Insurance in Switzerland: all you need to know

Guide byHelvetia

In Switzerland, health insurance is required by law  as well as accident insurance for domestic staff. Third-party liability and household contents insurance are important when renting a property. Other typical insurance covers are: travel, legal protection, car and income protection. Bicycle & pet insurance can be included in the household policy.

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The following are mandatory types of insurance in Switzerland:

  • Basic health insurance

  • Accident insurance

  • Motor vehicle insurance for vehicle owners

  • Buildings liability insurance for homeowners

  • Within 3 months of your arrival in Switzerland, you will be asked to provide proof that you have health insurance coverage.

Compulsory forms of insurance

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.

Accident insurance

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 for vehicle owners

To obtain Swiss license 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.

Buildings liability insurance for homeowners

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.

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Optional forms of insurance in Switzerland

There are further forms of insurance coverage, which can be broadly divided into essential and recommended. The essential coverage is not legally required, however almost every adult in Switzerland holds these policies.

Essential insurances

Third-party liability insurance

Third-party liability insurance is in fact optional, but it is one of the standard forms of insurance normally held by every adult citizen.

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.

A third-party liability insurance policy from your home country will not be accepted. You must have a policy with a Swiss-based insurance company.

At the latest one week before the planned date of your accommodation handover, you need to have proof that you have third party liability insurance. This letter of proof can be obtained as soon as you have a policy with a Swiss insurance company.

You can defer the start date of your policy to begin on the day of your arrival or at your property handover.

Households contents policy

Tenants can cover their belongings (furniture, etc.) with this type of policy.

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.

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Recommended insurances

Legal expenses insurance 

Legal expenses insurance covers the financial risks associated with legal disputes.

Sometimes this 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

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.

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.

Rental security deposit insurance

Rental 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.

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