I had a funny situation with my insurance here in Germany.

Background: I moved my main bank account to another bank in January 2019. I immediately noticed my private insurance company of that and gave a new SEPA mandate for the new account. In December 2019 the fees for the year 2019 were due. I received a letter that my bank declined the charge and that I should transfer the money myself. Also they immediately included overdue fines.

I was able to solve the problem. The mistake was on the insurances side. They had my new account in their system, but somehow they still tried to charge the old, now non existant, account again.

Everything is sorted out now, but one thing bugs me:

I thought that a company has to give one free notice first before they are allowed to charge overdue fines. Is that true or are they allowed to charge fines immediately? They told me that it is common practice to charge as soon as the payment is not received at the day it should be received. The fines were about 3% of the regular charge.

Funny addition, when they charged my new bank account, they still tried to charge the overdue fines, which I rejected. Now they told me it would be technically impossible for them to remove the overdue fines, they will charge my account again, including the fines and then they will refund the fines. (Which I will monitor really closely...)

Everything about this is pretty weird, in my opinion, but the main question is: Can a company (or insurance if there are special rules for that) charge overdue fines immediately without prior notice?

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