Insurance is just one of the ongoing costs you have to cover in order to get around by car in Switzerland. Liability car insurance is mandatory, and if you drive a new or valuable car you will probably want to cover it with semi-comprehensive or comprehensive car insurance as well.
That coverage comes at a price. FINMA data released by the ASA/SVV reveals that between 2010 and 2015, Swiss car owners spent 16,292,475,000 Swiss francs on liability insurance alone. Total car insurance expenditures in Switzerland during the same period came to a whopping 34,133,740,000 francs.
Unless you are in the car insurance business, helping to cut that statistic is a smart financial move. Here, moneyland.ch lists 9 possible ways to cut car insurance spending in Switzerland.
1. Cut out unnecessary insurance
A good first step is to determine what car insurance coverage you actually need. If you drive an older car with a relatively low resale value, then paying for semi-comprehensive or fully-comprehensive car insurance is not usually worth it. Passenger insurance is not necessary if all passengers are covered by obligatory accident insurance. If your household insurance covers property which you take with you when you leave your home, there is no need to get additional coverage for stuff you keep in your car.
2. Compare premiums
Some people may tell you that Swiss car insurance providers are not very competitive and premiums are basically the same no matter who you get your insurance from. That is not the case. Differences in the premiums you pay for the most expensive policies can be twice as high as those you pay for the most affordable policies. Take time to compare premiums (online, for example) and request multiple quotes. Avoid policies with a term of more than 1 year because tying yourself into a policy long-term makes it difficult to switch when a cheaper policy hits the market.
3. Take advantage of membership discounts
If you are a member of a motor club, association or trade union, you may be eligible for car insurance discounts. For example, Unia offers its members a discount at Smile Direct. The Swiss executive association SKO/ASC offers its members discounts on comprehensive car insurance from Zurich Insurance and Generali.
Members of the Swiss homeowners association HEV Schweiz can get a discount on car insurance from Zurich Insurance. Migros employees and retired former employees benefit from discounted premiums at Generali. Many other employers and associations have similar insurance partnerships and checking into possible discounts is always a good idea.
4. Choose a higher deductible
How often do you claim on your semi-comprehensive or fully-comprehensive car insurance policies? If you rarely or never file claims and just want to be insured against the possibility of major damages, then choosing a higher deductible can save you money. As a rule, the higher the deductible you choose, the lower your premiums will be.
5. Attend defensive driving courses
Some Swiss insurance providers discount premiums for policyholders who attend defensive driving courses. For example, Die Mobiliar/La Mobilière offers both discounted premiums for defensive driving course graduates and a 100-franc contribution towards the cost of taking a course. Helvetia adds bonus points to your bonus-malus car insurance policies (liability and comprehensive) after you complete a defensive driving course.
6. Choose your car carefully
Buying a car is often an emotional decision, and how the car handles and makes you feel are the deciding factors in many cases. But if you are not a major automobile enthusiast and simply want to get from A to B at the lowest possible cost, then opting for cars which command low insurance premiums can be a clever economic decision.
In Switzerland, premiums are primarily based on the size of a car’s engine. Typically, the smaller the motor, the less you pay in premiums. Some insurers offer special discounts for high-economy vehicles and alternative-fuel vehicles because statistically, those vehicles have fewer accidents. For example, TCS provides insurance discounts of up to 30% on for cars with emission ratings of 130g of CO2 per kilometer – or less. Helvetia cuts up to 25% off car insurance premiums for hybrids, electric cars and LPG driven cars.
7. Use transferable license plates
In Switzerland, it is possible to obtain one set of license plates which can be used for two separate cars. If you own two cars but do not use both of them at them same time, you can simply fix the transferable license plates to the car which you are currently using. You only pay premiums for compulsory car liability insurance for the car with the higher premium, so the second car is insured on a complimentary basis.
For example, if you own a small car which you use to commute on weekdays and a larger car or RV which you use on weekends, you can use a single set of license plates and simply transfer them from your commuting car to your leisure car on weekends. You save the liability car insurance premiums on one car.
If you want semi-comprehensive car insurance or fully-comprehensive car insurance, you will have to get separate policies for each car. This coverage is useful if you own new or valuable cars, because the cars themselves are protected whether on the road or in your driveway. Some Swiss insurance companies offer multiple-policy discounts which you can take advantage of when insuring two cars. But comprehensive insurance is not obligatory, and the premiums you pay may not be worth it if you own cars with a low resale value.
8. Put unused license plates on hold
If for some reason you will not be using your car or motorcycle for a longer period of time (while on a long vacation or trip, over the winter), you can deposit your license plates at your local road traffic office. You will not be required to have car liability insurance coverage while your license plates are deposited.
Most Swiss car insurers will put both your liability and comprehensive car insurance policies on hold if your license plates are deposited. Both Helvetia and Zurich continue to cover your unused car for up to 12 months without charging premiums. Die Mobiliar/La Mobilière lets you put your car insurance policies on hold for up to 9 months without paying premiums (although you may pay an administrative fee). Generali lets you put your insurance coverage on hold for 6 months, but you still pay 50% of semi-comprehensive insurance premiums. Smile Direct discounts semi-comprehensive premiums by 50% and fully-comprehensive premiums by 90% while your policies are on hold.
9. Drive carefully
Like most insurers, Swiss car insurance companies generally discount premiums when you remain accident free for a certain length of time. Typically, this benefit only applies to periods for which you remain claim-free at the same insurer, and just proving that you have driven accident-free with other insurers when you take out your policy won’t normally score you discounts.
Zurich discounts premiums by 10% for policyholders who go for 3 years without filing claims. Most other insurers, including Smile Direct, Allianz and Helvetia, use a bonus-malus system which raises or lowers your premiums depending on how often you make claims.
Getting affordable car insurance in Switzerland is possible if you are willing to do some research and make lifestyle adjustments. In addition to the possible savings listed above, some insurers offer multiple policy discounts, multiple car discounts and other discounts which may benefit certain types of customers. Considering the high cost of owning and driving cars in Switzerland, taking advantage of all possible savings is highly recommended.