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Everything posted by Starshollow

  1. Consumer Protection or Fraud complaint agency?

    HI there, first you have to figure out, which is the regulatory authority for that. In most German states it is the IHK (International Chamber of Trade and Commerce). But in some states it is the local "Gewerbeamt" Once you have figured that out, you can launch a direct protest to them. Don't hold your breath..but they might do some auditing. Furthermore you can approach the "Ombudsman". He is actually listed in the "Impressum" (Imprint,disclosure) on their website. That will trigger an investigation and might provide some results...   All in all, consumer protection in Germany is unfortunately at the level of some 3rd world countries (and I don't want to insult these countries...sorry )  Good luck, Cheerio  
  2. Costs for a Versicherungsberater

    Well, this is not going to be easy, I am afraid. You are dealing with a Versicherungsmakler - who is not a Versicherungsberater, whatever he/she says. A Versicherungsmakler is already in a very special legal connection with you because by law he is obligated to act in your best interest first and only (TReuhändischer Sachwalter des Kunden according to highest court decisions BGH) A Versicherungsmakler is also allowed according to the licenses and regulation and loads of court decisions to negotiate and arrange fee-based advice with you, as long as it is not connected with normal commission-based advice anyway. I.e. a Versicherungsmakler must not charge you a fee if on top of that he'll receive a commission from the insurance company anyway, as this would create, among other things, a conflict of interest. Your Versicherungsmakler, though, is offering you advice in a field where no commission is going to be paid to him because the goal is to get you into public health insurance. So far so good. And there is no regulation whatsoever about how high a fee he can demand from you. this is stricly an open-ended deal between you and the Versicherungsmakler, i.e. how much are you willing to pay for his services. Take it, renegotiate (if he is willing to negotiate) or leave it.  A true Versicherungsberater is a very rare species. There are only 300 +/- licensed in Germany. They have attorney-like privileges and are forbidden to accept any commission payments whatsoever. Hence they rely entirely on fees, usually based on the same fee-calculation as lawyers in Germany. But just as lawyers are allowed in Germany to arrange an alternative fee based on hourly costs or flat fees instead, though can Versicherungsberater.    Having said all of the above: a fee of around 2.000 EUR sounds plausible and reasonable from my point of view.    Cheerio  
  3. Switching from Private to Public health Insurance

    ok, this is a real and fully comprehensive German private health insurance indeed and I can tell you definitly, that it is also fully compliant with § 257 Abs 4 SGB V.      You'll just need to ask them to send you an "ARbeitgeberbescheinigung", because that particular document will then contain all this confirmation.   Cheerio  
  4. Switching from Private to Public health Insurance

    That does not sound like a real (!) private German health insurance, I am afraid. Both their inability to send you the confirmation in accordance with § 257 Abs 4 SGB V and the info that there is another yearly renewal starting in May are clear signs that this is a German Expat-insurance (Hanse-Merkur, CareConcept, Mawista or something like that ? ) and not a fully comprehensive German private health insurance. Perhaps you can let us know the exact name of the health insurance plan first ? That way you can get better answers.    Cheerio  
  5. Two different questions related to finance

      Shouldn't whoever set you up with the RIESTER pension plans be the one to answer this for you? Or did you set it up yourself online/directly ?   Not sure about your decision to stop/cancel this, but anyway: if you signed up with a commission-based plan, then yes, you will lose around 30% of what you paid in yourself due to the costs for sales and administration.  and of course also the government subsidy.   Cheerio  
  6. The GENERALI VISION plans is the most beloved cash cow for those usual culprits among the IFAs which target Expats in Germany, especially the CTMNBN. Why: it pays a princly or even royal commission to the "advisor" and the commission is risk free for the advisor. Because the terms and conditons of the plan say, that you HAVE to continue paying your premiums during the initial period no matter what. What does this mean? If and when you have been signing up with a GENERALI VISION plan as your offshore pension plan, there is a so-called initial period which varies based on the duration of the contract period you sign up for. As you can see here, if you sign up for 30 year duration - which is not unknown for pension planning - your first 28 (!!!) premiums go in full into paying "administrative fees and costs" which mainly means commissions.   Now, in the past I have noticed on several occassions that GENERALI in Guernsey demanded continuation of premium payments if a client cancelled early, say after 1 year, until the premiums for the initial period are paid in full. As at that point in time, i.e. the end of the initial period, none of the invested money is left over, it actually means that you have to waste more money...which is fine and dandy for the advisor as it means there is no claw-back of his commissions. And if there is no claw-back in case of early cancellation, there is no incentive for either the advisor or the insurance company to take care that you have been well and dutyfully informed and advised...   The following court decisions, one of which is brand new, can help Generali Vision victims in Germany to get out of the contracts early without too much losses (mind you, there will be always losses)   1. German courts have decided now that it is illegal to continue charging administrative fees if a plan has already been cancelled. In this case, Prisma Life from Liechtenstein, even set up an extra contract/agreement, signed by the clients, to this regards - which also been found illegal and thus not legally valid. If you are in a situation where you just detected that you have been tricked into signing up for such a plan and already paid some money into it but are still way within the initial period, this is your first step to tell the advisors and Generali what to do when they come back and still want to continue charging you - because for you as a German resident the German laws are prevailing and Generalli has to comply to them.   2. So, point 1 helped you to avoid having to continue paying into a plan money that would be entirely lost. But let us assume you already paid in some decent amount of money and of course you want something back. Acording to Generali Vision, 100% of your first premiums during the initial period are lost, i.e. the surrender value for you upon early cancellation is nil. This, too, is illegal under German laws: This link may seem at the beginning to be misleading, as it talk about a victory of the German insurance companies in a court decision. But the victory only was that they can keep back abut 50% max of the already paid premiums. This means on the other side that they always have to pay out at least 50% of the paid/invested premiums, something which Generali Vision so far has always tried to reject. These are high court decision in Germany and you can use them against the IFAs and Generali Guernsey   3. Your last and maybe best point is to declare the whole contract for nil&void for one or several of the following reasons: - Generali Guernsey, the company behind the GEnerali Vision plan, is not registered to operate their business in Germany at the BaFin (Federal finance authority in Germany). This you can check and prove easily by going to the public data bank of BaFin:     As you can see, there is no GEnerali INTERNATIONAL company listed with BaFin:     Therefore they are legally not allowed to be sold/offered to residents of/in Germany in the first place   - secondly, German laws for insurance/investmend advisors require full disclosure of the costs for the plan BEFORE you get the application and in FULL EUR and not in percentage points or inital period months. I have never seen so far any IFA/typical culprit active in Germany to do a proper disclosure and therefore the contracts are not set up in a legally compliant way in Germany.   - on top of that, often the IFAs, too, are not licensed at all to offer insurance or investment advice in Germany. If an IFA approaches you from an office in Germany (it often says so on their website and in their emails or business cards, "Frankfurt office") or if he/she otherwise claims to live in Germany, they have to have the appropriate licenses as advisors under German laws - EU passsporting rights only apply to cross-border activities, not to establishment of branches/offices in other EU countries. You can always check at the DIHK registry here for insurance advice: and for investment advice here: If your advisor or his company are not properly registered there, they are not complying to German laws and thus not allowed to offer advice/sell insurance or investment products.   Based on all these points you have ample reason to fight such a plan and to have declare it nil&void and thus to get all your money back and not just 50%   Obviously, you are best advised if you never sign these plans in the first place---- but too often you will not be aware of the traps and loopholes in the Ts&Cs and the IFAs will never tell you cause they know nobody would evere sign such a thing otherwise.   Wishing you best of luck and tons of nerves if you find yourself in such a situation   Cheerio
  7. Generali Vision can't charge when cancelling early

    with a 22-year plan, all your contributions from the first 23 months went entirely into fees, mostly for the commissions paid out to the sales-people (I utterly reject to call them "financial advisors" because in most cases they are totally lacking even the most rudimentary professional qualification, not to mention the total lack of professional ethics).   So you basically - if you look at the total planned duration - you'll start with a minus of around 10% that you'll have to recuperate before you'll start to make any profit or yield with this plan. Since in my experience the sales-people then get back to the clients every couple of months with the recommendation to shift (sell and buy a-new) their investment funds or simply recommend overly expensive actively managed fund and very high-priced (and risky) derivatives like autocallable notes, it will be hard to make any profit anyway. This is why so many "clients" find out after some years, that despite growing stock markets etc their investment/pension plan has not even broken even yet.   IMO - unless you'll get in writing the exact amount of bonus-payments you can expect if you stay in the plan - it is better to cut your losses and get out of these money-traps and get yourself a decent and really qualified advisor to set you up either with a REAL pension plan or, if such a pension plan is actually not in your best interest, a simple investment portfolio based on passive investment funds like ETFs or funds from Dimensional (which are also passive investment funds, but with a bit of a science-based twist, but still significantly lower in costs than those expensive actively-managed investment funds).   Cheerio  
  8. Pension Refund for German Citizens !!!

    No, any German (and AFAIK also all EU-citizen) have no right to claim back any contributions to GErman state/public pension whatsoever. it is not anything you needed to apply or ask for, it is a matter of law and citizenship.  You'll have an irrefutable claim for your public pension payouts when you reach retirement age. That's about it.  Cheerio  
  9. Generali Vision can't charge when cancelling early

    not sure if these dates are correct? Did you start in 2007 or in 2017 ? If you did start in 2007, there is no reason or need to continue paying into the plan, nor can they charge you for your plan any further...unless in the last 2 years or so you agreed to an increase in the monthly contributions?   Be that as it may: if you have a chance to recuperate the lost money will mostly depend on two things in my experience from dealing with a large number of "victims": 1) that you can prove that the sales to you violated local consumer protection laws (i.e. that the plan was ill-advised to be sold to you, the salesperson was not disclosing all relevant information as required by local laws and regulations and that the plan was not even allowed/licensed to be offered and sold to you in your country of residence for lack of registration/licensing of the plan under local laws and regulations) 2) your personal persistence and how far and long you are prepared to go in order to get your money back.   Usually, your chances are best if the sales-organization that was responsible for selling you this was/is still active in your country of residence. Because they will not like this to become public or them getting audited by the local regulatory authorities. But you have to take a stand and keep willing to threaten them with exposure, legal steps and particularly convince them, that you take this to the end with a lot of publicity involved thru Social Media. Some folks I know who live in Africa even started their own website (off-line since their settlement) in order to expose the illegalities of the sales-company etc and that, after some time and a lot of threatening legal letters and all, convinced the company to settle with them in full. But the WILL try to brush you off, scare you off and a lot of things have to be prepared for that.    Cheerio  
  10. Switching National to Private Insurance

    hi there - sorry, am fully booked out for the rest of the day. You can send me a message by PM here or thru the contact form  of our website. BVF GmbH is an insurance broker. They have a particularily strong need to demonstrate how they advised you in YOUR best interest. And provide notes to this regards.  With the other broker company: since you mentioned that you received some papers (by email?) to sign and then returned them again signed, you should have, IMO, a 14-days cooling-off period, i.e. the right to step back from the contract. Best would be to send them a new email, followed by a registered letter, that you signed this contract in error, assuming they were Versicherungsberater. You just learned that they are only Versicherungsmakler and you don't see how they can adequately represent you against the other broker and the insurance company. therefore you'll make use of your right to "Widerruf" the contract forthwith.   Cheerio  
  11. Switching National to Private Insurance

      ok, the fact that you have been taken advantage off is, sadly enough, a re-occurring theme here on Toytown.  It is unfortunately very easy  to trick someone who does not know the lingo nor the insurance sales systems in Germany and some people have no ethics whatsoever.  You are not alone in this abysmal experience, but that won't really help you, I fear...   Ok, here is what you need to do: 1. find out definitely if the lady who sold you the insurance is an insurance agent (tied-agent or multi-tied agent) or an insurance broker because your legal position differs vastly depending on what status she has.  2. Don't continue to deal with this second intermediary any further. This is an insurance broker and yes, he can do some insuance consulting work for a fee, but he is not an insurance consultant (Versicherungsberater). The latter kind of insurance advisors are a rare thing n Germany but very important for you because they do have a professional status which puts them on par with solicitors/lawyers in many ways. The only thing the Versicherungsberater can't do for you is present you in court, but other than that, he has many legal rights in representing you that an insurance broker does not have. Since you are facing dire consequences here, I would definitlly not recommend using another broker-colleague for this kind of job but only an Versicherungsberater. I can tell you one or two where we have a good experience from our clients when they needed such services.    The Versicherungsberater will first test what kind of legal status the insurance selling lady had or has. Plus certain documents she is required to have and to provide, which include, for instance, a documentation of the advice process.  This will be crucial in order to be able to see if you have any chances against her in case of this going to court. Since you have nothing in writing that you informed her about your medical condition, it will be kinda hard to prove that she knowingly misled you and the insurance company. But still, since you had been with public insurance beforehand for some time, due dilligence may well have required here to get a statement from your public insurance for the past years to see, what kind of treatments you received. Filling out all questions for health with NO is usually already a bad sign and hints to malpractice IMO. But this is something the Versicherungsberater can take care of better than I can describe here.   So, long story short. Forget about the second guy and his fee of 2.000 EUR plus VAT - he simply is not qualified like a Versicherungsberater and should not meddle in such things. Get yourself a good Versicherungsberater NOW and let him or her analyze your situation properly and help you to get out of this mess.   Cheerio  
  12. @msimos: there are three different kinds of insurance intermediaries in Germans with very different roles, legal positions (i.e. rights and responsibilities) and it's worth knowing the difference in order to make sure you understand with whom you deal in a given situation. Check out our info-Video on YouTube here: Insurance agents, insurance brokers and insurance consultants in Germany   an insurance agent (and many are so-called multi-tied agents even) is not necessarily bad for a client and a broker not necessarily good. Individual ethics and professionalism still play an important role. Having said that: the legal situations is very different. If you get bad advice from an insurance agent, you'll have more or less to prove how and why the advice was indeed malpractice. A broker is required by law and a large number of high-court decisions in Germany to act as a fiduciary for the client, he is acting as a "treuhänderischer Sachwalter der Kundeninteressen" as the federal high court stated. Therefore the broker has to prove that the advice given was in your best interest...a very different legal situation and a much higher liability on the side of the broker. Of course, there are also the Versicherungsberater (insurance consultants) who work entirely fee-based and just advise you in finding the best/most suitable insurance for you. You'll then need to go out to purchase it yourself, but based on strictly independent advice.    Cheerio  
  13. HI there,  with some insurances, what you pay is what you get... therefore you don't want to go "cheap" on the 3rd party liability insurance, especially since the difference between a real cheap-one (with below-standard basic coverage and many important features missing in coverage) and a really good one is only 30-40 EUR per year. YEAR - as in perhaps 3 EUR and change per month. :-)   Furthermore: yes, you can sign up for such an insurance on internet platforms.  However, then you'll have to deal with the insurance company yourself in case of you needing to file a claim. Which is no fun at all.  Especially if you are not fluent in German-style insurance lingo.   My advice: go to a respected insurance broker (and not an agent!!!) who can and will get you the best from the market. Meaning from the very good insurance plans with top-coverage the one where you get the most for your money. The insurance will then cost you around 60-80 EUR per year, so a bit more than what you stated above. But it will make a huge difference in what is covered (and yes, it does not make much difference if the coverage amount is 10 or 50 Million, but certain areas of coverage can make an important difference, read more about what is really important and essential in English here: ) and at the same time, you'll have the full support from the insurance broker in case you ever need to use your insurance...for free.   another option I would be unfair not to mention are some of the very new insurtec start-ups which claim to offer totally online-based services for just this kind of insurance. I am still a bit skeptical about this, as it has not been means-tested much and long-enough to offer convincing data and I am not going to have my clients play guinea-pigs for Hipsters trying to get in a few millions worth of investor grants with half-baked insurance solutions. But if you are into hip new app-based insurance solution, ONE might be an interesting alternative for you.   Cheerio  
  14. Back payments for pension

    Nope, that is not possible AFAIK.   For your naturalization process - and as a self-employed - you'll be better off if you do start a private pension plan (often a RÜRUP/BASIS-pension plan is requested by the Ausländeramt) which will accrue a certain amount of capital when you reach pension age. What amount is required differs from city to city and state to state in Germany.  But it does replace the need for 60+ months contributions into public/state pension entirely.   Cheerio  
  15. A Brit, obviously an Afghanistan-veteran of the British forces, saved the life of a child in Sauerlach a few days ago! The boy was by accident fallen into the rails and the Brit jumped down and saved him before the incoming train could kill him. But he did not come out before public media asked for it... a true hero He is apparently going thru the apprenticeship of a stonemason. so if you live in the hood, you might want to give him your business?   Cheerio  
  17. English description of german terms for "Investment charges"

        Capital gains tax
  18. if you are talking about Defined Benefit Scheme (DB)  or a Defined Contribution Scheme (DC) or even a SIPP, then yes - this is possible, works and is a means-tested process.  there is at least 1 excellent German pension insurance company that is fully QROPS-compliant and can be used as a destination for such a transfer. And while a lot of very bad "offshore" products have been sold by snakeoil-salesmen to unsuspecting Expats in the past 10 years or so, there are actually a few good plans available that are commission free and very transparent in costs on Malta, for instance.  Whether a transfer to Germany or Malta is better for you depends on many different factors and your personal goals and wishes. Since you'll need a financial advisor anyway in order to get the transfer processed, you might as well get in touch with an independent, strictly fee-based advisor right from the beginning in order to determine if a transfer is really the best idea for you? And if so, where to the transfer should go in order to be in line with your wishes and goals.  
  19. it is indeed an ongoing discussion with public insurances how the "Beschäftigung" and the prior insurance status are dealt with. One issue at hand here is that if you came from a EU-memberstate with state/national health insurance and decided NOT to continue this with German public insurance, you basically "opted out" from public health insurance which was open to you then.  From opting out there is no easy way back into the system. One could argue and make legal points as PandaMunich correctly shows above, but it might turn into a lengthy legal battle. Easiest way is and remains to pick up an employment initially with a gross salary below the legal threshold (called: Jahresarbeitsentgeltgrenze... never play scrabble with Germans :-)   ) and thus become compulsorily insured in public health insurance...which then allows you to continue in your own right as a voluntary member shortly after that when your gross salary increases over the threshold.   Cheerio  
  20.   are you eligible for receiving unemployment benefits (after your SPERRZEIT for quitting yourself) ? If that would be the case, why don't you wait with legally starting your own business until you have been at least a few weeks with unemployment benefits if your goal is to get into public health insurance? Because when you start to receive unemployment benefits, you'll be switched automatically (unless you dispute this) into public insurance. And since August 2013 and the introduction of the "Obligatorische Anschlußversicherung" you can then switch from this compulsory public insurance to the status of voluntary public insurance (which is always the case with self-employed) after just a short while (legally speaking: a day even would be enough in compulsory public insurance membership). Obviously, you must qualify for unemployment benefits both from having paid in long-enough (sounds to me that it is the case here) and to be "available" for the employment market...which means you have to abstain from starting your new business just for a short while.   Cheerio  
  21. Some questions about US taxes

    Kudos to @Straightpoop once again... great answer and information from the true US-tax expert on Toytown !   Cheerio  
  22. Freelancer with spouse who is a permanent employee

    AFAIK the exemption during the first three years is open to every new/first-time starting self-employed, regardless of whether you'll start with just one client or several clients. Of course if you start with several clients, there may not be so much need for this, but in the end it is safer to apply for the exemption in case you find yourself after a short-while with just one (main) client left anyway.   Cheerio  
  23. Tax deductions for pension and health insurance

      do you have public or private health insurance ? (and are you an employee or self-employed/contracting?) what kind of pension insurances are we talking about ? Public pension, RIESTER, RÜRUP/Basis, bAV (company pension) or just a private pension in Germany or anywhere else in the world ?    If you'd read the prior thread, as PandaMunich suggested, you'd know that this is the min. information required in order to give you any valuable reply at all.    Cheerio  
  24. ETF Sparplan vs. ETF Rentenversicherung

    I agree with your general comment - however, if you take a wee bit of time to look deeper into the scientific background of DFA (Dimensional Fund Advisors) based on findings of  Kenneth French and Eugen Fama (nobel laureate)  who is also part of the company. while it is "only" a passive investment fund, i.e. not into stock picking, they do overvalue the top quartile of value stocks, small caps and also apply parameters like momentum with a higher degree than the actual index. While their costs are marginally higher than pure ETF (and we are talking about fully replicating funds here only), they are still far away from actively managed funds and their costs. Depending on the underlying index, they have been outperforming for a long past by and large at around 1-2 % p.a. in comparison to the indexes. But they are entirely relying on a buy-and-hold strategy only, which is why they only work thru accredited advisors (which we are).   Here are just some key-points:   and here some videos:   It is no mumbo-jumbo, no witch-craft. A basically very simple strategy at the end...   Cheerio  
  25. ETF Sparplan vs. ETF Rentenversicherung

    if you want to build up capital per se, staying with a simple ETF savings plan is your best option when comparing costs and all (you might want to check out Dimensional Fund Advisors as an interesting alternative to pure ETFs, because they offer also only passive investment funds but with a (scientific) twist).   A pension plan makes sense if you want to lock in a certain guarantee for pension in retirement, i.e. take care of the "risk of longevity". While it sounds absurd to consider the chance to live long as a risk, it is one from a financial point of view. Because if you start using up your savings in retirement based on average life expectancy and end up living longer, you could find yourself in a situation where the money has run out when you have still a lot of life left. This is exactly what a pension plan is made - and taking care of that risk comes with a price (i.e. costs) on the insurance side. Hence in direct comparison, a pension insurance is inherently more expensive than a simple ETF savings plan.   There are some pension plans in Germany (you can find details about them here on our website: Company Pension - bAV , RIESTER pension  and RÜRUP pension ) that offer some tax incentives for setting up such pension plans. However, tax benefits always come with some rules and regulations that reduce the flexibilty of use of the invested capital. Therefore these plans only make sense if you are willing and prepared to put money away long-term for the sole purpose of having a pension in retirement paid out to you.    In order to figure out, how much in savings and pension plans you need, you could play around with our Pension Calculator a bit if you like: Pension Calculator LIGHT by CR&Cie   Cheerio