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How can I navigate the insurance maze?

There are several types of insurance in Switzerland. But which types of insurance are really mandatory and which are optional?

Switzerland is also unique in that obligations to take out insurance may vary from canton to canton.

Mandatory insurance

Health insurance

Mandatory for everyone

As soon as you arrive in Switzerland, you should take out health insurance, regardless of your nationality.

Individuals who work in Switzerland but decide to live in a neighbouring country can exercise an option that allows them to take out insurance in their country of residence if they prefer.

Motor vehicle insurance

Mandatory for vehicle owners

If you own a vehicle in Switzerland, you must take out civil liability insurance to cover any damage you may cause, e.g. in the event of an accident.

In all EU/EEA Member States as well as Andorra and Serbia, the Swiss licence plate is considered an insurance certificate, meaning that you are also covered for civil liability in these countries.

Basic state pension and disability insurance (AVS – AI)

Mandatory for everyone

If you live in Switzerland, you will automatically be covered by the basic state pension and disability insurance.

Building insurance

Mandatory for property owners

This insurance is mandatory in most cantons and covers external damage such as fire, water damage and natural disasters.

Accident insurance

Mandatory for all employees

Legally employers must cover all employees against accidents.

Individuals working from home, apprentices, trainees and volunteers must also be insured.

Some individuals who are not employees have to take out their own accident insurance, e.g. stay-at-home wives/husbands, pensioners and students.

Optional insurance

The following types of insurance are optional, but highly recommended:

Private civil liability


Private liability insurance covers any damage you may cause to a third party. You are liable for any damage that you cause to another person, whether intentionally or not, and you are legally responsible for remedying it.

If you are responsible for a third party, and that individual causes damage, you are automatically liable.

Household contents insurance


Household contents insurance covers damage to property inside your home as well as theft.

For example, you can take out insurance against:

  • naturally occurring fires, smoke and lightning
  • break-ins, theft outside the home, robbery and pickpocketing
  • naturally occurring events such as floods, hail, avalanches, landslides and mudslides
  • water damage as a result of pipes

Vehicle insurance


‘Full or partial casco’ vehicle insurance covers damage caused to your own car.

Damage to your car, e.g. caused by an accident, is covered by ‘full casco’ insurance. ‘Partial casco’ insurance only covers damage caused by another person to your car.

In both cases, you can choose which risks you want to cover , e.g. fire, theft, collisions with an animal, hailstones, etc.

However, ‘partial casco’ insurance does not cover collisions.

Supplementary health insurance


Supplementary health insurance includes care not covered by basic insurance.

The supplementary health insurance policies most frequently taken out are:

  • hospitalisation in a general ward throughout Switzerland
  • hospitalisation in private or semi-private wards
  • dental care
  • alternative treatments, e.g. homeopathy

Legal protection


Legal expenses insurance provides legal and financial support in the event of a professional or private dispute.

If necessary, legal expenses insurance may cover the costs of a lawyer, legal services or other costs related to the dispute.

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