Institutions of the German accident insurance system

The statutory accident insurance institutions, the BGs and the public-sector accident insurers (UKs), are incorporated under public law. In the fulfilment of their statutory duties, they are managed by an autonomous administration in which representatives elected by employers and insured individuals (employees) enjoy equal rights. Social elections are held every six years in which the employers and insured individuals elect their delegates to the representatives' meeting of the relevant accident insurance institution.

The Representatives' Meeting adopts the charter and by-laws of the autonomous administration, and elects the Governing Committee, on which employers' and employees' representatives likewise serve in equal numbers. The administration of each accident insurance institution is headed by a Managing Director. He or she advises the Governing Committee and is responsible for administrative business. The task of legal supervision of all institutions lies with the state.

The institutions of the autonomous administration adopt:

  • The budget
  • The staffing schedule of the administrations
  • The hazard tariff, which classifies the branches of industry into premium classes according to the scale of their compensation payments

These measures are to assure the greatest possible transparency of costs and expenditure. Employers' and insured individuals' representatives are also party to decisions concerning compensation payments (pensions).

BGs responsible for the private sector
The institutions for statutory accident insurance and prevention (BGs) are organized on sectoral lines. The German term "Berufsgenossenschaft" (of which "BG" is the abbreviation) dates back to the origins of the accident insurance system, and refers to the fact that companies in similar areas of business (sectors) formed self-administrating alliances in order to provide a common accident insurance.

The BGs are responsible for the businesses in the industrial sector, around three million in number, with millions of insured employees and numerous other insured parties, such as entrepreneurs who are insured voluntarily, and persons undergoing rehabilitation measures for their duration.

Insurers for public institutions
Most of the public-sector accident insurers (Unfallkassen, abbreviation "UK") are generally responsible for one particular German region. The public-sector accident insurers responsible for the fire services each serve several regions; conversely, those for the railway services, the postal and telecommunications services, and the insurer of the Federal authorities themselves operate at national level. Around 28 million people, including all children in schools, nursery schools and after-school care centres, and students in higher education, fall within the responsibility of the public-sector accident insurers.