Legal insurance in Switzerland

Legal insurance in Switzerland

Whether it’s problems with your landlord, an argument with a business partner, a complaint about an online purchase, or an issue at work, legal disputes can crop up out of nowhere. Legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung, protection juridique, protezione giuridica) is a type of insurance in Switzerland that covers legal costs, protecting the policyholder against the financial impact of lawsuits and empowering them to take legal action without fearing negative financial consequences. 

Best legal insurance in Switzerland

The following companies all offer legal insurance in Switzerland that is tailored to expats, for instance by offering advice and claims processes in English:

  • Generali
  • Groupe Mutuel

What is legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung)?

In a nutshell, legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung - also known as legal protection insurance and legal expenses insurance) covers you for costs that might arise out of a legal dispute, for instance:

  • If you lose your job but your employer withholds any salary that you are entitled to.
  • If you move out of an apartment but the landlord doesn’t give back your deposit, without providing an adequate reason why.
  • If you buy something that is faulty but the seller refuses to give you a refund.
  • If you receive a vehicle tax bill that you think is too high.
  • If you terminate your contract with your child’s daycare but the provider won’t refund the fees you’ve already paid.
  • If you have a disagreement with your neighbour, for instance over property boundaries or noise complaints.
  • If you are experiencing issues with another type of insurance, for instance your pension, home insurance or life insurance isn’t paying out or your health insurance is refusing to cover a treatment.

Although it’s not mandatory in Switzerland, many people choose to take out a legal insurance policy in order to feel confident that in these kinds of situations, they can assert their rights through legal action without having to worry about the costs. Although there is some overlap, generally legal insurance covers the gaps where your liability insurance would not provide coverage - for instance, if someone damages your car but their liability insurance refuses to cover the cost.    

Types of legal insurance in Switzerland

Broadly speaking, there are three different types of legal insurance in Switzerland, although the scope of coverage may vary from insurer to insurer. Most can be parcelled together to create a tailored policy that suits your exact needs. 

Personal legal protection insurance

Personal legal protection insurance covers legal disputes in the area of private law, including tenancy law, consumer law and employment law. 

Motor legal protection insurance

Motor legal protection insurance covers legal disputes in connection with road traffic accidents and the purchase, lease or improper repair of a vehicle. 

Commercial legal protection insurance

Commercial legal protection insurance covers legal disputes for self-employed business owners and freelancers.

What does legal protection insurance in Switzerland not cover?

While legal insurance does cover many different kinds of legal expenses, most exclude claims that arise in the following circumstances: 

  • If the legal case is a result of an intentional act or your own wrongdoing
  • If the costs arose or were foreseeable before you took out your insurance policy

Most policies will also not cover claims relating to the following matters (or will only cover them if an additional add-on is purchased):

  • Immigration, for instance, cases related to visas and residence permits
  • Family law disputes like child custody cases, prenuptial agreements, or divorces
  • Disputes over inheritance
  • Disputes with tenants
  • Construction and real estate disputes
  • Matters related to taxation 
  • Criminal proceedings

Legal insurance will also not cover the cost of paying a fine, for instance if you receive a parking ticket or a speeding fine.

Note that you need to take out a special commercial legal protection insurance policy if you want to cover legal expenses related to your professional activities as a self-employed person; a personal legal insurance policy will not suffice. 

What is covered by legal expenses insurance? 

Depending on the insurer and the type of policy that you take out, legal insurance will usually cover the following expenses:

  • Fees charged by a lawyer
  • Court fees
  • Reimbursement for the other party’s legal expenses if you lose your case 
  • Mediation, if you try to find a solution with the other party out of court
  • Reports from experts
  • Bail money (in the form of a loan)

Cost of legal insurance in Switzerland

Legal insurance is relatively inexpensive, with most policies costing no more than a few hundred francs each year. As outlined above, legal insurance policies in Switzerland are usually highly tailored packages, created by bundling together different coverage options - and so the price will depend on the extent of your coverage. 

Your annual premium will also depend on other factors like your age, location, occupation and marital status. 

Many insurers also have deductibles (a preset amount that you have to pay before the company steps in). You can opt for a higher deductible in exchange for lower monthly premiums. It’s worth noting when choosing a policy that some insurers in Switzerland will only cover legal bills once they exceed a certain preset minimum (for instance, 300 francs). The policy will also specify a total maximum sum insured - the higher the maximum, the more expensive the monthly premium.  

Using your personal legal insurance

Most legal insurance policies will only cover cases that started after the policy was taken out. Indeed, many policies won’t apply until after the passing of a so-called “waiting period”. This means that you have to wait for a predetermined period of time before you can make use of your policy - usually three months, although this varies from insurer to insurer.  

After the waiting period is over, you are able to make a claim, if you need. Your first port of call will usually be contacting your insurer. Most insurers in Switzerland will not give you free choice of legal representation and instead will provide you with a lawyer to help with your case. 

Cancelling your legal insurance

When you purchase legal insurance, you enter into a contract with the insurance company. Therefore, you can usually only cancel your legal insurance under certain conditions:

  • At the end of the policy: Pay attention to the notice period (which can sometimes be as much as three months) and be sure to inform your insurer that you wish to cancel your policy in good time, otherwise it might be auto-renewed. 
  • If you make a claim that isn’t covered: If you claim for something but your insurance company refuses to cover it, you should be able to cancel your policy within 14 days. 
  • If you move abroad: If you are no longer resident in Switzerland, you can cancel your insurance policy by providing proof that you have deregistered from your local council


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