wanted to cancel the bicycle insurance for his recently sold e-mountain bike, he was surprised by the response from the insurance company WGV. “The insurance contract is transferred to the buyer,” it said in his letter. Only the buyer and the insurance company are entitled to terminate the contract.

Financial test subscriber Kienzle was not familiar with this rule until then. However, it is not a special feature of the WGV, but applies to all property insurance such as car, building, musical instruments or Handyversicherungen.

After the sale: Unproblematic contract termination

Kienzle should provide the insurance company with the name and address of the new owner. However, he had sold the bike through eBay classifieds and only the buyer’s email address. He did not respond to his messages. In the end, the email address was sufficient for the WGV. She ended the contract with Kienzle and reimbursed him for the overpaid contribution.

Even if you no longer have any information from the buyer after the sale, you are not trapped in the contract forever, says Torsten Widmann, head of the product management department at WGV. “If a customer no longer owns the insured item, we will cancel the contract due to the loss of risk.”

Bicycle sales: what happens to the policy?

Anyone who buys a high-quality bicycle often wants to insure it against theft and accidents. The fact that existing insurance is transferred to the buyer for used purchases can be an advantage: There is no insurance gap in which one is left without protection. Also, not all insurers offer one Bike insurance for bikes bought second-hand.

So adopting the previous owner’s policy can be handy. Important: The buyer or seller must inform the insurer immediately that the bike has been sold. Otherwise it can happen that he does not have to pay in the event of damage. A report by phone or email is often sufficient. However, insurance companies may specify the text form (e-mail, letter) or written form (signed letter, electronic signature) in the terms and conditions.

Tip: As a seller of an insured item, give the buyer the name and contact details of your insurer or, as a buyer, ask about them.

What applies to selling a cell phone or surfboard?

Insurance for electronic devices, musical instruments or sports equipment is also automatically transferred to the new owner in the event of a sale. This is regulated by the Insurance Contract Act in Section 95.

Even if insurance is often practical, the buyer may not want it because she does not need the protection or wants to conclude a different contract. And the customer is, so to speak, “forced” on the insurer. Therefore, both the buyer and the insurance company can terminate the contract within one month of the purchase. If you only find out later about the sale or the existence of the insurance, you have one month from this point in time.

Buyers have two options

Buyers who want to terminate their contract have a choice: they can do so immediately or at the end of the current insurance period. The insurer has one month to give the buyer time to sign a new contract with another company if necessary.

As of the time of the sale, the seller no longer has the right to terminate the contract – as in Kienzel’s case. Early termination can prevent the insurance from being transferred to the new owner if the contract ends before the sale. There is no special right of termination due to a planned sale.

Tip: In most cases, the ordinary termination must be received no later than three months before the end of the contract, shorter periods are also possible.

Who has to pay the insurance premiums?

In the current insurance period, often one year, the buyer and seller are jointly responsible for the costs of the insurance. Usually the seller has already paid for them in advance.

If he were to sell an insured bike in the middle of a one-year contract and the buyer would like to continue the contract, both should agree in advance on how the costs will be covered. Ansgar Staudinger, Professor of Civil Law at Bielefeld University, explains: “The seller can add the insurance premium for the remaining six months to the purchase price, for example.” If the buyer extends the contract after the current insurance period, she then has to pay for the costs alone .

However, if the insurer or buyer terminate the contract before the end of the contract period, the seller has the right to have the overpaid premium reimbursed by the insurer.

Selling a home and building insurance

The rules described also apply to the sale of a residential building. Here it is particularly important not to have periods without insurance cover, as a fire or a violent storm can lead to considerable costs.

This is what happened to a house buyer who suffered damage of around 38,000 euros due to a storm two months after the handover. She assumed that there was building insurance.

In this case, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that the seller does not have to clarify without being asked whether there is insurance before concluding the purchase contract. However, if the seller first declares that he has insurance cover and loses it or terminates it before the entry in the land register is changed, he must inform the buyer immediately (Az. V ZR 61/19).

Tips from the specialist lawyer

David Sahlender, specialist lawyer for insurance law at Wittig Ünalp, recommends stating in the sales contract whether an insurance is in place.

In an interview with Stiftung Warentest, he points out another aspect: “A buyer may take on insurance coverage, but may not know the duties and obligations that are necessary to maintain it.” For empty houses, for example, this is the requirement, to empty all water pipes. The scope of insurance is also important information for homeowners.

Tip: Ask the seller or the insurer about the current insurance conditions. If you want to sign a new contract, you will find good offers in our Comparison of home insurance.

Is home contents insurance transferred to the next tenant?

No, it depends on the policyholder and his household items, i.e. furniture and objects in the apartment or house. If he moves, the insurance company will come with him.

Tip: Report the move to the insurer promptly so that he can adjust the sum insured if necessary. In our By comparing home insurance, you can find cheap and powerful deals.

Which rules apply when selling a car?

Anyone who buys a used car or motorcycle automatically takes over the policy of the previous owner. Motor vehicle liability insurance is compulsory in Germany because it pays for damage that others incur while driving. Without them you are not allowed to drive on public roads.

When selling a car, it should be contractually agreed that the buyer will immediately re-register the vehicle. At the time of admission, he must present a confirmation of insurance. Special regulation: The The previous owner’s car insurance is automatically canceled when the buyer takes out a new one. Nevertheless, buyers and sellers must report the change of ownership to the insurer – preferably with the date and time of the handover. If the buyer then causes an accident, the seller’s no-claims class will not be downgraded.