Find out your options for home insurance in Switzerland with this guide that explains what’s needed, what’s available, and who provides it.
Moving to a Swiss property with a truckload of valuable belongings? Then you’d be wise to invest in a good home insurance policy. Home insurance in Switzerland is compulsory when it comes to insuring the building, however contents insurance is optional in most cantons. Taking out the right coverage depends on several factors such as whether you buy or rent.
This guide covers the following topics:
- Introduction to home insurance in Switzerland
- Home insurance companies in Switzerland
- Home contents insurance in Switzerland
- Building insurance in Switzerland
- Liability insurance in Switzerland
- Combined home insurance in Switzerland
- How to choose home insurance in Switzerland
- Applying for home insurance in Switzerland
- How to make a contents insurance claim in Switzerland
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Making a complaint against a home insurance company in Switzerland
- Holiday home insurance in Switzerland
- Useful resources
Introduction to home insurance in Switzerland
There are generally three different types of home insurance in Switzerland. These are:
- Building insurance, which protects the fixed premises including walls, floors, ceilings, kitchen and bathroom units
- Contents insurance, which protects your movable belongings including furniture, clothing, jewelry and electronic goods
- Liability insurance, which protects against claims from third parties due to personal injury or property damage/loss while in your home
You can also typically bundle these products together under general household insurance. Combinations vary between companies but some offer a three-in-one package which is a great way of saving money and getting comprehensive coverage.
Building insurance is compulsory in Switzerland, whereas both contents and liability coverage are optional. This means that homeowners need to buy building insurance as a minimum. In fact, most Swiss mortgage providers will make this a condition of lending. If you are renting in Switzerland, you can choose to take out contents and/or personal liability coverage if you wish.
According to official statistics, property insurance is the fourth biggest insurance type in Switzerland after life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance. Premium sales of property insurance were worth over CHF 4.1 million in 2019.
As with all forms of insurance in Switzerland, home insurance is regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA). All insurance companies need a license to operate and they have to follow procedures regarding the selling of products and treatment of customers.
Can you use home insurance from another country in Switzerland?
Switzerland has a large insurance market that includes many international insurers. This includes many companies based in EU/EFTA countries who can move across borders with fewer restrictions. If you have a home insurance policy with a company licensed to operate in Switzerland, you should be able to transfer it across without too much problem.
However, you won’t be able to transfer a building insurance policy under the same terms. Your insurer will want to re-evaluate the premium based on the new property’s size, condition, value, location, and other risk factors. They may also apply additional administration charges.
Contents and liability insurance policies will depend on what type of plan you’ve taken out. Unless you’ve taken out an extended policy that includes overseas coverage, your insurance company will again want to recalculate your premium. In any event, you should inform your insurer of any change of address as soon as you can.
Home insurance companies in Switzerland
There are currently 118 companies in Switzerland providing coverage for your home, including contents, building, and other products. The main ones include:
Home contents insurance in Switzerland
Home contents insurance is sometimes referred to as household contents insurance in Switzerland. Most Swiss companies dealing in home insurance will sell standalone contents insurance and may also offer policies combined with buildings and liability insurance.
You can take out contents insurance in Switzerland whether you buy or rent. It’s not a compulsory form of insurance. Basic contents insurance covers your movable assets against fire damage, water damage, and burglary. Some policies will also cover glass items and vandalism.
If you want full protection, you can take out a more expensive comprehensive policy. This usually covers many things not included in basic plans, such as:
- Damage cause by negligence
- Goods kept in gardens or taken off the premises
- High value items
- Damage caused by terrorist attacks
However, comprehensive insurance won’t cover deliberate damage. It also won’t cover vehicles, which need a separate car insurance policy.
Many insurance companies also sell an intermediate-level package somewhere between basic and all-inclusive. You can also usually tailor your chosen policy by purchasing individual add-ons.
Some insurance companies sell separate forms of contents insurance such as cyber insurance, mobile phone insurance, bicycle insurance and pet insurance. If you run a business in Switzerland, you’ll need to buy commercial contents insurance through one of the main insurers or a commercial specialist such as Chubb.
Home contents insurance costs in Switzerland
Insurers calculate costs according to various factors including the value and amount of contents you wish to insure, plus risk factors associated with yourself, your home, and the local area.
Typical prices in Switzerland range from CHF 150 to CHF 300 per year. Most firms charge a deductible, or retention, on the first claim. This is the amount you will have to pay yourself, which can range between CHF 200 and CHF 500.
You can find cost calculators on most insurance company websites, such as this one with Elvia.
Building/homeowners insurance in Switzerland
Unlike contents insurance, building insurance in Switzerland is mandatory. This applies to both owner-occupiers and landlords. You will need at least basic coverage if you own a property. If you buy an apartment in a communal block, you will need to check what level of insurance you need. Some companies sell buildings insurance specifically for apartments or condominiums.
As with contents insurance, you can usually choose between different levels of coverage. Basic coverage includes walls, floors, ceilings, and internal fixtures such as kitchen and bathroom units against fire, water, and storm damage.
All-inclusive plans include sheds and garden structures, window glass breakages, vandalism, earthquakes, and damage due to negligence. They also have higher payout costs (usually covering the cost of a total rebuild in the event of a disaster) plus usually include extras such as emergency alternative accommodation costs, legal costs, and assistance if you lock yourself out of your home. However, they won’t cover wilful damage to property.
Costs of building insurance in Switzerland
Building insurance costs are based on various property factors such as age, size/type, value, construction materials used, and purpose of property use (owner-occupier, holiday lets, commercial use, etc.). In addition to this are risk factors relating to the policyholder and property location.
You can expect to pay anywhere between CHF 300 and CHF 1,000 a year for building insurance in Switzerland. Some premiums may cost even more. Check out your own probable costs using a calculator such as this one at Zurich.
Liability insurance in Switzerland
You can take out personal liability insurance in Switzerland or include it within your house insurance policy. The advantage of taking out a separate liability policy is that you can insure yourself for incidents that occur outside the home. For example, an injury caused by a pet, your bicycle or a piece of equipment. You can also take out a policy covering multiple people.
With most companies, you can tailor your level of coverage to include/exclude various different components. Costs depend on your personal circumstances including your age, where you live, whether you own or rent, what you choose to cover, where coverage extends to, and the total insured sum you take out.
You can take out coverage for a maximum sum of CHF 5 million for around CHF 70 a year while insuring to the sum of CHF 20 million can set you back up to CHF 250 a year. As with many other forms of Swiss insurance, you will have to pay a deductible. This is usually between CHF 200 and CHF 500 on the first claim.
You can assess your liability insurance costs on websites such as AXA.
Combined household insurance in Switzerland
You can purchase various forms of combined home insurance in Switzerland. This is usually called household insurance. The market is slightly confusing in that different companies offer different packages. For example, one company’s household insurance offer might be building plus contents insurance whereas with another it might be contents plus liability. Some companies sell building, contents and liability combined in a three-in-one package which is great for homeowners.
The advantage of combining the different forms of home insurance in Switzerland is that it is usually cheaper than taking out separate policies. However, make sure you shop around and don’t buy insurance that you don’t need just because it might be a good deal.
How to choose home insurance in Switzerland
When you shop for home insurance in Switzerland, you should consider all the different elements of a policy as well as the basic annual premium. These include:
- What options you have for tailoring policies towards your specific needs, so that you don’t end up paying for coverage you don’t need or missing any vital areas out.
- Whether you’re eligible for any discounts, for example no-claims bonuses.
- What damage is covered and how much the company will pay out.
- What you will have to pay as a deductible.
- Company feedback or reputation. Check customer reviews and online ratings.
- How simple is the claims process? Can you claim online and how soon with you receive payment?
- How the company performs in terms of ethics and sustainability. You can check company ratings and performance on sites such as CSR Hub.
Applying for home insurance in Switzerland
The application process with most Swiss insurers is fairly quick and easy. You can usually complete everything online, by filling in the premium calculator and selecting the level of coverage you want. The company will give you a quote, and you can sign up if happy and receive the policy and related documents by email. Most companies also provide phone and face-to-face services if you prefer, although the process can take a little longer.
You will typically need to provide your address, email or phone contact details plus bank details. Some companies may ask for a professional valuation if you are taking out a policy that includes building insurance. Standard policies last for a minimum of 12 months and may automatically renew, although some insurers may offer early exit clauses or allow you to leave with a minimum notice period.
How to make a home contents insurance claim in Switzerland
The exact process for making an insurance claim in Switzerland will depend on your insurer. Some companies allow you to submit a claim online, while with others you will have to use a phone line. Typically you will have to provide:
- Personal details linked to your policy, e.g. name and address
- Insurance policy number
- Details of insurance claim, such has what property your claim is regarding, what has happened and when it happened
In the event of damage, you may also be asked for photo evidence. The company should provide you with a reference number and may assign a claims manager. Straightforward claims normally take no longer than a couple of weeks. If there are any queries and you have to provide additional information, it may take longer. Your insurer should inform you of the exact claims process along with any deadlines for filing a claim. The legal claims deadline in Switzerland is usually two years.
Canceling an insurance contract or changing provider
You are free to cancel an insurance contract in Switzerland at any time, although you may have to observe a notice period to avoid being charged. This can be anything up to three months.
You can end a contract or change insurers if:
- The contract expires and you inform them within the notice period. Note that Swiss insurance contracts often automatically renew if you don’t give warning that you want to terminate.
- Your insurer increases the premium.
- You make a claim and you are unhappy with the service you get.
Typically you will have to notify the insurer in writing if you want to cancel the contract, either by email or letter. If you want to change provider, some companies offer help with this as an incentive to sign up. You can find a sample termination letter here.
Making a complaint about a home insurance company in Switzerland
To make a complaint about a Swiss car insurance company, follow these steps:
- Firstly, try to resolve the issue through the complaints department of the company itself. Your insurer should provide you with details of their complaints procedure when you take out a policy.
- If this proves unsuccessful, you can contact one of the Swiss ombudsman services. You can find contact details for financial services and insurance ombudsmen on Swiss Authorities Online.
The Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau (FCAB) has additional information on consumer rights in Switzerland.
Holiday home insurance in Switzerland
Switzerland has a strong holiday market and attracts visitors all year round with its ski resorts, picturesque mountains, and beautiful lakes. If you own a holiday home in Switzerland, you’ll need to take out building insurance and also extra contents insurance to cover everything.
Most Swiss insurance companies don’t provide specific insurance to cover the risks associated with holiday homes, so you’ll have to take out individual policies or a combination of policies to cover the risks, such as building insurance, contents insurance, public liability, and rental income.
You may be able to find holiday home insurance through a broker in your home country that offers expat-related insurance, such as IntaSure in the UK.