Choice of Lawyer in Swiss Legal Insurance Explained

January 19, 2023 - Raphael Knecht

Why should you insist on being able to choose your own lawyer and which limitations apply? Find out in this guide.

When you use Swiss legal insurance, you should have the right to choose which lawyer will represent you in a case. That is clearly stated in the Insurance Supervision Ordinance. Read on to find out why being able to choose your own lawyer is so important, and what limitations apply in practice.

There are three main reasons why free choice of law firm is important:

1. Better representation

There is always potential for a conflict of interests when the insurance company appoints a lawyer to manage your case. That is because the lawyer will likely consider the interest of their employer (the insurance company) in addition to yours.

That can make a big difference. Your legal insurance provider has a direct interest in keeping the costs as low as possible. That could encourage your lawyer to accept an outcome which less than ideal in order to wind up the case quickly or otherwise minimize costs. You, on the other hand, will want to get the most favorable ruling possible. Reaching that goal is generally more expensive than settling for a compromise.

2. More trust

Mutual trust is an important prerequisite for a successful legal partnership. There is no way to know whether or not you will feel completely comfortable with a lawyer who is simply appointed to you.

Having one lawyer whom you trust with all your legal matters or whom you already know well will generally make you feel better represented than if you have to build a new relationship from scratch during a case. You also can only take advantage of law firm recommendations from friends and family if you are able to choose your own legal representative.

3. A better match

When you choose your own lawyer, you have the ability to pick the one who is best-equipped to handle your specific case. You can choose a lawyer based on either their education or actual legal experience, or both. For example, a lawyer who has primarily handled real estate cases for many years will probably be able to handle a dispute between you and your landlord better than a lawyer whose experience is mostly in traffic law.

Can the insurance company reject my choice of lawyer?

Because the Insurance Supervision Ordinance stipulates free choice of lawyer in Swiss legal insurance, you have the right to choose a legal representative needed for your case. But your legal insurance provider has some wiggle room: They can reject your first choice of lawyer. You then have the right to propose three other candidates, and the insurance company has to accept one of those.

Legal insurance companies who want to take advantage of this exception must include a corresponding clause in the terms and conditions of insurance agreements. If they do not, then you can rightly assume that there are no limitations on your choice of lawyer. But offers from Swiss insurance providers, which you can find and compare with the Swiss legal insurance comparison, include these clauses. You can find details about the choice of lawyer on individual product information pages of offers included in the comparison.

Do insurers need to justify rejections?

The right to choose your own lawyer primarily serves to help prevent conflicts of interest. But the insurance company is not required to explain why they reject your initial proposal. That means insurance companies can reject a first choice of lawyer for any reason – including high lawyer fees.

In response to inquiries by, legal insurance providers said that the main reason why a choice of lawyer would be rejected is if they feel the chosen lawyer is not suited to the specific case. This makes sense because many insurance policy holders have not yet used lawyers, and need help to choose a suitable law firm. But in practice, rejections are very uncommon.  

How do lawyer fees affect my choice of lawyer?

The fees charged by a lawyer should not be a major factor in determining whether the insurance company will accept your choice. The reason for this is that legal insurance agreements generally contain a clause which lets the insurance company limit coverage. A fee of 250 francs per hour is average in Switzerland, and will normally be accepted. The insurance company may grant higher coverage for more complex cases. So while you can propose the three most expensive lawyers in your judicial district and the insurance company has to accept one of them, you may end up having to cover part of the fees yourself.

Most service providers do not include clear limits defining the maximum covered lawyer fees in their terms and conditions. When asked about this by, they explained that each case is judged individually. This means you have to take the step of finding out how much your insurance will cover ahead of choosing a lawyer for your case.


Are there geographical limitations for choosing a lawyer?

Geography is another limitation on your free choice of lawyers. Many policies include clauses which state that the law firm must be domiciled in the judicial district in which the court case is taking place. Depending on the legal insurance offer you use, if you choose a lawyer from outside the judicial district, you may have to cover their fees yourself.

More on this topic:
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Editor Raphael Knecht
Raphael Knecht was an analyst and a specialized editor at until the end of February 2023. Since then, he is supporting the editorial team as a freelancer.
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