Swiss Life posts fall in first-half profits

Insurance giant Swiss Life on Friday posted a first-half drop in net profit to 361 million francs ($371 million) that nonetheless beat market forecasts.

Swiss Life posts fall in first-half profits
Photo: Swiss Life

Analysts had pencilled in profits closer to 309 million francs.

Falling demand in the group's key sectors was countered by increasing profitability, with operating profit up 17 percent to 528 million francs despite a 2.6 percent fall in premiums to 9.8 billion francs.

Swiss Life managing director Bruno Pfister said he was very happy with business in the first half of the year despite historically low interest rates and "continuing volatility" in the market place.

"That shows that we have been able to make our sales model tougher in recent years," he said.

AWD, the group's German financial services provider, saw net profits sink 63 percent to 6 million francs and commission income fall 18.6 percent to 275 million francs.

Its contribution to group earnings fell to €13.1 million after it set aside more than €9 million for litigation.

Shares in Swiss Life were up 3.7 percent to 105.5 francs in late morning trading amid general market gains of 0.53 percent.

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EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Swiss insurance companies offer a variety of services, but the one covering legal disputes is among the most popular ones. This is what you should know about it.

EXPLAINED: Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland
Law and order: Legal insurance may make it easier. Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

The Swiss like to be prepared for all kinds of disasters — both real and imaginary.

This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s a policy that covers damages inflicted on cars by weasels, or insurance for theft of sleds and skis placed outside a mountain restaurant, people here don’t like to leave anything to chance.

One of the most popular optional coverages — as opposed the health insurance, which is compulsory — is legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

What is it and what does it cover?

Simply put, it covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Some carriers also insure cases related to marital law and inheritance.

Most will not cover attorney fees for criminal cases where you are the perpetrator, or financial disputes related to asset management, banking and investment.

Also excluded is legal action related to political or religious activism.

Can you choose your own lawyer or will you have one assigned to you by the insurance company?

Typically, an insurer has a roster of approved attorneys with whom it works. Some allow the client to choose from the list, while  others select one for you.

If your own lawyer is part of your insurer’s roster, you can request he or she represents you, but it is not guaranteed.

How much does this insurance cost?

Fees vary depending on what coverage you need (traffic accidents, general, or combined), whether they have deductibles, and how high they are.

You can compare the premiums by using this link.

Do you actually need this coverage?

As is the case with any optional insurance, you don’t need it until you do.

Generally speaking, and according to online consumer comparison site, “if you require legal consultation at least once every two years, getting personal legal insurance often makes financial sense. Just the legal consultation benefits which you get with some insurance policies can make up for the cost of premiums”.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?