Insurance in Switzerland
What types of insurance are mandatory in Switzerland? What types of policy are necessary or advisable to have for good insurance cover?
This article gives you an overview of the Swiss insurance landscape. We will begin with compulsory, legally required insurance policies that everyone living here must have.
The second part of the article introduces the optional insurance policies available in Switzerland, and highlights which ones are standard, despite being optional.
Some forms of insurance are compulsory for everyone living in Switzerland. Insurance marked as compulsory are legally required for Swiss residents.
All insurance companies are obliged to insure customers, and all offer exactly the same basic benefits. The compulsory forms of insurance in Switzerland are:
- Basic health insurance
- Accident insurance
- Motor vehicle insurance for vehicle owners
- Buildings liability insurance for homeowners
Persons in employment are required to contribute to three further forms of mandatory insurance, collectively known as social security. These are the state pension, accident insurance, and disability insurance, respectively known in German/French as AHV/AVS, IV/AI, and ALV/AC contributions. Payments are made automatically - social security contributions are deducted directly from employees' pay. Hello Switzerland offers a separate, detailed introduction to the Swiss pension system.
Good to know: even where insurance is not compulsory, it may still be advisable to look for additional coverage options. For example, third-party liability insurance is optional, but is one of the standard forms of insurance normally held by every adult citizen.
Basic health insurance
Basic health insurance covers treatment costs for sickness, accidents and maternity services. This includes recognized medicines, laboratory tests, transportation and prevention. New residents must acquire basic health insurance within the first three months of moving to Switzerland. Even those staying for less than three months are required to acquire basic health insurance unless they have equivalent coverage under a foreign insurance scheme.
Dental treatment is not covered by basic health insurance, but can be covered under supplementary health insurance policies.
Basic health insurance includes various options, including deductibles/franchises and different insurance models. The following points should be noted:
- The standard deductible is CHF 300 per year. The cost of medical services and medicines up to this amount must be paid by patients themselves. The health insurance fund only pays for costs exceeding the deductible.
- The amount of the deductible affects the premium payable. Selecting the maximum deductible of CHF 2,500 results in a discount on the premium of up to 50%.
- Once the annual deductible has been exceeded, a limited contribution is still due on all additional costs incurred. The contribution is currently set at 10% of costs (20% for certain drugs) and is capped at CHF 700 per year for adults and CHF 350 per year for children.
- Alternative insurance models, such as the HMO model, restrict your choice of doctors in return for lower premiums.
- You should request and compare quotes for a range of combinations of deductible and insurance model to find an insurance policy that best fits your needs and buget.
- You can change your choice of options or switch your basic health insurance at the end of each year. In this case you will need to inform your current health insurer by the end of November.
For health insurance, Nationale Suisse recommends its product partner Sanitas.
For employed persons, the cost of accident insurance for occupational and non-occupational accidents will be paid in full or in part by your employer.
Persons who are not employed, such as a partner or child, will not normally be covered by an employee's accident insurance from their employer. As such, persons not in employment are required by law to take out accident cover under their basic health insurance
Motor vehicle insurance
To obtain Swiss licence plates for your vehicle from the Swiss vehicle authorities, you will need to provide confirmation of third-party vehicle liability insurance. This covers damage incurred to third parties, and is available from most Swiss insurance companies.
Insurance against damage to your own vehicle is optional. Read more further down this article in the section titled Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive).
Insurance covering damage to buildings is mandatory for property owners. For a modest sum, buildings insurance covers the risk of fire, explosions and natural disasters.
Tenants can cover their belongings (furniture, etc.) on an optional basis with a household contents policy.
Mandatory insurance fulfils all legal requirements, but for all-round protection it is advisable to have additional cover in place.
Take the time to read up on the subject and its complexities. It also makes sense to consult a professional insurance adviser.
The following is a selection of the most important types of supplementary insurance.
Third-party liability insurance
Personal third-party liability insurance provides cover for damage caused by you to third parties. With most insurance companies, you can take out third-party liability insurance either as an individual or as a partner/family policy. When signing a tenancy agreement you will often be required to provide an insurance certificate confirming that you have third-party liability insurance. This is especially true in the French-speaking region of Switzerland.
Household contents insurance
Household contents policies cover theft, loss or damage to furniture or other furnishings, as well as the loss of personal belongings. The amount of the premiums will depend on the cover provided and the value of the household contents. Household contents insurance is often taken out in combination with third-party liability or building insurance.
Householders may also wish to take out valuables insurance to cover expensive items such as works of art or jewellery.
Help with insurance in Switzerland
Supplementary health insurance
Supplementary health insurance offers the option of private or semi-private hospital care, cover for the cost of alternative treatment methods or treatment abroad. We recommend contacting Sanitas and requesting a personal consultation.
Legal expenses insurance
Legal expenses insurance covers the financial risks associated with legal disputes.
Sometimes legal expenses cover is already provided under health insurance or another insurance policy. In the event of a legal dispute, it is generally advisable to consult a lawyer.
Life insurance policies offer a wide range of options and will have either a savings or an investment component. However, they can also be designed to provide risk insurance or a retirement pension.
Request a personal consultation to find out more about making pension provisions.
Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive)
In addition to mandatory third-party liability motor insurance, semi-comprehensive and fully comprehensive cover is also available. Semi-comprehensive insurance typically covers theft and damage caused by vandalism, fire, hail, storms and collisions with animals. Comprehensive insurance covers all other damage sustained by your own vehicle.
Passenger insurance covers injuries to passengers. It makes particular sense where passengers are not covered by accident insurance, for example visitors from abroad.
If you happen to be an aficionado of vintage cars, you would be well advised to take out a special vintage car policy.
You can read about dream cars in Switzerland and how to insure them properly in this interesting interview with Denis Quinon, a vintage cars insurance specialist and car lover.
Security deposit insurance
Security deposit insurance is an advantageous alternative to the classical security deposit account (rental deposit account) offered by banks. You pay affordable annual premiums instead of a large amount into a tenant's deposit account, thus enjoying greater security and flexibility.
Request a personal consultation to find out more about security deposit insurances.