Since last month, I apparently now can break things, blow up things, damage things, accidentally. Well, sort of. I signed up for liability insurance (German: Haftpflichtversicherung, try to pronounce that), and apparently, pretty much everyone here in Germany has that. I didn't know until recently. Well, I sort of did (my bank manager told me early 2013), but just ignored it, until my friends also told me in such an alarming manner, as if I needed to drop whatever it was I was doing and sign up for one. So I did.
So what is this insurance about? Well, it basically protects me from whatever accidental damage I might cause. If I accidentally bump someone on the street and that causes this person to fall and break their legs and be paralyzed, then my liability insurance covers it (except for the first 150 EUR, which I opted to cover myself). If I accidentally drop someone's phone from the table and it breaks, then my liability insurance can cover that. And after shopping around (there are search engines for insurance the same way as there are search engines for flights), I decided on one policy, which is valid for a year, and costs only less than 40 EUR.
I figured, for the peace of mind that it buys me (and my friends), I guess it was worth it.
Oh well, accidents do happen, though I cannot recall when it happened the last time at least for me. That being said, even though the probability is low, it is still there, and I would rather have peace of mind than a big headache later.
I guess what I find interesting is how living in different locales present you with different things to attend to. I never had liability insurance when I was living in the US. I suppose the insurance culture there works differently. Here, everything seems to be institutionalized, from pension and retirement plans to insurance benefits. There's a lot of technical terms I needed to learn! As I was signing up for liability insurance, I had to decide whether I needed only single-person coverage or whether there is a child involved, or perhaps I would want to have my dog covered as well, in case my dog attacked someone on the street and caused an accident. Not that I had a dog.
Anyway, you do learn a lot, by living. So in case you happen to move to Germany in the future, you have to get liability insurance, or else someone might accidentally do something nasty, and cause you a headache.