Some forms of insurance are compulsory, therefore legally required for everyone living in Switzerland. All insurance companies are obligated to insure Swiss residents, and all offer exactly the same basic benefits.
Mandatory types of insurance in Switzerland
Here are the ones you need to get as a newcomer to Switzerland:
Basic health insurance
Accident insurance (if you are not employed)
Motor vehicle insurance for vehicle owners
You have some time to decide
For health insurance, you have 3 months to decide and sign the policy. Within 3 months of your arrival in Switzerland, you will be asked by authorities to provide proof that you have health insurance coverage.
For accident insurance and motor vehicle insurance there are certain legal obligations that depend heavily on your (or your partner's) personal situation. Therefore, speak to an insurance adviser to get clarity on how to proceed.
Here's what you need to know about the mandatory types of insurance
Basic health insurance
Important! Even foreigners staying in Switzerland for less than three months are required to get basic health insurance unless they have equivalent coverage under a foreign insurance scheme.
If you are employed in Switzerland, 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, are not 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.
There are optional forms of insurance coverage, broadly divided into essential (=it would be beneficial for you to get these) and recommended (=you can live without them, but there are some benefits if you get these).
The essential coverage is not legally required, but almost every adult in Switzerland takes out these policies. In other words, in Switzerland it is strongly recommended that you get these insurances:
Third-party liability insurance
What is it?
Personal third-party liability insurance provides cover for damage caused by you to third parties.
Why should you get it?
Because you don't want any headaches when moving out of your apartment, for example if you are required to pay for repairs or damage to the property (to use just one example).
When signing a tenancy agreement there is a good chance that you will 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, but less usual in rural regions.
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.
Households contents policy
What is it?
Household contents policies cover theft, loss or damage to furniture or other furnishings, as well as the loss of personal belongings.
Why should you get it?
Switzerland is fairly safe, but that doesn't mean it is completely burglar-free. Break-ins can happen and you can also (more often than not) lose stuff - which is why this insurance is extremely useful.
Good to know: If you lost something, first check your local Lost-and-found office (Fundbüro or Objets trouvés). You might get lucky!
These are optional insurances you can live without in Switzerland, but there are several benefits if you get them.
Legal expenses insurance
What is it: It covers the financial risks associated with legal disputes. Sometimes this is already provided under health insurance or another insurance policy.
Why should you get it: If you get involved in a legal dispute of any kind, costs can spiral. This coverage means you can confidently enter into legal disputes without worrying about the costs.
What is it: Life insurance policies offer a wide range of options and will have either a savings or an investment component. They can also be designed to provide risk insurance or a retirement pension.
Why should you get it: It's an essential part of long-term planning, and especially relevant for those of us with partners and/or children.
Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive)
What is it: 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.
Why should you get it: It makes particular sense where passengers are not covered by accident insurance, for example visitors from abroad.
Rental security deposit insurance
What is it: Rental security deposit insurance is an advantageous alternative to the classical security deposit account (rental deposit account) offered by banks.
Why should you get it: You pay affordable annual premiums instead of a large amount into a tenant's deposit account, thus enjoying greater security and flexibility. Most importantly, you don't have to put down two or three months of rent in a single lump-sum, meaning you can do other things with that money.
Too much information?
If you're feeling slightly overwhelmed by all these details, you're not alone. There's a lot to take in and, as a newcomer to Switzerland, you will have several questions about your own particular situation.
Make sure you start life in Switzerland right, with the proper support
Our insurance partner, Helvetia is ready to answer any and all questions you might have regarding your insurance needs. Schedule a free, non-binding consultation with a Helvetia English - speaking adviser who specialises on the insurance needs of international professionals in Switzerland.Get free consultation