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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.

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. Here's what you need to know. Photo by Michael Jin on Unsplash

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. 

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

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). 

Liability insurance 

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. 

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

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

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. 

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

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. 

EXPLAINED: How does roadside assistance work in Switzerland?

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. 

Swiss car insurance: Why do foreigners pay higher premiums?

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). 

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Five things to consider when organising childcare in Switzerland

Switzerland's childcare costs are among the world's highest, although there are some ways to save. Originally from the United States but now raising children in Zug, writer Ashley Franzen takes you through some of the most important things you need to consider when finding childcare in Switzerland.

Five things to consider when organising childcare in Switzerland

Switzerland has a peculiar dichotomy when it comes to childcare. Although many parents both work full-time, Switzerland has traditionally been hands off when it comes to childcare support for families with children under five, leading to some of the highest childcare costs in the world. 

For older kids there is before and after-school care that is offered by the canton, but for younger kids who haven’t quite started kindergarten, it can pose problems for parents who are in need of reliable care, particularly those who don’t have grandparents to rely on. 

According to the Swiss Federal Council, “Grandparents as well as daycare centres and extra-school care facilities are the most frequently used forms of childcare, with each category accounting for a third of provision for children aged 0 to 12 years. 81 percent of families in large cities turned to extra-family care for their children compared with 66 percent of families in rural areas. Parents’ satisfaction with the care facilities is high, but there is still unmet demand.” 

What alternative childcare options do I have in Switzerland?

There are various childcare and nursery options for babies and toddlers up through young children aged five or six. Each canton offers childcare, though often there are lengthy waitlists for available spots.

READ ALSO: ‘A developing country’: Why do so few Swiss children attend childcare?

An alternative might be a private or bilingual daycare, but the costs for these are even higher than the locally-run childcares, and sometimes have longer waitlists.

Get on a list early as it’s important to get the ball rolling on paperwork, especially as a foreigner in Switzerland. 

An alternate option is to find the equivalent of a Tagesmütter, or a carer who opens up their home to taking care of up to four children at a time, when there is space available.

The costs remain about the same, but it can be easier to get placement for childcare with an in-their-own-home carer.

Some families opt to hire a nanny, but it may not be possible financially for all families. As for bringing an Au Pair to join the family, there are specific rules and regulations in Switzerland surrounding pay, number of hours they can work (about half of which you would need to be present for), and language rules– the main one being they cannot speak the same language as the family. Additionally, language classes are stipulated for the duration of their stay. 

Suffice it to say, that there are quite a few hurdles to overcome and in order to make sure your family is supported with reliable childcare to meet your needs.

Below are five things to consider as you plan out and organise childcare in Switzerland.

Children play with educational tools. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

1. Compare the options

Childcare in Switzerland is top notch, albeit expensive, so make sure you take the time to figure out where you want to enrol your child.

Some of the best programs are actually run as not-for-profit organisations, such as KiBiz in Zug.

READ ALSO: What alternative childcare options do I have in Zurich?

Most daycares offer a pedagogically strong curriculum and having them at a local daycare gives your child the opportunity to learn the local language. 

2. Decide on someone to name as your emergency contact

This can be a bit harder if you don’t have family or friends nearby, but double check with a colleague or someone that you trust in the case of an emergency or illness.

Finding a colleague that is willing to help by picking up the kids when they were sick when both parents find themselves out of town can be incredibly helpful. 

READ MORE: How much does it cost to raise a child in Switzerland?

3. See if you qualify for subsidies

According to the OECD, Switzerland has the highest cost for childcare among wealthy countries. Cantons are in the process of trying to increase the amount of money they’re able to allocate for assisting families with the costs.

If your household income is under a certain amount (it varies by canton), then it might be possible to have some of the costs of your family’s childcare covered. 

4. Consider having a babysitter or two on hand that you can call

As a foreign parent in Switzerland, sometimes it makes sense to have someone extra to call on for help with childcare coverage– even if you don’t think you’ll need anyone.

Meetings get moved, appointments need to be rescheduled, and sometimes there’s the odd school workday, where kids do not attend classes.

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

In situations like these, having someone to reach out to, who can help provide coverage (and perhaps even the occasionally date night) helps provide a safety net for parents that might not have any backup to call at the spur of the moment. 

5. Be open for and prepared to have a hurdle or two, be it language or logistics

Many of the institutions around the country, particularly for younger kids are really good at filling in the parents on what the kids have done during the day, what they’ve eaten, how they’ve acted. The seemingly hardest part is actually filing the paperwork and piecing together care, particularly if you don’t speak the local language.

Wendy Noller is originally from Australia, and now lives in Luzern with her husband, and their two children, aged five and seven.

When they were getting signed up for Kita, she expresses that there were quite a few hurdles to consider.

READ ALSO: How different is raising kids in Switzerland compared to the United States?

Initially they received a letter from Canton Luzern stating that there weren’t enough places for their daughter. “We had heard negative reviews from other expats, but learned that there really are a lot of myths around childcare– that it’s not good quality, or there aren’t enough places. My husband and I work 100 percent and [when registering the kids], found the local authority to be both very helpful and responsive.”

She adds that she would call or email every couple days after receiving the letter to express that they both worked full-time and were really interested in their daughter integrating.

In the end, just a couple days before school started, they were told there was a place available for her. 

While their situation had a happy ending, sometimes other backup plans need to be put in place. Organising childcare in Switzerland is doable and having a fellow foreigner who has gone through it before to help share their experience or how to go about it can make a difference in how easy or how difficult it feels. 

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