An introduction to compulsory and optional forms of insurance in Switzerland, from health insurance to car insurance and home and buildings insurance.
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 gives an introduction to insurance in Switzerland, including those which are legally required.
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This guide includes sections on:
- Overview of insurance in Switzerland
- Which types of Swiss insurance are legally required
- Optional forms of insurance in Switzerland
- Commercial insurance in Switzerland
- Expat insurance in Switzerland
- Swiss insurance comparison tools
- Useful resources
Throughout this document, translations are listed in the following format: English (German/French/Italian).
Overview of insurance in Switzerland
Swiss residents spend a higher amount on insurance in general than the EU average and there are a number of private Swiss insurance companies to choose from, offering insurance on everything from healthcare to pets. Only a few forms of insurance are mandatory in Switzerland but many residents also take out various optional insurances to suit their needs. You are free to choose your own Swiss insurance provider but you should make sure that they have a license from the Swiss Financial Market Authority (FINMA) which regulates insurance companies in Switzerland.
Which types of Swiss insurance are legally required?
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.
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.
International health insurance providers popular with expats in Switzerland include:
Accident insurance in Switzerland
Insurance for both occupational and non-occupational accidents is usually covered by your Swiss employer. Those not employed or not covered through their work need to take out accident cover as part of their Swiss health insurance.
Motor vehicle insurance in Switzerland
Basic motor vehicle insurance (third party cover) is mandatory for all drivers 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. Insurance costs can vary greatly, depending on the policy, the vehicle and the driver’s background.
Typically, insurance covers occasional use of the vehicle by others (e.g. a relative driving the car for a few days on a visit) and occasional use of another vehicle by the insured driver (e.g. driving a relative’s car for a few days when you visit them). Check your contract for details.
Buildings and fire insurance are mandatory for property owners in Switzerland. Basic building insurance typically covers fire, flood and other major or natural disasters. 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.
Unemployment insurance in Switzerland
Basic unemployment cover is provided by a mandatory state program (called AI/AVS/APG). Employees pay around 2% of their salary for it (split 50/50 between the employer and employee). Unemployment cover in Switzerland is quite generous so additional cover is not usually necessary unless you are self-employed. State benefits are usually between 70-80% of average salary (capped at CHF 12,350 per month). 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.
Optional forms of insurance in Switzerland
Dental insurance in Switzerland
Dental work required due to a serious disease is covered by standard health insurance in Switzerland. 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.
Contents insurance in Switzerland
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. Costs will vary depending on how much you want covering and value of contents covered.
Third-party liability insurance in Switzerland
This insurance is not compulsory in Switzerland but it is strongly recommended and there are certain situations where you may be required to show proof of liability insurance, e.g. with some tenancy agreements. This insurance covers you against damage and injury caused to third parties and is available through most Swiss companies as either an individual or a family policy.
Legal expenses insurance in Switzerland
This insurance covers financial costs associated with legal disputes, such as court costs and lawyer bills. It doesn’t cover loss of earnings caused by legal proceedings. This will need to be dealt with through unemployment insurance or another form of financial insurance or compensation package.
Life insurance in Switzerland
Life insurance is often offered as a benefit by Swiss employers or pension funds (second and third pillar only). If your policy doesn’t cover life insurance, you can arrange additional separate cover so that family and loved ones are provided for in the event of your death.
Pet insurance in Switzerland
Insurance can be obtained to cover pets in case of accident or illness, however, this is not common. Read our Guide to bringing a pet to Switzerland for more information.
Travel insurance in 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 program. You will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which you can request from your insurer. This means that EU nationals on a temporary trip to another member country can receive urgent treatment in that country as though they are a local. For example, in the UK you can access NHS (National Health Service) 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.
Commercial insurance in Switzerland
Businesses in Switzerland require some of the same insurances as individuals, such as building insurance and motor vehicle insurance. Here are a few of the other needed or common forms of business insurance:
Public liability insurance
Compulsory for all Swiss businesses, this is also known as general business liability insurance and operates in a similar way to third-party liability insurance for individuals and protects against claims from third parties arising from accidents or negligence that cause injury, damage or financial loss.
Also known as workers’ compensation insurance or employers’ liability insurance, this is mandatory for all businesses in Switzerland with employees to cover accidents, illness, maternity leave, unemployment, serious injury and pension payments. This is often provided through separate channels (accident insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.) but some insurance companies offer packages. Self-employed workers are covered for pensions and disability through social security payments, but unemployment insurance is not compulsory for them so will need to arrange voluntary coverage.
Protects businesses against cyber risks such as loss of data, cyber attacks, business interruptions due to IT failure, and damage claims from customers and partners. This is an optional form of insurance but is recommended for businesses that deal with a lot of electronic data.
Commercial liability insurance
Also known as professional liability insurance, this is optional and insures against claims made by third parties due to losses suffered because of a mistake made by your business.
Expat insurance in Switzerland
Expats living in Switzerland can benefit from insurance packages such as health insurance and life insurance that are tailored towards their needs. Insurance companies can provide information and guidance to help you find the right solutions to fit your personal situation.
Swiss insurance comparison tools
You can use comparis.ch (English, French, German, Italian) to search for quotes on all forms of insurance.
Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) – Swiss regulatory body for financial and insurance services.