Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland
Some Swiss car insurance is mandatory, and some is completely unnecessary. Here’s what you need to know.
Despite Switzerland’s excellent public transport infrastructure, driving is a great way to see Switzerland.
While Swiss roads can be long, complex and winding, that’s nothing in comparison with navigating the twists and turns of the Swiss automotive insurance system.
From time to time, we receive questions from our readers about car insurance in Switzerland.
We’ve decided to put them together into one large guide on the topic.
Have we missed something? Get in touch at [email protected].
How does car insurance work in Switzerland?
As the home of many large national and International insurers, it’s no surprise that there are a wide range of options when it comes to car insurance in Switzerland.
The following then is more general advice based on common practices and popular policies. There are a number of insurers who offer specific policies which may be tailored to unique situation - you will just need to shop around to find them.
There are several types of car insurance in Switzerland. Liability insurance is mandatory for every car registered in Switzerland, while collision insurance, partial or full Casco insurance tend to be optional (but can be compulsory in some cases).
All cars registered in Switzerland must have liability insurance, otherwise known as compulsory insurance, third party liability insurance or civil responsibility insurance.
Besides being mandatory, this insurance is incredibly important as it covers not only the damage your car does to other vehicles, but also to other people.
This insurance covers almost all kinds of damage up to millions of francs, which could mean the difference between regular premiums and financial ruin - but it’s compulsory anyway, so you don’t have a choice in the matter.
Liability insurance will cost you around CHF3-400 per year, depending on deductibles.
One area where you may have some discretion is on the deductible. Higher deductible, lower premiums (and vice versa).
In making the call on how much of a deductible you want, think about how you use your car and how valuable your car is.
For a luxury car or a work car, you may need to call on your insurance more often, meaning that a lower deductible will be better.
For a standard car, a higher deductible will most likely mean you save overall.
Partial Casco insurance
(German: Teilkasko, French: casco partielle)
Partial Casco insurance provides a range of protection for you and your car.
To make things even more confusing, sometimes partial Casco with collision insurance is actually full Casco (but more on that below).
You are protected for a variety of incidents including damage, theft (of both car and your stuff inside), vandalism and collision with animals.
You are also protected for a range of ‘natural damages’, which includes damage from inclement weather (floods, hail etc). Damage by animals is also covered.
Partial Casco will likely cost between CHF500-1,000.
What partial Casco does not protect you from however is collision. For that, you will need comprehensive insurance.
Full Casco/comprehensive insurance
(German: Vollkasko, French: casco complète)
Full Casco, otherwise known as comprehensive or collision insurance, is the most complete policy you can have.
Full Casco covers what is laid out above - along with collision insurance. Full Casco will cost anywhere between CHF1,000 and CHF2,000.
Full Casco - like partial Casco - is optional, but may be compulsory if you lease rather than buy your car.
Collision insurance basically covers you when you are the cause of a collision. If you are not at fault, then you will be covered by the liability insurance of the other driver.
While whether you need the additional protection or not is up to you, Swiss comparison site Comparis recommends it only for new cars - and in the first four to five years of a car’s life.
This is because insurers will cover the actual value of the car, not what you paid.
What optional extras should I consider?
There are optional extras you may add to your insurance package, although these relate to specific personal circumstances.
For instance, if you often transport people from outside the Schengen region, then occupant insurance will be worthwhile (more on that below).
Other optional extras include coverage of legal proceedings an incident goes to court and coverage for damage while the vehicle is parked (where that damage isn’t covered above, i.e. weather or animal damage).
Roadside assistance is also another optional extra. We have covered this separately in the guide below.
Is there a better insurance for foreigners in Switzerland?
While we won’t be endorsing one insurance company over another, a good start would be to choose an insurer that can communicate with you in English (or your native language).
Most insurers will allow you to take your car abroad, provided of course you don’t go much further than the Schengen zone. If you come from the UK, for instance, you may want to make sure how much coverage you have if you drive back home.
Another tip is to avoid an insurer which charges foreigners more.
A study by Switzerland’s Comparis service showed insurance companies charge foreigners more than Swiss - sometimes 60 percent more.
This isn’t just foreigners generally, but is based on particularly nationalities.
People from Kosovo, Albania, Serbia and Turkey all paid roughly 60 percent more than the Swiss. People from Portugal (24%), Italy (13%) and Spain (12%) also paid more.
More information is available at the following link.
Does Swiss car insurance attach to the car or the driver(s)?
Generally speaking, car insurance will attach to the car rather than the driver in Switzerland.
If you want to insure a driver, you will need a specific or additional policy to cover this.
If you have several cars, most insurers will offer a multiple car policy or options if you transfer your plates from one car to another.
What about excess/deductibles and premiums?
As with most insurance systems, having a higher deductible is likely to lower your premium, and vice versa.
Think about how often you are likely to claim and what it might mean for your premiums before you choose a deductible.
Do you want every scratch covered? Then a lower deductible works. Do you only want to be insured for more serious accidents? Then a higher deductible (with lower premiums) may be for you.
What about other insurances?
This is a major factor to consider and one which catches many people out.
Many people are overinsured in Switzerland without even knowing it.
This means that two or more insurance premiums cover the same items.
In the content of car insurance, you may be paying for items carried in the car - but if you have home and contents insurance, this will already be covered in most instances.
Another example is occupant accident insurance, which is unnecessary as Switzerland’s compulsory accident insurance covers this already.
Anyone from the Schengen zone is in fact required to have accident insurance, meaning that occupant insurance is only really worthwhile if you are transporting people from outside the Schengen zone.
Unfortunately for people who are overinsured, while they pay more than they should, they can’t claim back double.
What about foreign cars in Switzerland or cars with foreign licence plates?
The mandatory insurance obligation only applies to cars registered in Switzerland, i.e. with Swiss licence plates.
So, which insurer and policy should I choose?
Choosing an insurer and a policy depends on a variety of personal factors including how much you drive, what kind of car you have, number of drivers or passengers and of course your budget.
While it is beyond the scope of this report to discuss which insurance policy is right for you, but one thing you can do is take advantage of the many comparison sites which tend to be independent of one particular insurer.
Switzerland’s Comparis is one of the better comparison sites and includes policies from several different insurers.
Please remember this is a guide only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. For tailored advice on your situation, get in touch with a registered car insurer (or a few, so you can compare).