Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’
This may sound like a joke, but it really isn’t: these small furry animals cause millions of francs in damage to Swiss vehicles each year. This is how you can protect yourself against these critters and their very sharp teeth.
If you own a car in Switzerland which you park outdoors, it is possible that you have tried to start the engine in the morning, only to find that the vehicle “died” overnight.
A variety of mechanical problems could cause this breakdown, but it is very likely that a weasel …weaseled its way under your car and gnawed at the wires, just because that’s what these creatures seem to do in Switzerland.
And if you think that weasel-inflicted damage is rare and inconsequential — it isn’t.
For instance, each year AXA Insurance treats about 17,000 claims of damage perpetrated by weasels, which are particularly active during May and June. In 2020, these claims amounted to approximately 8 million francs.
According to Swiss Professional Automobile Association (UPSA), “weasels like to eat automotive cables, pipes, insulating mats and rubber parts. This is why Swiss vehicles suffer damage estimated at several million francs every year”.
However, weasels don’t just "eat" vehicle components; they attack them in the literal sense of the word.
And it is not a pretty sight — or smell.
These animals “feel very comfortable in the warm environment of engine compartments. They mark their territory by depositing odorous secretions each time they visit a car. Until then, the mammal does not cause any damage. This becomes problematic as soon as one of its congeners enters the same engine compartment and perceives the smell of the other. This awakens the territorial instinct in him. This is why it bites and then gnaws anything that carries the scent of the other animal”, UPSA reports.
Now that you know how and why this happens, the question is — what can you do about it?
One preventive measure recommended by UPSA is to regularly wash the engine, as this may neutralise the animals’ ‘markers’ and deter other weasels from munching.
How much does it cost to repair the damage?
Depending on what kind of havoc a weasel wreaks under the hood, costs of repair vary, with an average price being 450 francs, according to AXA.
It is therefore important to make sure your auto insurance covers weasel damage. The premium will be determined by your car model, its age, and the extent of coverage you choose, but it is an option offered by all Swiss insurance companies.
This is just one more thing to make sure your life in Switzerland doesn’t get too boring.