[health insurance] Ottonova - anyone have experience with them?

24 posts in this topic

On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

HI MaggieQuigs,

thank you for pitching in here and disclosing properly your affiliation with Ottonova.

Before I offer some thoughts and criticism below I would like to point out that I am personally a big fan of new development in the insurance world, including some of the insurtecs currently on the market. And there is certainly room in the German health insurance landscape for a more service-friendly and digital health insurance in the long run.


It's great to have this chance to discuss some of our more common critiques! Thanks for raising these points, let's see what we can do here:


On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

my esteemed colleague Sven Hennig has made a thourough analysis of the Ottonova terms&conditions and found them lacking in several areas of importance compared to many others on the market. Not sure if this has been already addressed and remedied by Ottonova in the meantime?



Thanks  for mentioning your friend Sven Hennig! Yes, his feedback was very thorough, and at the time of our launch, some of his findings were also accurate! However, in the eleven months since he published his first analysis, lots of features have been changed, and we can confidently say that all of the points he made have since been taken care of - we offer "Antwartschaft," or Entitlement; our top-up insurances are up and running; our "Beamte" tariff will be out in summer, but that doesn't apply to many expats. And finally, as both you and he mentioned, we don't offer objective advisory regarding other health insurance companies. But I'm not aware of any other health insurance companies who advise their customers to go elsewhere. That being said, with features like our Online Advisor, we do advise people to consider the Public Insurance System if it might be a better fit for their life situation. And for anyone who calls and speaks to one of our sales associates, they'd get the exact same information to help them make the right choice for their financial and family situation.


On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

This is certainly valuable for some folks as an additional service of a health insurance. However, at the core of a decision that is having long-term consequences, other parameters of a health insurance are more important in the selection process, among them the actual terms&conditions (AVBs) and track records from the past (which, understandably, a new health insurance company can't have). Also financial consideration like future financial stability etc. should play a major role in the decision making process. 

We agree! Health insurance is one of the most important choices you can make in life, and especially for expats, where so many choices are made based on trust, we don't underestimate the importance of stability. But if you've seen our website or done some research, you've probably seen that we're backed by Debeka, Germany's largest private health insurance company. We're also approved by the BaFin, which is no easy feat. I'm sure you know all about this process, but for readers who don't, the BaFin has an extremely strenuous application process. We've proven our longterm viability based on our business planning, our total investments (more than 40 million in the first year alone), and our health insurance plans, which are made to offer premium coverage. (Assekurata, an objective ratings portal, has given our First Class tariff a rating of 1.2, "Very Good.")


And while it's true that we may not be able to claim a long-term track record, I'd look to companies like n26 who are changing another outdated industry. 

On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

that is good to know. However with currently only far below 1.000 insured clients at Ottonova (and how many employees?), your experience with the real Expat health insurance world in Germany does not appear to be too deep, if you'll allow me that comment. We, as a specialized broker for Expats in Germany have helped more than 2.500 Expats in the past years to find the right health insurance in Germany.

Der 2017 gestartete digitale private Krankenversicherer Ottonova hat bisher eine dreistellige Zahl von Vollversicherten im Bestand und rechnet damit, bis Ende des Jahres vierstellig zu werden (Source: Versicherungsmonitor, April 19th 2018)

As a longtime Toytown user myself, I've seen your contributions here before, and I think it's wonderful that you've helped 2,500 expats find the right health insurance. Within our team, we have countless professionals with decades of experience in the health insurance industry - Allianz, Central, Bayerische Beamte Krankenkasse, Süddeutsche Krankenversicherung, Inter Krankenversicherung. I'd say we've got a pretty great team of smart people on board!
But isn't it your duty to consider all options for your customers? Seeing as you mentioned that you're a big fan of digitalization and tech updates for the insurance field, I'd invite you to take a closer look at our tariffs and see if we might not be a good fit for some of your customers! As far as I understand, it's a Makler's job to help his customer find the best possible option, right?
On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

Well, I understand that you are technically an insurance agent and therefore cannot offer independent advice.

This confused me a bit. ottonova is a BaFin licensed insurance company, not an insurance agent or Makler. I hope this clears things up! (Also, I work in content marketing - also not a Makler ^_^)


On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

But folks here on Toytown have learned over many years that there are also a lot of disadvantages when signing up with private health insurance. For instance that it is legally a one-way-road and one cannot get back to public health insurance later easily just because one wishes or decides so. 

It also needs to be mentioned that all dependent family members are covered without extra costs in public health insurance, whereas in private health insurance each family member requires their own coverage and therefore come at extra costs.


If you like to have real quality and easier access to some specialists then yes, private health insurance can be the right decision for you. But the pros and cons need to be explained and discussed in detail before you make such a decision. This is where an independent broker comes in as a valuable source of information and advice.

There are plenty of reasons to carefully consider the decision of Public versus Private insurance. And as I mentioned above, we help people to choose the right option for them, since it's also in our best interest to have long-term customers who truly believe in what they're signing up for! As you know, this is a huge choice! But for expats who will only be here for up to 5 years, our Expat tariff offers the best coverage at an excellent price, without requiring temporary residents to pay into the social system. 
On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:


I checked this on your website. Unfortunately, I could not find the full terms&conditions...which would be important in order to evaluate this new Expat insurance properly and in detail. Perhaps you can send me/us the link?


For the link to our tariff tables, please visit here: https://www.ottonova.de/expat-tariff 
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to write and we can arrange a call, or perhaps even a meeting here in Munich to discuss your concerns!
On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

The first thing I noticed is the 10% deductible. If I understand it correctly, these 10% are on all medical treatments, inpatient and outpatient, right?   Is this capped at 5.000 EUR max per year as required by law ? And how is this applied in cases of a chronical illness that requires long-term weekly or even more often treatments like dialysis to give just one example?

Regarding our maximum deductible, this is capped at 10% to a maximum of 500 € per year, payable by the customer. Alternatively, customers can also select a deductible of 25% with a maximum capped at 1250 € per year. Everything that exceeds this maximum will be covered, according to the tariff.


On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

he real problem with this tariff, however, is this: a growing number of Ausländeramt (immigration offices) in Germany demand for VISA/residence permits of fully occupied or self-employed Expats that the health insurance has to be computed like a life-insurance (i.e. in accordance with § 257 Abs 1 SGB V). This Expat-tarif, just like for instance CareConcept, Mawista or Globality, though, fails to meet this requirement. It is therefore a risk that the immigration offices in for instance Berlin or Hamburg will reject this. Also, because they have set in their documents often a ridiculously low deductible of 300 EUr per year or less...which does not compute well with your general 10% deductible-clause because it does not set such upper limits.


And, to make things worse, the vast majority of private German health insurance companies - as I know from many years of frustrating discussions and long-term experience - will not consider such a health insurance as your Expat health insurance plan to be fully compliant under German law and therefore levy backcharges




 Unless Ottonova can issue a firm guarantee that clients insured in the Expat-tariff can switch at any time and without problems/hurdles (like an additional health check or exclusions of meanwhile existing medical conditions), this health insurance plan brings a lot of planning risks and uncertainties with it in the future. At the very least, this information must be provided as part of the advice process to Expats so that they can make an educated decision about this risk.

We can and do ensure that expats can switch into our Full Insurance plan at any time, without requiring an additional Gesundheitsrisikoprüfung, or health check, etc. We advise all expats we talk to, to notify us immediately when they believe that they'll be staying in the country for longer than 5 years. And to your point regarding the requirements for insurance, our in-house experts have done their homework to ensure that this plan is accepted by the authorities.


On 26.4.2018, 16:04:51, Starshollow said:

Quite nice, I am sure. But others do that as well...plus specialized brokers like we are there to explain everything to clients and assist them in cases of claims etc.    

While a personalized touch is appreciated by many customers, one of the main benefits of digital services is the option to circumvent conversations with brokers and similar parties. We offer 24/7 support through our Concierge Service, which means we're always reachable. But for those who want to prioritize digital services, our insurances fill that niche.
Thank you for raising these points - I know they're very interesting to the readers here!
All the best,

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@MaggieQuigs Thanks for your contribution to the topic!


PS, OT, while I'm waiting for quote from @Starshollow, from my recent experience with TK. So some time ago a GP gave me prescription for 2 osteopathic treatments. I had to go to TK office to get them to sign that. Frustrating already. They did sign. That gives me right to claim 50% of costs of those 2 visits. Luckily you can do that online by uploading the scans of documents. But TK have reimbursed only the 1st visit and refused the 2nd (I went to different doctor for the 2nd time because the 1st one didn't seem to be a pro). The explanation TK gave me was that the 2nd doc wasn't on their list of approved ones. Say what? Why didn't you tell me in advance I asked them? How am I supposed to know? Now that's what I call bad customer experience. 


BTW. I know I don't understand the full spectrum of the problem, the costs that insurance company have etc. and luckily I never had to be treated for anything serious... but in Ireland my insurance covered, like, virtually every specialist you can imagine, and it was 4 times cheaper. Why o why?


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Hey @Pavo! No problem, I hope this was helpful!


I'm sorry to hear about your current TK situation... They're an excellent provider, but situations like this could happen with any insurance. 

I spoke to my colleagues here to get a sense of how we might be able to help. It was recommended that you might just need additional documents from your osteopath - perhaps a documentation of their certification as a Heilpraktiker, or their certification in the Verband of Osteopathen. Talk to TK and see if that would help the situation!


As for your question about why the German system is so expensive... of course, you might not have been expecting a real answer but we thought we might shed some light on the situation. It can be so frustrating to pay for something and not know what exactly you're paying for ...! We did a little research into the Irish system to offer you a comparison, and it seems like it's mainly financed by taxes rather than premium contributions. This can obviously make a big difference when it comes to treatments and resources. In Germany, we have more doctors per patient, a guaranteed Krankentagegeld, or daily sickness allowance after six weeks of sick leave from work, very low waiting times for operations, etc. So even if you might not (knock on wood!) need to make use of the health system yet, it's good to know what your premiums are paying for! 

At this website, you can compare the Irish and German systems - it's an objective site from the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.


Also, if osteopathy is very important to you, this website (sorry it's in German!) tells you which health insurance provider offers reimbursement for osteopathy, and how much. I can't promise that it's up to date, but it's a good baseline resource if you're considering other providers.


i hope this helps! 


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I think the TK website makes it clear only some Osteopaths are recognised.  




And don't forget that the system of funding of healthcare is different here.  About 75 - 80 percent of cost is covered by general taxation in Ireland with (subsidised) fees for those not eligible for a Medical Card.  Private insurance covers these, and other things such as Osteopathy and perks like quick access to consultants.


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