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COST OF LIVING

Ten ways to save on car insurance in Switzerland

Car insurance can be expensive, but not having it can be even more expensive. Here are some ways to save.

How do you find a good deal on car insurance in Switzerland? Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

As we wrote about in our guide on the topic, car insurance in Switzerland can also be very complicated. 

For anyone who wants to know the basics of car insurance in Switzerland, check out the following guide on the topic. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland

This guide primarily relates to ways to save money on car insurance – here are some of the best. 

Have we missed something? Get in touch at [email protected].

1. Know what you are getting – and do your research

By far the most important thing to do is your research. Insurers love fine print and sometimes things aren’t what they seem. 

One example is so-called ‘partial Casco with collision’ insurance. 

While this may seem like a good deal where you get the added protection of collision insurance but are on a ‘partial’ plan, in reality this is comprehensive insurance under a different name. 

Most insurers will have a copy of the information in English – or at least be able to answer your questions in English should you have some. 

Besides reading the policy itself, be aware of all your other insurances as these often overlap (more on that below). 

Driving in Switzerland: How to convert your drivers licence for a Swiss one

2. Drop your licence plates at the cantonal office

One of the oldest tricks in the insurance book is one of the most effective. 

Whether you are headed away, whether the car isn’t being used or if it is set for longer-term repairs or upkeep, dropping your licence plates in at the cantonal road traffic office (via another car of course) will suspend the car insurance. 

You will see some of your premiums returned, although exactly how this is determined depends on the insurer. 

You can also return the plates via the post, with the authority informing the insurer (although you’d be best to contact them as well). 

EXPLAINED: How does roadside assistance work in Switzerland?

3. Reconsider your deductible

A bigger deductible will mean a lower premium. By reconsidering your personal circumstances, you may be able to save in the long run depending on where you set your deductible. 

If you need a car to get around primarily, then a bigger deductible may be more appropriate. 

Your premiums will be lower and any major damage will be covered, while you’ll need to cover the cost of smaller damage yourself, for instance, less urgent things like small scratches and windscreen chips that won’t spread 

If you have a luxury car however, you’ll want to keep it spic and span, meaning you might want to pay a little more regularly so that a greater amount of damage is covered. 

Reader question: When must I change to winter tyres in Switzerland?

4. Reconsider the value of your vehicle (and whether you need comprehensive insurance)

This could probably fit under the heading above, but it’s worth considering whether you want full or partial insurance. 

Comprehensive insurance is usually most appropriate for new cars, but makes less sense the older the car gets. 

For older cars however, partial insurance is usually sufficient. 

Insurers only pay out the current value of a car, rather than the amount you paid – or the amount you feel it’s worth. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis recommends comprehensive insurance for the first four years of a new car’s life – and maybe an additional year or two for luxury cars. 

After that, partial insurance “makes more sense”. 

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland can you find the cheapest fuel?

5. Don’t crash

It might seem simple advice both in terms of saving money on insurance and just generally in life, but trying to be a little more careful will make financial sense due to the way Swiss car insurance is structured. 

Most Swiss insurances will have a bonus scheme. 

For people who don’t have any accidents – or more correctly, don’t make any claims – they will usually be entitled to a discount in their regular premiums. 

Over time, this discount can grow as you go for a longer period with no or few claims. 

If you claim regularly however, you will not receive a discount in your premiums – and in some cases your premiums will go up. 

If for some reason you think you will claim regularly – for instance you live in an area with hailstorms and you don’t have a garage, or if you simply just aren’t a very good driver – then you can elect to get an insurance policy with ‘bonus protection’, which will ensure your premium doesn’t rise with more claims (or will not rise by as much). 

6. Check other insurances

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. 

Unfortunately for people who are overinsured, while they pay more than they should, they can’t claim back double. 

Car insurance is compulsory in Switzerland. Here's what you need to know. Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash

Car insurance is compulsory in Switzerland. Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash

7. Don’t be from the Balkans or Turkey

OK so this isn’t something you can exactly help, but studies have shown foreigners pay more for car insurance in Switzerland – particularly from the Balkans and Turkey. 

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. 

Insurers have defended this saying it is an automatic classification based on the amount of crashes people, particularly young men, from those countries have in comparison to Switzerland. 

But if you are from anywhere on that list, it makes financial (and ethical) sense to look for an insurer which doesn’t make such blatant differentiations. 

Swiss car insurance: Why do foreigners pay higher premiums?

8. Avoid long-term contracts

With new, more cost effective options coming up regularly, anyone bound in a long-term deal risks missing out. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis recommends signing only short-term, ideally one-year, deals, or those with an annual right of termination. 

By doing so, you can change to a better deal when appropriate. 

9. Let the insurer choose the garage

Swiss insurance contracts will usually let you decide which garage should be chosen for repairs and maintenance. 

While that might sound good in that you can choose one which is convenient and trustworthy, it will often mean a hike in premiums and a more complicated process for claims. 

EXPLAINED: In which parts of Switzerland are you most likely to lose your driving licence –and why?

10. Crash recorders

Crash recorders are installed in cars and collect a variety of important data including acceleration, speed, date and time leading up to an accident. 

The data can then be used to reconstruct the events and get a better idea of how the accident occurred, while they are also valuable in the instance of vehicle theft. 

Swiss insurer Axa notes that people who install crash recorders can save up to 15 percent in their premiums. 

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 in order to compare). 

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DRIVING

What to do if you have a car accident in Switzerland?

An accident is not on anyone’s ‘to-do’ list, but sometimes bad things unfortunately happen to good people. These are the steps to take if you are involved in a road accident in Switzerland.

What to do if you have a car accident in Switzerland?

Of course, nobody plans on a car accident, with many of us thinking it’ll never happen to us. Even if you are a safe driver, you could still be a victim of an accident caused by another person.

Nearly 18,000 traffic accidents involving injuries  had been reported in Switzerland in 2020 — the last year for which official data is available. Fortunately, the vast majority were relatively minor; over 3,700 people were seriously injured and 227 were killed.

The only bright spot among these grim statistics is that the number of car accidents has dropped considerably — by 62 percent —  in the past two decades.

EXPLAINED: How does roadside assistance work in Switzerland? 

What should you do if you are involved in an accident?

If this happens, it is normal that you might get nervous, stressed out and feel in a state of shock, possibly forgetting how to act and what to do.

The steps to take are the same whether you or the other driver(s) are at fault. According to motoring organisation Touring Club Suisse, this is what you must do immediately after a traffic accident.

Stop and keep calm

This is easier said than done but it is essential that you keep a cool head.

  • First, turn on your distress signals
  • Determine the number of vehicles involved, their positions and the nature of the accident
  • Secure the scene of the accident by installing the warning triangle at least 50 metres (approximately 60 paces) from the scene of the accident. Note to self: make sure you have these triangles in the trunk of your car.

Make an accident report in writing

Describe the course of the accident with the help of the European accident report. If you don’t already have this document, you can download it here.

Always keep this document in the glove compartment of your vehicle: hopefully, you will never need it, but it is  better to be prepared.

In the best-case scenario, everyone involved in the accident can stay polite or, in the very least, civil. All parties can then fill out the accident report together, with each person signing it.

Taking photos of the damage is always helpful.

Declare the accident to the insurance company

Don’t repair your vehicle until after your insurance company has examined it.

If you are at fault, your insurance will settle with the other driver(s)’ insurance; if the other party is responsible, then your carrier with seek compensation from the other policyholders.

READ MORE: Which Swiss canton has the worst drivers?

When should you call emergency services?

Traffic accidents are common and most are minor, not requiring an intervention from emergency services or law enforcement.

However, one or the other (or both) should be called if:

  • You or other people involved are injured (ambulance number: 144)
  • There is a risk of fire or explosion: call the fire department (118)
  • When an argument or a fight erupts among the parties involved in the accident, call police (117).

What equipment should you always have in your car?

In Switzerland, you are only required to have the triangle, according to TCS. Safety vests are not obligatory but it is good to have one nevertheless, as they are compulsory in many other European countries, including Switzerland’s neighbours.

This map shows where the vests are required:

Countries marked in yellow require safety vests. Image: TCS

Another very important thing to know before you even hit the road (though hopefully not literally): car insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, even if it is only the basic one that doesn’t cover your own vehicle, but covers others.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland

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