Ulrich Wortberg from the Rhineland-Palatinate Consumer Center explains what the BGH ruling on unlawful increases in private health insurance premiums means in an interview tagesschau.de.
tagesschau.de: How important is the latest BGH ruling for all privately insured persons?
Ulrich Wortberg: The court ruling is important for all insured persons in private health insurance insofar as it forces insurers to make the reasons for premium increases more understandable, more transparent and more comprehensible. But it will not prevent insurers from significantly increasing the premiums in private health insurance in the future. It also makes it clear that in the future, insurers will still not have to make their calculations so open that laypeople can understand them from front to back.
tagesschau.de: Is it now worth filing a complaint against earlier premium increases? And if so, for whom?
Wortberg: Unfortunately, there is no general answer to these questions. But you shouldn’t rush anything here and proceed in several steps. Firstly, insured persons should wait to find out what the individual reasons for the judgment of the BGH are and look for the insurers’ own letters on the premium increases in recent years.
Second, they should check these letters to see whether they too are to be classified as ineffective according to the reasons given by the BGH. The consumer advice centers are planning to create advisory aids with sample letters as soon as the reasons for the judgment are available.
Third, they should try to get the increases reversed through extrajudicial means. A lawsuit is definitely worthwhile for those insured in the companies directly affected by the judgment. If you have found that your own contribution increases have not been lawfully brought about, you should consider taking legal action if they are unbearably high. When this is the case can only be determined in relation to the income and / or the pension of each individual.
tagesschau.de: Is the whole thing a zero-sum game in the end, because the insurance companies will get back possible repayments with the next premium increase?
Wortberg: The companies have to adhere to the legal and now also judicial requirements with regard to premium increases. It may be that in the long run you can get the increases again. But that will not “just happen” with the next letter of increase. In any case, the increases can be delayed over a number of years.
tagesschau.de: Do insured persons now have to be careful not to fall for dubious companies or law firms who want to press them into lawsuits?
Wortberg: Yes, we do indeed see this risk based on the experience after the major litigation regarding life insurance or after the legal changes to change tariffs in private health insurance. Nobody who is now called or written to by anyone without being asked should sign an order for alleged help without checking and rashly. The same applies of course to unsolicited advertising on the Internet or social media. After all, nobody buys a new television or a new car just because the seller calls them without asking. In the best case scenario, nothing happens. In the worst case, it can happen that you throw hundreds of euros or more out of the window with no equivalent.
The interview was conducted by Angela Göpfert, tagesschau.de.