Just ask Stefan Heusser who, in January this year, relocated from South Africa to Switzerland with his family. With his wife and two children planning to join him at the end of March, he immediately went into research mode to make sure everything was in order for their arrival.
What Stefan discovered what that health insurance in Switzerland is mandatory and finding the right cover isn’t as straightforward as one would hope.
“When I arrived, I didn’t know anything about how the system worked. I thought I had it figured out because there was a lot of information online so I tried to do it myself. I kept being hit with bureaucracy and things I didn’t understand, so it was an uphill battle,” he tells The Local.
Stefan found himself in a race against the clock when he received a warning from the municipality that he only had two weeks to take out cover before being penalised.
“All the different options are really hard to understand, so at the beginning it was a bit of a minefield. After three months you have to have compulsory medical insurance and because I’d tried to do it myself, I was running out of time. I actually got quite stressed,” recalls Stefan.
It was then that Stefan’s wife took matters into her own hands, turning to Facebook to find someone who could help.
She was contacted by Benjamin Wagner from Expat-Savvy, an insurance consultancy company dedicated to English speakers living in Switzerland. Benjamin reassured the Heussers that he could make sure the whole family was covered by all the necessary insurances.
“After a quick chat he really put me at ease,” says Stefan. “Just a couple of days later he got back to me with all my options and talked me through it so it really simplified the process. For me it was a massive relief because I’d been banging my head against the wall for two months and then he did it in a couple of days!”
Benjamin, who has been working in the insurance industry for the last 14 years, explains that taking out health insurance should be the first step when moving to Switzerland. It’s something the Expat-Savvy team can deftly arrange for expats in Switzerland.
But the company’s services don’t end there.
“We do all kinds of insurance,” says Benjamin. “For expats, the most important is usually health insurance because it’s mandatory, but whatever you need to insure, we can cover.”
Once the mandatory insurance had been arranged for the Heussers, they set out to make sure all other bases were covered. Stefan was shocked to learn that in Switzerland you are required to pay for ambulance call-outs, but he was pleased to discover that things like physiotherapy and chiropractic are included in his cover.
He believes the biggest benefit of using Expat-Savvy was having someone on hand to help navigate the Swiss insurance system. It’s an added bonus that Benjamin was able to help Stefan shave 200 CHF off what he would have otherwise paid.
“It is very difficult to get by in Switzerland without German -- even though I speak German I still couldn’t make it through the system. To guide you through the bureaucracy and the complications and to save you money in the end, I’d definitely recommend it. If I’d known about Expat-Savvy before, I wouldn’t have tried to do it myself!”
Benjamin adds, “It’s very important when you come to Switzerland that someone explains to you how the system works because it’s not so easy. We explain it in an easy way, so they don’t lose themselves in the jungle of possibilities.”
Expat-Savvy helps many new and established expats to get the best deal on their Swiss health insurance. The insurance consultancy company prides itself on its ongoing relationships with clients, spanning from their first medical insurance to optimising their premiums, specialising retirement plans, and everything in between.
This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Expat-Savvy.