Mandatory insurances in Switzerland
Insurances you need as a private person in Switzerland – and those you should get additionally
The health care system in Switzerland
Every person residing in Switzerland is obliged to take out basic health insurance with a swiss health insurance company. This basic coverage insures medical and hospital expenses in the event of illness and accident. Validity is always from the official date of entry into Switzerland, and the health insurance must be completed within 3 months from the date of entry. This means that the premiums are then always owed retroactively as of the date of entry.
The choice of health insurance provider is up to you, as long as you do not miss the deadline.
A comparison of premiums and benefits is recommended, as health insurance companies offer various savings options with different insurance models and deductibles.
Basic insurance: different insurance models
The benefits from the basic insurance are identical in all models.
The insurance models in the KVG (Health Insurance Act) differ in the 1st contact you’d have with your doctor, medical center or medical hotline, as well as with a pharmacy or in a combined variant.
Basic insurance: deductible and cost-sharing
The annual deductible of the basic insurance can be freely chosen and is valid for 1 year. Up to this amount, you must pay your own medical bills that are covered only by basic insurance (not those covered directly by supplemental insurance). If you reach this amount during one year, the rest will be covered by the basic insurance until the end of the year. As soon as a new year arrives, you start all over again.
Basically the deductible can be changed for January 1st of a coming year with a notice of 3 months, meaning by the end of November of the current year. In case of Franchise 300 with the standard model, you can also change it already six months in advance.
>– Adult deductibles are: 300, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 or 2500.
–> Children can choose a deductible of 0, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 or 600.
The costs shared by the patient amout to 10% of the medical expenses and arecharged in addition to the deductible. The cost-sharing has an annual maximum of CHF 700 for adults and 350 for children.
What annual deductible (copay) should I choose?
When choosing an annual deductible, consider financial, health and personal circumstances. The premium savings are compared with the possible or probable costs and the ideal variant is calculated strategically.
We will be happy to show you a calculation tailored to you.
Tip: Set aside the premium you save each month and if you need to pay a medical bill or need medication, you already have the money to do so. After a certain time, with this system you will accumulate a considerable capital, which you can use in case of emergency for the health costs, or ideally have at your free disposal.
Voluntary supplementary insurances
Basic insurance covers basic care in the canton of residence for medical and hospital costs in the event of illness, accident or maternity.
Separate benefits such as alternative medicine, stays abroad, semi-private and private hospital coverage, specialist and chief physician treatments, glasses and contact lenses and many other benefits can be insured through supplementary insurances.
Some health insurance companies also offer benefits or participation in preventive activities such as fitness, sports clubs, health check-ups, nutrition counseling, etc.
The basic insurance only covers a maximum of twice the amount that would be paid in the canton of residence. In countries such as America, Canada, and other transoceanic states, this would not suffice, as they cost far more than “just” twice as much. For example, in America, one day of hospitalization can very quickly cost up to CHF 10,000. The customer would therefore have to pay for the difference if he or she has not taken out a corresponding supplementary insurance policy for this purpose.
From the basic insurance you receive 50% of transportation costs, up to max. CHF 500. If you are transported by ambulance, this can cost several thousand of francs, depending on the distance to the nearest hospital. Return transport to Switzerland is usually also not covered by basic insurance. In this case as well it’s useful to have additional coverage to make up for this shortcominig.
In Switzerland, basic coverage only pays for the hospital fees at the place of residence and work. If you were to go to a more expensive hospital outside of these cantons, for example to see a specialist who does not work in your canton of residence or work, the difference in costs would not be covered by basic insurance – and the rates vary extremely from canton to canton.
Since 2012, some services from complementary medicine are also covered by basic insurance, but only if they are performed by physicians with certain additional certificates. Moreover, not all alternative therapies are recognized.
For visual aids, children up to 18 receive one contribution per year. Young adults receive CHF 0.- for this.
People with glasses know that almost every year there is an eye test to be done, and that vision can change very quickly, mostly in the young years, possibly while still studying or through today’s so widespread use of digital means such as PCs, cell phones and tablets. A new pair of glasses may be needed quite quickly. For people wearing glasses or lenses, it is worthwhile to receive a little contribution for this from the health insurance. In many cases, supplementary insurances with a contribution to glasses also cover a contribution to laser vision correction.
Tips and tricks around health insurance
Do I have to have basic and supplementary insurance with the same health insurance company?
Supplementary insurances do not necessarily have to be issued by the same insurer as the basic insurance. These can also be freely selected. The advantage of having a single insurer for basic and supplemental insurance is that you can submit your medical bills directly to the insurer. If you have more than one insurer, we recommend that you always send copies of your invoices to all insurers. The health insurance company which has to pay, will then cover the service.
Why I should sign a multi-year contract
Some supplementary insurances are only available as a multi-year contract. This makes sense insofar as the insurance companies can thus offer more favorable premiums. Supplementary insurances can be cancelled at the end of the contract (check the relevant notice periods), or if you leave Switzerland permanently, or if the premium increases (change in premium due to entry into a different age category does not count as a premium increase).
How and when can I change basic insurance
Basic insurance, on the other hand, can be changed annually and independently of supplementary insurance. Every year between the end of September and the beginning of October, the FOPH and FINMA audit the basic insurance premiums of all basic insurers in Switzerland. The health insurance companies then send the new policies with the correspondingly changed premiums to their customers. Due to this premium adjustment, you can then cancel your basic insurer by November 30 and take out a cheaper one as of January 01 of the following year.
A comparison of premiums is worthwhile, as you can generate large savings with a cheaper basic insurance – in addition, the benefits are the same for all insurers, as the basic insurance and corresponding benefits are required by law under the KVG (Federal Law on Health Insurance).
If you bring a car into Switzerland, you must have it checked and registered with the road traffic office.
During the vehicle inspection, proof of insurance must already be provided so that the vehicle may be used during the inspection, and definitely redeemed after the inspection.
Here, too, it is worthwhile to compare offers in advance and to consider the benefits and deductibles.
Mandatory here is only the liability insurance (coverage for damage to third parties by your vehicle). Voluntary are all additional coverages like: Natural hazards, comprehensive, parking damage, time value supplement, bonus protection, gross negligence, etc.
For newer vehicles, not older than 5-6 years makes a fully comprehensive insurance (own damage to own vehicle). Cover sense. Collision coverage is even mandatory for leased vehicles. Partial coverage usually makes sense as well. This covers damage to your vehicle that is not caused by you but, for example, by natural events or other external factors(fire damage, glass breakage, water damage, theft).
Voluntary and additional:
Bonus protection (your bonus level does not change despite any claims) / gross negligence (in the event of damage caused by your failure to observe the traffic rules, you will still be covered (–> Attention: there are some exclusions such as drug use/alcohol, etc.) / Time value supplement (normally a vehicle is insured in case of total loss only for the value at the time of the claim, which gets lower and lower as the vehicle gets older – the time value supplement provides for an additional insured value in case of total loss).
Pension plan Pillar 3a and 3b
The 3-pillar principle in Switzerland
For the financial consequences of disability (due to accident or illness) old age (retirement), death (protection of survivors), maternity, unemployment, etc., Switzerland has a “protection” system consisting of 3 pillars, two of which are mandatory and one optional.
I Pillar – State pension
for all residents in the
Age survivors and
II Pillar – Occupational pension
for (almost) all employees
Survivors and invalids
III Pillar – Private pension
A 3a insurance enables the achievement of short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. The combinations can be flexibly selected and adapted to the customer’s needs. For this reason, a personal consultation is highly recommended here, so that the customer’s goals may be analyzed and appropriate solution proposals developed, compared and suggested.
Advantages of a pillar 3a at a glance
This system is built from different insurances that are supposed to protect Switzerland’s residents. However, there are some gaps, especially in the area of old-age provision and disability. For this reason, there is the 3rd pillar, which is optinal and allows the population to supplement the gaps from the first two pillars.
Benefits for old age, i.e. after retirement, from the I and II pillars account for about 60% of a resident’s accustomed income. The gap of 40% is enormous and can be covered with the private pension 3 a/b tailored to the needs of the person.
In addition to supplementing retirement provision, the 3rd pillar offers other very interesting benefits: saving taxes, financing your own home, providing for your family.
Other useful insurances
With private provision in 3rd pillar you can fill all the lacks of coverage of the first and second pillar. In order to be able to devote oneself to hobbies and leisure time after retirement, one needs at least the income one had before: more time for leisure and thus for spending. In order to be able to enjoy old age, a retirement plan in 3a is recommended.
By paying into your voluntary Pillar 3a, you help to secure your old age after retirement, which is why the state grants you a tax gift: the contributions paid in can be deducted annually from taxable income. With a maximum deposit, this can amount to up to CHF 2,000 tax deduction each year.
With a 3a policy, you can grant part of the capital used for a mortgage and thus indirectly use the saved capital while enjoying the other benefits of the Third Pillar.
Protect family and risk coverage
With a 3a insurance policy, you can insure additional risks, such as a lump sum death benefit for your family, and you can secure premium waivers in the event of disability, so that you can keep your insurance until the end in any case.
Combined household and building insurance
Insurance for damages that happen in the home
Household insurance is not compulsory in most cantons in Switzerland, but is recommended in most cases.
The risk of “fire and natural hazards” must be insured in the cantons of Nidwalden, Vaud, Jura and Fribourg. Nidwalden and Jura have a cantonal fire insurance, whereas in Jura and Fribourg the insurer can be chosen freely.
This insurance covers financial losses due to “fire/elemental damage”, “water damage”, “glass breakage” and “theft”. The modules can be freely combined.
Insured objects include all movable objects not permanently attached to the building. Imagine cutting off the roof a house and turning the house upside down: everything that falls out is one of the insured items on the household insurance.
When is household insurance recommended?
Imagine your home burns down due to a fire and all of your furniture, accessories, electronics, decorations, etc. are damaged and need to be replaced – if you can’t afford to pay this amount yourself, it is recommended to have a homeowner’s insurance. The choise of the insured sum is very important: it depends on the number of rooms and, of course, the equipment: is it expensive furniture, do you have many, expensive decorations and valuables? The flat rate per room is about 20’000 CHF with a middle class equipment. The best thing to do here is to make an inventory list with your consultant and evaluate the situation.
Private liability insurance is not mandatory in Switzerland, but it makes sense in any case.
This insurance can be taken in combination with household insurance or separately. In combination with household insurance, you benefit from a combination discount in most policies.
Personal liability insurance covers financial burdens resulting of damage that you, as a private person, have caused to third parties. Liability also defends against unjustified claims for benefits, which is why it is also colloquially referred to as “passive legal protection”.
With personal liability insurance you are insured in various roles
As a private individual if you damage someone else’s property through carelessness, as a parent if your child shatters the neighbor’s window pane with a poorly kicked ball while playing soccer, as a pet owner if your frightened dog bites another person, as a tenant if the perfume bottle slips out of your hand and damages the sink in your rented apartment, as a sportsperson, as a gun holder, as a cyclist, or if you are using a borrowed object belonging to another person, like a colleague’s bicycle, and damage it in a fall, etc.
Important: When taking out insurance, you must disclose whether you own animals, ride horses, hunt, or occasionally drive vehicles owned by others. These risks must be listed in the policy for coverage to be guaranteed.
If you are not a tenant but a homeowner, you must also take out building(fire)-insurance under certain conditions.
This insurance is mandatory in 22 cantons and must be taken out with a cantonal fire insurance company. This insurance is voluntary in the cantons: Geneva, Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Valais. In the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Obwalden, insurance is also compulsory, but the insurer can be freely chosen and it is not mandatory to take out insurance with the cantonal office.
In contrast to the household insurance, the “parts” that are connected to the building are insured here, i.e. the building itself with its components (roof, windows, doors,…) and the structural furnishings (built-in cupboards, built-in kitchen,…). The insured risks are the same as for household insurance: fire, theft, water and glass breakage.
Liability coverage can be obtained here as well. In particular, this should be taken out by owners who own an apartment building with more than 3 apartments, or rent out the condominium as a vacation home, or own an apartment building with fewer than 3 apartments, but do not occupy at least one apartment of them themselves. Owners who do not meet the mentioned conditions do not need building liability insurance, because the liability coverage in these cases is already covered by the personal liability.
If you own several expensive pieces of jewelry, paintings, valuable vases, expensive watches, fur coats or other valuables, it is worth taking out a separate valuables insurance policy in addition to the household insurance policy, which already covers an amount of valuables agreed in accordance with the policy.
This insurance pays compensation for your valuables in “all risk”, i.e. in addition to damage caused by water, fire, theft or glass breakage, also in the event of loss, misplacement, destruction (by other than natural events) and loss.
Such an insurance is usually worthwhile for the possession of valuables from CHF 3000. Otherwise, this could already be included and insured in the household insurance without too large a premium surcharge.