An introduction to compulsory and optional forms of insurance in Switzerland, from health insurance to car insurance and home insurance in Switzerland.
Don’t wait for the worst to happen – get your Swiss insurance sorted now. Moving to a new country means tackling a different set of red tape. None is more confusing than insurance. The following article provides an introduction to insurance in Switzerland, including those which are legally required.
Throughout this document, translations are listed in the following format: English (German/French/Italian).
What types of insurance are legally required in Switzerland?
- Basic health and accident insurance.
- Cars and other vehicles must be insured to operate legally.
- Building insurance (property owners only).
- Fire insurance (self-owned and rented properties alike, usually part of building insurance).
- Social security or unemployment insurance (AI/AVS/APG) is also compulsory.
Health insurance in Switzerland
Health insurance is legally required in Switzerland and must be arranged within three months of your arrival. Insurance is required for adults and children, those working and those unemployed, although insurance costs are generally cheaper for under 25s. Employers do not usually provide health insurance as a benefit.
Health insurance providers popular with expats in Switzerland include:
There are exceptions for diplomatic staff. However, in certain circumstances, it is even required if you are not actually in Switzerland – find out more on the Swiss government’s site (English, French, German, Italian).
You can find the Swiss government’s health insurance quote finder online (French, German, Italian). Expect to pay at least the first CHF 300 of your bills each year (this is called the ‘excess’). Choosing a higher excess (Franchisen/franchise/franchigie) can lower your premiums. Health insurance starts from around CHF 70 per month for a single adult.
Read more about the Swiss healthcare system.
Dental insurance in Switzerland
Dental work required by a serious disease is covered by standard health insurance. All other work, including routine check ups with a dentist (Zahnärzte/dentiste/dentista) and braces, is not. Dental insurance is not legally required in Switzerland. It is usually sold as an add-on to health insurance schemes or completely separately.
Swiss home insurance
Building and fire insurance are mandatory in Switzerland. Basic building insurance typically covers fire, flood and other major or natural disasters. It is the responsibility of the building owner. More extensive insurance may be taken out, for example to insure against damage by tenants.
If the property is rented, the tenant should only need to take out contents insurance to cover their own property. You can read more about renting in Switzerland.
Phones, fridges and fur coats: insuring your stuff
Contents insurance is not legally required but it is recommended. Read the conditions carefully and choose an insurer who covers accidental damage by yourself as well as taking portable goods (such as a mobile phone) outside the home. Large insurers may offer policies and documentation in English.
Car insurance in Switzerland
Basic car insurance (third party cover) is mandatory in Switzerland. Basic insurance will cover only damage to others, while more complete (comprehensive or semi-comprehensive) insurance will cover damage to the car insured as well.
Typically, insurance covers occasional use of the vehicle by others (eg. a relative driving the car for a few days on a visit) and occasional use of another vehicle by the insured driver (eg. driving a relative’s car for a few days when you visit them). Check your contract for details.
Boats, bikes and other vehicle insurance
Any motor vehicle must have insurance to operate legally. This includes electric and electric-assist bicycles with speeds of over 25km/h. Boats of all kinds must also have insurance.
As of 2012, mandatory bicycle insurance has been phased out. This was previously indicated by a sticker (Velovignette/vignette/targhetta). You should ensure that your personal liability cover (through your health and accident insurance) covers cycling before taking to the roads.
Life insurance, unemployment and injury insurance
Basic unemployment cover is provided by a mandatory state program (called AI/AVS/APG). Employees are taxed at 12.5 percent to pay for it (6.25 percent paid by both the employer and employee). Unemployment cover in Switzerland is generous so additional cover is not usually necessary unless you are self-employed. State benefits are initially 80 percent of final salary (capped at CHF 328 per day). Those self-employed or unemployed pay a fixed sum of at least CHF 504 per year towards AI/AVS/APG but are only eligible for pension and disability benefits, not unemployment benefits.
Employers must provide insurance for accidents at work (the program is called LAA). Many provide general accident insurance, in which case your health insurance may give you a rebate on presentation of a certificate to this effect.
Life insurance is often offered as a benefit by employers or pension funds (second and third pillar only) so be sure to ask before arranging additional cover.
Insurance can be obtained to cover pets in case of accident or illness, however, this is not common. You can read about bringing a pet to Switzerland.
Travel insurance is not a standard benefit of health insurance programs. You should arrange specialist travel insurance to cover illness, accident, sporting injuries and travel problems.
Switzerland is part of the European health insurance equivalence programme. You will need an Europan Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card, which you can request from your insurer. This means that if you are on a temporary trip to another member country, you can receive urgent treatment in that country as though you were a local. For example, in the UK you can access NHS services without charge but in France you may have to pay up front and be reimbursed. The EHIC card does not work outside Europe and is not a replacement for travel insurance.