Car insurance in Switzerland is mandatory for drivers. This guide takes you through what’s available and how to take out the right policy.
If you’re driving in Switzerland, you will need to be covered by auto insurance. Coverage is mandatory to at least a third-party level, although you can choose to take out extra insurance if you wish.
This guide to car insurance in Switzerland covers:
- Car insurance in Switzerland
- Types of car insurance in Switzerland
- Additional forms of car insurance in Switzerland
- Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Switzerland
- Car insurance companies in Switzerland
- How to choose car insurance in Switzerland
- Applying for car insurance in Switzerland
- How to make a car insurance claim in Switzerland
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Switzerland
- Roadside assistance in Switzerland
- Useful resources
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Car insurance in Switzerland
The Swiss car insurance market is complex, with many different types of auto insurance available. However, only third party liability insurance is compulsory.
The Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA) regulates providers of car insurance in Switzerland. According to FINMA statistics, car insurance is the fourth most common form of non-life insurance in Switzerland after health insurance, building insurance, and accident insurance. Car insurance premiums totaled CHF 5.97 billion in 2019, accounting for 20.9% of the non-life insurance market in Switzerland.
When you take out car insurance in Switzerland, it is generally the vehicle that is covered rather than the driver. Most policies cover additional drivers, meaning that anyone with a valid driving license can drive your car. If you want to drive someone else’s car, you’ll need additional coverage or a fully comprehensive policy. However, you can use most Swiss car insurance policies to cover additional vehicles of your own if you have transferable license plates.
Can you use car insurance from another country in Switzerland?
You can use car insurance from other EU/EFTA countries in Switzerland. Likewise, you can use Swiss car insurance when driving in countries across the EU/EFTA.
If you come to Switzerland from outside the EU/EFTA, you will usually need to take out a Swiss policy unless you have an extended policy that specifies that you can drive in overseas countries including Switzerland.
Types of car insurance in Switzerland
The three main types of car insurance in Switzerland are as follows:
Third-party liability insurance
This is the minimum legal car insurance in Switzerland. In fact, you cannot even register your car and get your license plate in most cantons without at least liability insurance. Liability insurance covers damage to all third parties and their property in incidents where you or another insured driver of your car is at fault. However, it doesn’t cover any costs relating to you or your car.
Liability insurance typically covers up to CHF 1 million of damages in Switzerland. Premiums vary depending on factors such as car value, driver profile, and Swiss region. Average prices are around CHF 300–400 per year.
This insurance is essentially liability insurance plus coverage for your own vehicle due to incidents that are not your fault. Such incidents include natural disasters, fire, theft, vandalism and animal collision. Policies tend to vary between insurers so it’s important to check what’s covered and what’s not. Common exclusions are glass damage, damage when in a parking area, and storm damage. You can usually include anything beyond the basic package for a higher premium.
Again, costs can vary greatly but you can generally expect to pay in the region of CHF 500–1,000 a year. Experts recommend considering this form of insurance for cars between 4–7 years old.
Fully comprehensive or full Casco
Fully comprehensive, or full Casco, insurance covers pretty much all costs (as the name suggests). In other words, everything relating to you, your own car, and all third parties in incidents where you or another insured driver is at fault.
Full Casco is optional, however, it may be compulsory if you lease rather than buy a car in Switzerland. You should consider this type of car insurance if you have a new (i.e., less than four years old) or valuable car.
Although this insurance is fully comprehensive, it won’t cover absolutely everything and again policies vary across insurers. Common exclusions are breakdown coverage, no-claims bonus protection, and damage or theft due to negligence. You can purchase anything not included as an add-on if you wish.
Full Casco is the most expensive type of car insurance in Switzerland. Expect to pay somewhere between CHF 1,000–2,000.
Additional forms of car insurance in Switzerland
Whichever type of car insurance in Switzerland you choose, you can bolster it with individual coverage that might not be included. Common additional insurance types are:
Passenger accident insurance – while standard liability insurance covers damage costs to third parties, medical costs are often excluded. However, most Swiss residents will have their own personal accident insurance so this is usually only necessary if you have foreign visitors traveling in your car often.
Parking damage – covers damage caused by unknown parties while your car is parked. Typically only available as an add-on with full Casco policies.
Legal protection – covers legal expenses in the event of an incident that goes to court.
Breakdown assistance – sometimes included in full Casco policies, this provides for costs such as repair and replacement transport in the event of a breakdown. Worth taking out if you don’t have a roadside assistance policy elsewhere.
Gross negligence – covers costs if you cause an accident through negligence, such as if you go through a red light or are above the speed limit. However, serious offenses such as drink driving and excessive speeding are usually not included.
Bonus protection – protects your no-claims bonus if you have to make a claim. However, it is usually limited to one claim per year.
Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Switzerland
Switzerland has a no-claims bonus insurance system, similar to many other countries. What this means is that your premiums will drop for each year that you don’t make a claim. Each insurance company has its own no-claims bonus scheme. Typically, your car insurance will decrease by between 5–10% for each no-claim year. There will be a cut-off point after which it will go no lower. With most insurers, this will be around a 30–40% discount but some may offer more generous deals.
Some insurance companies allow you to transfer no-claims periods across from previous policies; however, they are not obliged to do so. Check first before signing up.
Although you can get discounts for not making a claim, your premiums can also increase if you make regular claims. If you have a poor driving record, you can end up paying well over 100% of the standard premium costs.
You can expect to pay a higher premium if you:
- Cause an accident through careless or negligent driving
- Have points on your license for violations such as speeding or drunk driving
- Are a young or inexperienced driver
Car insurance companies in Switzerland
There are over 100 insurance companies offering car insurance in Switzerland. This is why it is a good idea to shop around. Popular insurance companies include:
There are also expat-friendly brokerage services such as the UK company Sterling which helps British expats find insurance for cars they import to Switzerland when they move.
You can compare Swiss car insurance policies on websites such as Comparis and moneyland.ch.
How to choose car insurance in Switzerland
When looking at car insurance deals in Switzerland, be mindful to take into account other factors rather than just opting for the cheapest deal. Other things to look out for include:
Excess/deductible – this is the amount you need to pay towards any insurance claim. In Switzerland, this can vary between insurers but is typically around CHF 1,000 for drivers under 25 and CHF 500 for drivers 25 and over with less than two years of driving experience. Other drivers usually pay no deductible. However, all drivers can usually choose to increase the deductible in return for lower premiums.
No-claims bonus – what discounts can you get and are you able to transfer no-claims periods from another insurer?
Company reputation – what are the ratings and customer reviews like? Check online review sites.
Claims process – how quick and easy is the claims process? Can you do it online?
Exclusions – check through the policies carefully to see what is and isn’t covered, who is covered (e.g., other drivers), and where you are covered (e.g., driving abroad or in other people’s cars). If something you need is missing, can it be added and how much will it cost?
Special offers and discounts – some companies may offer price discounts, for example to union members, on electric vehicles, or for paying your annual premium upfront. Or you may be able to access discounts elsewhere if insurers have partnered with other businesses.
Unused license plates policy – in Switzerland, you don’t have to insure your car if you’re not using it as long as you return the license plates. Some insurers allow you to pause your payments for periods that your car is not in use.
Ethical performance – how well does the company perform in areas such as environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and worker rights? You can compare insurers using ratings compiled by assessors such as Ethical Consumer.
Applying for car insurance in Switzerland
Most insurance firms now allow you to take out a policy online, which makes things quicker and easier. The best way to sort out your car insurance in Switzerland is to:
- Decide what type of coverage you want, e.g., liability or full Casco. Make sure you include any add-ons if they might not be included as standard.
- Compare quotes from car insurance companies. You can do this via individual company websites or use a comparison tool such as moneyland.ch or Comparis.
- Take out your policy online.
You will typically need to provide the following:
- Driving license details
- Car registration details (available from your cantonal road office if you don’t have them)
- Personal details (address, age, driver profile)
- Other relevant information (e.g., if you plan to use the car for business purposes)
Once you have filled in the insurance form and paid your first installment, your car is covered. You should receive your insurance certificate and policy details. You may also receive a European accident report form and a green card to show proof of insurance when driving in non-EU/EFTA countries that are part of the green card system.
How to make a car insurance claim in Switzerland
If you need to make a car insurance claim in Switzerland, you should:
- Take photos of any damage and record any witness statements if necessary.
- Complete your European accident report form in the event of an accident. Otherwise, make sure you get the relevant details from any other drivers involved in an incident (especially name and car registration details).
- Contact the emergency services in the event of a serious accident.
- File your insurance claim with your provider. Most companies allow you to do this by phone, email, or using an online form. Your insurer should give you details of their claims process and options. You should do this as soon as possible. The legal deadline for filing an insurance claim in Switzerland is usually two years.
- Forward invoices and payment receipts to your insurer as necessary.
Once you have made your claim, a representative from your insurer (claims officer or claims manager) should be in touch with you to explain what is likely to happen, whether you need to provide additional information, when a decision on your claim will be made and when you are likely to receive compensation.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
You can cancel a contract with a Swiss insurer at any time, although notice periods range from 24 hours to three months depending on the insurer. If you cancel early on a fixed-term contract, your insurer may charge you a fee.
You should cancel car insurance in Switzerland in writing to the address provided to you by the insurance company. Most Swiss companies operate an automatic renewal process, meaning that you will be tied in for another period if you don’t cancel in advance.
You can change insurance providers without incurring a penalty if:
- The contract expires.
- You change your vehicle.
- Your premiums change. Insurers should give at least 25 days notice on any price changes.
- Ownership of the car changes. The new owner has 14 days to cancel any outstanding policy covering the vehicle.
- You are unhappy with the way a claim is dealt with. Both parties have 14 days to cancel the contract after each claim is made.
Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Switzerland
If you want to complain about a Swiss car insurance company, you should follow these steps:
- Firstly, try to resolve the issue with the company itself. Each company should have a complaints department and a complaints procedure that should be available on its website or in an information pack sent out when you sign up.
- If this doesn’t resolve the situation, you can contact one of the Swiss ombudsman services. You can find contact details for financial services and insurance ombudsmen through the Ombudsman of Private Insurance and of Suva.
The Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau (FCAB) has additional information on consumer rights in Switzerland.
Roadside assistance in Switzerland
You can purchase breakdown insurance from most Swiss insurers. Alternatively, the Swiss Touring Club (TCS) (in German) is one of the most popular membership breakdown and recovery services. You can call 800 140 140 in an emergency. Membership is around CHF 80–90 a year.
Another service that provides coverage in Switzerland and across Europe is the Automobile Club of Switzerland (ACS – in German). You can purchase from a number of different membership deals starting at CHF 80.
You may also need to call the police (117), ambulance service (144), or other emergency services if your situation is serious.
- Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) – Swiss regulatory body for financial and insurance services.
- Comparis – car insurance comparison tool in Switzerland
- Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau (FCAB) – information on Swiss consumer rights