Home insurance in Switzerland

Home insurance in Switzerland

Home insurance is a type of insurance in Switzerland that protects your home in situations like house fires, extreme weather, accidents, theft and burglaries. Whether you’re renting or owning your own home in Switzerland, you’ll want to think about home insurance - in fact, in some situations, it’s even compulsory. 

House insurance comparison & quotes

There are more than 100 companies that offer home insurance in Switzerland, many of them providing a special service for expats. You can apply to insurance companies directly to receive home insurance quotes. Alternatively, you could use a comparison site to compare offers. 

The following are recommended home insurance providers in Switzerland:

  • Helvetia
  • Zurich Insurance

How to find the best home insurance in Switzerland

With so many different companies providing home insurance in Switzerland, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. It’s important to carefully consider the quotes you receive, to make sure you get the policy that suits your situation best. Some questions to consider might include: 

  • What is included in your policy? What is excluded?
  • Can you save money by bundling your home insurance together with other insurance policies from the same provider? 
  • Is it easy to submit a claim?
  • How easy does the company make it to cancel your policy? 
  • Is customer service and the claims process provided in English?

Home insurance in Switzerland

Broadly speaking, there are three different types of home insurance in Switzerland: 

  • Buildings insurance: Covers the fixed structure of your home, including the walls, floors, ceilings, kitchen and bathroom units.
  • Contents insurance: Covers your moveable belongings like furniture, clothing, jewellery, electronics and other valuable items.
  • Liability insurance: Protects you against claims from third parties, should they suffer from personal injury or property damage or loss while in your home. 

Although there might be some overlap, generally these three types of insurance cover different circumstances that could arise. Therefore, people might take out just one, two or all three types of policy simultaneously, depending on their personal circumstances. Insurers often also offer two or three of these types of insurance in one package as a kind of comprehensive protection.  

Building insurance 

Building insurance (also known as property insurance or homeowners’ insurance) is mandatory in most parts of Switzerland. That means that if you’re buying a house you’ll be obliged to take out at least basic coverage - you won’t be able to get a mortgage without it. If you’re renting, you do not need building insurance, this is covered by your landlord. 

Buildings insurance is mandatory in all Swiss cantons except Geneva, Appenzell Innerrhoden (excluding the district of Oberegg), Ticino and Valais. In these four cantons, homeowners can decide for themselves whether or not they want to take out building insurance. 

In Uri, Schwyz and Obwalden, homeowners are obliged to take out a building insurance policy that - at the very least - covers damage caused by fire and natural hazards. They can freely choose their insurer, so long as they have a policy.

In the remaining 19 cantons, homeowners are required to take out insurance with a single public provider, who has a monopoly in that canton (this is generally known as cantonal buildings insurance). 

In its most basic form, building insurance provides coverage for all the fixed features in your property, including the walls, floors, ceilings and internal fixtures like the kitchen and bathroom units. 

What does building insurance cover?

Basic cantonal building insurance usually covers damage caused to permanent fixtures in the following circumstances: 

  • High water
  • Floods
  • Storms and hail
  • Avalanches
  • Snow pressure
  • Rockslides and rockfalls
  • Landslides
  • Windstorms

However, the exact extent of building insurance policies varies from place to place, so pay attention to the specific wording of your policy. 

What is not covered by building insurance?

Most cantonal building insurance policies do not cover: 

  • Water damage caused by leaking pipes, unsound roofs or walls, or groundwater
  • Damage to additional property structures like driveways, pathways, retaining walls, swimming pools, garden fences, summerhouses and sheds 
  • Window and glass breakages
  • Damage caused by theft

Your insurer is also unlikely to pay out if the damage was caused by negligence - for instance, if a building fault was not repaired - or was caused deliberately. 

Since the scope of cantonal insurance policies can be limited, plenty of people choose to purchase additional (private) building insurance in Switzerland, to get more comprehensive coverage or protect other parts of their property. However, it’s important to check the exact terms and conditions of your building insurance policy to see what kind of coverage it offers before purchasing anything additional, to avoid overlap and unnecessarily wasting money. 

Cost of building insurance in Switzerland

The cost of building insurance is calculated based on numerous factors, including:

  • The property age, size, type, value and condition
  • The materials the property was made from
  • The purpose of the property use (e.g. is it owner-occupied or let out as a holiday rental) 
  • The cost of a rebuild
  • The property’s location
  • The owner’s claims history 

Policies start at somewhere between 300 and 1.000 Swiss francs per year, depending on the size of your home. 

Home contents insurance 

Sometimes also referred to as household contents insurance, home contents insurance in Switzerland covers all the moveable assets in your home, things like furniture, carpets, clothing, electricals, and valuable items like jewellery. Think of it as covering everything you might take with you if you were to move house

Unlike building insurance, contents insurance in Switzerland is optional. You are not obliged to take it out, but it might be worth it, to have peace of mind. 

What is covered by household contents insurance in Switzerland?

Household contents insurance covers damage to your belongings caused by:

  • Fire 
  • Water
  • Natural hazards
  • Burglary
  • Theft

Your policy might also cover your belongings if you are away from home. 

If your belongings are damaged, broken or lost, you can make a claim and your insurer will cover the cost of replacing or repairing the item. 

What is not covered by household insurance?

Basic home contents insurance policies do not cover: 

  • Deliberate damage or damage caused by negligence
  • Damage caused by wear and tear
  • Damage to other people’s property (that is covered by your personal liability insurance)
  • Damage caused by other people to your property, with the exception of theft (that is covered by the other person’s liability insurance) 

However, most insurers offer a range of optional add-ons for you to choose from to tailor your coverage, for instance, to cover accidental damages, theft away from home, losing or misplacing possessions, vandalism, lost keys and legal expenses. 

Contents insurance policies usually have a maximum limit for cover, which you can freely adjust according to the value of your possessions. For instance, if you own priceless artwork, an expensive bicycle or mobile phone, or some precious jewellery, you should ensure that your policy has a big enough limit to cover your valuables. Some insurers offer optional add-ons for extremely valuable items. 

Contents used for business or professional purposes will need a different kind of policy, covered by business insurance. Your vehicle is not covered by contents insurance, either; you need car insurance for that. 

Cost of home content insurance

Costs for home contents insurance vary; your insurer will calculate the cost based on a number of factors, including: 

  • The value of your property and belongings
  • The area where you live
  • Security measures in your home like alarm systems
  • Your claims history
  • The level of coverage you need

You can expect to pay somewhere between 150 and 300 francs per year for your contents insurance. Your policy will also most likely include a deductible, which is the amount you first have to pay from your own pocket when making a claim, before the insurer steps in. Opting for a higher deductible can reduce your monthly premium.

Liability insurance 

Many home insurance policies in Switzerland combine contents insurance with liability insurance. This is because you as a homeowner are responsible for any damage you or your property cause to others, even if it was not intentional. 

As a homeowner, you can take out personal liability insurance (which covers you for incidents both inside and outside the home) or homeowners’ liability insurance, which only covers incidents that occur in your home. 

You can read our guide to liability insurance in Switzerland to find out more (there is generally no difference between the liability insurance policies offered as part of home insurance policies, and those offered as standalone policies), but in brief, liability insurance covers any damage you or your property might cause to another person, their belongings or their property. It also can help you fight unjustified liability claims. 

Liability insurance is not compulsory in Switzerland, but many people still choose to take it out for peace of mind. 

Home insurance add-ons

Your insurance company might also offer additional cover that can be purchased as add-ons to your policy:

Earthquake insurance

As the name suggests, earthquake insurance covers damage caused to your property or possession by an earthquake. In Canton Zurich, homeowners are obliged to take out earthquake insurance; in other cantons it’s optional. 

Insurance for building systems

With more and more houses in Switzerland making use of sustainable technology like solar panels or heat pumps, plenty of insurers are now also offering coverage for these complex building systems, which can be costly to repair. 

Valuable items

If you own particularly valuable items like antiques, jewellery, art, computers, sports equipment or musical instruments, it’s advisable to insure them properly. It’s likely that your basic home insurance package will not cover these items fully, so you might need to purchase additional insurance to cover the full amount. 

Life insurance

If you own your own home with a mortgage, it’s important to think about what might happen to your family in the event of your death. Would they struggle to cover the monthly repayments without your income? To avoid leaving their family in debt, many people choose to take out a life insurance policy that would pay off the mortgage if they died. 

Can you use home insurance from another country in Switzerland?

There are multiple international companies operating in the Swiss insurance market. Many of them are based in the European Union or members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and so able to practise across borders. If you have home insurance with a company licenced to operate in Switzerland, you should be able to bring it with you. 

However, the policy is unlikely to remain exactly the same, as it will need to be recalculated based on your new house and location. If in doubt, check with your insurer. 

How to make a home insurance claim

Your insurance company should tell you exactly how to make a claim - sometimes it can be done online, otherwise, you will have to ring a hotline - indeed, it’s a good idea to check what their process is like before taking out a policy. 

Make sure you check the small print in your contract about claim deadlines - sometimes insurers will only accept claims made within a certain time frame after an incident takes place. In Switzerland, the standard legal claims deadline is two years.

To make a claim, you will need to give your insurance company details about the damage. You will most likely also have to provide proof such as receipts, invoices or photographs. If you have been burgled, it’s important to lodge a report with the police.

Once you have filed a claim, your insurer will investigate, based on the information you provided, and then notify you of their decision. If you are due compensation, it will usually be transferred directly into your bank account.  

How to cancel your Swiss home insurance or change provider

In Switzerland, you are free to cancel your insurance contract at any time, so long as you honour the minimum notice period (which can be anything up to three months). Be sure to inform your insurer that you wish to cancel your contract, even if it is coming to an end because insurers often automatically renew policies unless you specifically say you want to terminate. 

You’ll typically have to give notice of termination in writing, either by sending a letter or an email. If you’re switching providers, sometimes your new provider will help you with the process of cancelling your old contract, so all you need to do is take out a new policy. 

Read also