Liability insurance in Switzerland

Liability insurance in Switzerland

Accidents happen - more often than you might think. Liability insurance in Switzerland provides cover, should you accidentally cause harm to another person or their belongings. While not a compulsory type of insurance in Switzerland, plenty of people choose to take out personal liability insurance for peace of mind. For dog owners, it is compulsory in most Swiss cantons

Getting personal liability coverage in Switzerland

The following providers all offer personal liability coverage in Switzerland:

  • CSS
  • Zurich Insurance
  • AXA
  • Helvetia

Liability insurance in Switzerland

Also known as personal liability insurance, third-party liability insurance or private liability insurance, liability insurance covers you in situations where you cause damage or loss to another person. In Switzerland, you are liable for any damages you cause to third parties - even if it was accidental - with all of your personal assets. 

To protect themselves, therefore, plenty of people choose to take out a liability insurance policy. Although not mandatory like car insurance or health insurance, liability insurance is one of the most commonly-held types of private insurance in Switzerland, because in practice many landlords will refuse to rent an apartment to you without it, and most people who own a dog are required to have liability insurance (read more about this on our pet insurance page). 

What is liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)?

Liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung) covers situations in which the insured person causes personal damage, object damage or wealth damage to a third party. When you cause damage to another person, you are obliged to remedy it; a liability insurance policy will cover the cost of this. Depending on the situation and the scale of the damage, having liability insurance could save you from personal bankruptcy. 

What is covered by personal liability insurance?

Simply put, personal liability insurance provides coverage for situations where accidents or mishaps could cause damage to people, belongings or things. This includes:

  • Injuries to people or animals
  • Damage to property (even in a rented home)
  • Damage mitigation expenses (e.g. if things are damaged by the water used to put out a fire)
  • Financial loss as a result of personal injury or damage to property
  • Defence if someone makes an unjustified claim against you

Imagine you knock over a passerby on your bike, drop and break a friend’s mobile phone, or your child kicks a football across the road, causing a traffic accident that injures several people, damages three cars, and stops all of the people involved from getting to work

In these cases, you would be liable for all of the financial damages caused - this could include not only the cost of medical treatment for the person you hit, or the cost of replacing your friend’s phone, but also in the latter situation, the repair work to the cars, the medical care for the people injured, and compensation for lost salaries for anyone unable to work due to the incident.

Depending on the situation, you could quickly find yourself facing a bill of hundreds of thousands of francs. Liability insurance would cover this cost. 

As well as standard cover, most insurance companies also offer optional extras to cover you in other situations, such as: 

  • Coverage abroad
  • Accidents while using rented or borrowed vehicles
  • Damage to other people’s vehicles (for instance, if you lose your no-claims bonus)
  • Damage caused by your pets
  • Insurance for secondary occupations (for instance if you are self-employed)

What isn’t covered?

Generally speaking, personal liability insurance in Switzerland does not cover damages, injuries or losses if: 

  • They are sustained by you as the policyholder, or someone living in your household (this is covered by your or their accident insurance, or basic or supplemental health insurance)
  • They occur in your home, to your personal belongings (this is covered by your home insurance)
  • They are caused by a motor vehicle (this is covered by your car insurance)
  • They are caused by you in a professional capacity
  • They are the result of wear and tear, gross negligence or a lack of foresight
  • They resulted in connection with a crime committed intentionally

You can also take out legal insurance to cover some 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.    

Who is covered by your liability insurance policy?

In Switzerland, most liability insurers cover both you as a policyholder and everyone else who lives together with you in the same household - this could be your partner, your family and kids, or even housemates. 

As a parent, you are liable for the damages caused by your children. 

How much does liability insurance cost in Switzerland?

Basic personal liability insurance doesn’t need to break the bank, with policies starting at just a few francs per month. Policies can be tailored to meet your exact needs, and range in terms of the maximum cover they offer. You can also choose to pay a greater deductible - the amount you pay out of your own pocket in the event of a claim, before the insurance company steps in - to reduce your monthly premiums. 

Since most insurers offer multiple different types of insurance, you can usually combine liability insurance with other types of insurance like car insurance or life insurance and benefit from lower premiums. Many insurers offer home insurance and private liability insurance combined into one policy, covering mishaps both inside and outside your home. 

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