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Reader question: What insurance is obligatory in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: What insurance is obligatory in Switzerland?
You can't drive in Switzerland without insurance. Photo: Pixabay

By law, everyone living in the country, whether a Swiss or foreign national, must have certain insurance policies. Here are four mandatory insurances that you need to know about.


Being a new resident in Switzerland implies some administrative burden — not exactly a pleasant task, but a necessary process nevertheless.

For instance, you must announce your arrival at your local commune within 14 days — though in some places the deadline may be longer.

READ ALSO: Why you need to tell Swiss authorities where you live 

By the same token, you will have to take out some insurance policies that every resident is obligated to have.

Health insurance

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —  is compulsory.

As soon as you settle in Switzerland, you will receive a letter from your canton telling you to purchase, within three months of your arrival, a health insurance policy for you and all the members of your family from one of the dozens of approved providers. 

After you do so, you must send the authorities a copy of your policy to prove that you have one.

Without a health insurance policy, you will not only be refused medical care other than for vital emergencies, but you will also not be able to register at your commune of residence, rent an apartment, get employment, and be denied many other services as well.

Some people are, however, exempted from having to purchase a health insurance policy:

You are not required to take out Swiss insurance if:

  • You are retired and get a pension exclusively in an EU or EFTA state
  • You are a cross-border worker with healthcare policy in a EU or EFTA state
  • You are a foreign student and have comparable insurance from your country
  • You work for international organisations or are a diplomat


Accident insurance

Your employer is required to take out accident insurance for you, deducting the premium from your salary.

In case you are registered as self-employed, you must take out personal accident insurance yourself.

Everyone else —  stay at home parents, students, and pensioners — are covered against accidents through the  compulsory KVG/LaMal insurance.

Car insurance (if you own a vehicle)

It is illegal in Switzerland (as in many other countries) to drive without the third-party vehicle liability insurance, which covers damage caused to other drivers and their cars.

You are free to take out upgraded insurance coverage that also covers your own vehicle — as most people do — but the third-party one is the only one required by law. 

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


Natural disasters

This particular insurance, which covers your dwellings in case of fire and natural disasters, is mandatory in only 19 cantons: Aargau, Appenzell-Ausserrhoden, Basel-City, Basel-Country, Bern, Fribourg, Glarus, Graubünden, Jura, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, Nidwalden, St-Gallen, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, Thurgau, Vaud, Zug, and Zurich.

These are the four insurances that you must buy, with the last one based on where you live.

There are also quite a few optional insurance policies which can bring you additional benefits and peace of mind, For instance:

Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland? 

Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland 

Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’



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