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Tips on Insurance for Doctoral Candidates: What Is a Must and What Makes Good Sense?

The status of a doctoral candidate (having a regular employment contract or not, being enrolled at a university or not) is a major factor in determining your insurance status. For this reason, it is very important that you take note of the information provided in the sections below that apply to you as a doctoral candidate. The only general advice that we can give is that you are recommended to enroll as a doctoral candidate since this comes with considerable benefits in terms of the insurance available to you and its costs.

We would like to emphasize that the information provided below is not legal advice proper but is intended to help you navigate these issues. We have compiled current information from various sources. Even so, each individual candidate is responsible for informing her- or himself of the terms that apply in her or his specific situation.

Health and Long-Term Care Insurance

If you are employed on a TV-H contract (irrespective of whether part-time or full-time or whether the position is funded through the university budget or third-party sources) or any other contract that exceeds the German "mini job" threshold, you are an employee and subject to mandatory health and long-term care insurance.

Doctoral candidates who receive a scholarship or rely on other sources of funding are recommended to obtain voluntary insurance with a statutory or a private health-insurance provider. In this case, it can prove beneficial to compare the rates offered by different insurers. For instance, the insurance premium collected by statutory health-insurance providers is always based on your income. Bear in mind that, unlike students enrolled in study courses leading to a bachelor's, master's, or similar degree, doctoral candidates are not entitled to statutory student health insurance at comparatively low rates. Doctoral candidates have already completed a graduate degree that qualifies for employment and their doctoral studies are therefore more appropriately conceived as a preliminary stage leading to later employment (see the ruling of the Bavarian Landessozialgericht of Feb. 22, 2001, file no. L 4 KR 39/99). Another option can be insurance coverage via family insurance issued to your parents (if you are below age 25) or to your spouse or partner. In this case, a distinction is made between taxable or non-taxable scholarships. If you receive a non-taxable scholarship, you might be eligible for family insurance at no additional cost to you. If your scholarship is taxable, the same applies only if your income is lower than 415 EUR per month. If you hold a mini job, the threshold for free coverage via family insurance is 450 EUR per month.

Private health insurers determine premiums on the basis of statistical factors such as age, sex, and previous health conditions. If you choose to acquire private health insurance, it is always to your financial benefit to be enrolled at a university since this allows you to take advantage of lower student health insurance rates, which are usually available until age 34. Here, too, it pays off to compare the costs of various insurance plans and the services that they offer. When comparing insurances, be sure to not lose sight of the fact that you will be older than 34 at some point. Ask about the costs that await you later on unless you expect to be subject to mandatory insurance by then.

Accident Insurance

Doctoral candidates in employment are insured against accidents during working hours as part of the employment relationship.

Even those who are not contractual employees of Philipps-Universität Marburg are insured against accidents – whether they are enrolled or not – during the time that they are on university premises for the purpose of working on their dissertation (§ 2, para.1, no. 8c SGB VII [German Social Security Code VII]). In these cases, the responsible insurer is the accident insurance carrier for the State of Hesse (§ 128, para. 1, no. 1 and 4 SGB VII – Unfallkasse Hessen). However, this applies only to accidents that occur at Philipps-Universität Marburg.  Should you have an accident, for instance, during a trip to an academic conference outside of Philipps-Universität, you need sufficient private insurance coverage of your own!

Personal Liability Insurance

As a rule, doctoral candidates at Philipps-Universität Marburg have no liability insurance coverage through Philipps-Universität Marburg. You can be held liable in the event of willful damages or damages caused by gross negligence. Employees of Philipps-Universität Marburg enjoy a liability privilege.

Last but not least

Many insurers offer package plans for students that include important types of insurance such as accident, liability, home contents (for second residences), and bicycle or even lost keys insurance.