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Compulsory insurance

Under certain circumstances, even freelancers are subject to compulsory insurance. In this section you will find out what special features apply to liberal professions with licence requirements with regard to the following insurances:

The question of self-employment plays a key role when classifying within the individual classes of insurance. Freelancers often work as employees for companies on a freelance basis. Employees working on a freelance basis however are not automatically “true” self-employed people, as they can also be in a dependent employment.

Please make sure both as an employer and also as a contractor that the activity does not become a so-called "pseudo self-employment”, where in reality there is an employment relationship and the contractor becomes dependent on the employer as if he/she were an employee. If there are any queries regarding social security classification of an occupation as a self-employed activity, the status determination procedure (Statusfeststellungsverfahren) of the Deutschen Rentenversicherung Bund (Alliance of German Pension Insurance Companies) will provide legal certainty for all those involved.

Tip: In addition to the insurances described below, you should always also think about concluding occupational disability insurance, unless this is already covered by a membership in the occupational pension schemes. It might also be advisable to conclude company insurances (e.g. pecuniary damage liability insurance, business interruption insurance and insurance covering the operating costs). Self-employed freelancers in specific professions (e.g. auditors) are even obliged to conclude pecuniary damage liability insurance. Read the GründerZeiten brochure “Company Insurances” (Broschüre "GründerZeiten: Betriebliche Versicherungen") of the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie for more in-depth information.

Pension insurance

Members of the liberal professions, who are self-employed and for whom membership in a chamber is obligatory (e.g. doctors, architects, lawyers, tax consultants) are subject to pension insurance contributions in the occupational pension schemes. They are exempt from paying insurance to the statutory pension insurance.

Freelancers working as employees – even though the dependent manner in which they exercise their profession also requires membership in a chamber – are generally subject to pension insurance contributions in the statutory pension insurance. Upon request, you can however get yourself exempted from this compulsory insurance in favour of the relevant occupational pension schemes. It is sufficient only to be insured in the occupational pension schemes.

You will find more detailed information on membership in the individual occupational pension schemes in the corresponding procedure descriptions.

Certain freelancers from other professions, for whom membership in a chamber is not obligatory, are subject to pension insurance contributions. Amongst others they include:

· Self-employed teachers and pre-school teachers/educators, who do not employ staff which is subject to social insurance contributions

  • Self-employed carers, who do not employ staff which is subject to social insurance contributions
  • Self-employed midwives and male midwives
  • Self-employed persons, who do not employ staff which is subject to social insurance contributions and who work mainly only for one customer

Tip: In addition, you also have the possibility to have private pension coverage. In section "Private Pension Coverage for Freelancers" (Private Altersvorsorge für Freiberufler) on the website of the Bundesverband der Freien Berufe you will find more information.

Health and nursing care insurance

Self-employed freelancers are generally not compulsorily insured in the statutory health and nursing care insurance. In certain circumstances, they can be insured in the statutory health and nursing care insurance as a voluntary member or contribute to a private insurance.

Furthermore, since April 2007 persons without any other health insurance coverage are subject to compulsory insurance in the statutory health insurance, if amongst other things they were last covered by statutory health insurance. This compulsory insurance also applies to self-employed persons.

Accident insurance

Work accidents and occupational diseases are insured claims.   Work accidents not only include accidents suffered in the company while carry out the actual work, but also travel accidents (covering the distance from your home to your place of work and back).

There is only compulsory insurance for some professions (e.g. for midwives and male midwives, nurses and geriatric nurses, physiotherapist and speech therapist). In this case, when starting the activity you have to register with the responsible employer’s liability insurance association.

Incidentally, freelancers are at liberty to conclude a voluntary accident insurance with their responsible employer’s liability insurance association.

As employers, freelancers are obliged to insure their employees in an accident insurance accordingly.

Tip: The brochure “Occupational Accident Insurance for Liberal Professions” (Broschüre "Berufsunfallversicherung der Freien Berufe") provides further information on this subject area and also a list of the most important employer’s liability insurance associations.

Unemployment insurance

Since February 2006, self-employed persons also have the possibility to contribute to the unemployment insurance. This is an optional continued insurance. More information can be found in the procedure description.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Finanz- und Wirtschaftsministerium, the Sozialministerium and the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg released it on 16.11.2016. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts. In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.