household insurance switzerland covered hazards
Insurance

What Does Swiss Household Insurance Actually Cover?

September 6, 2022 - Daniel Dreier

Do you know what your Swiss household insurance actually does? Find out what is and is not covered in this guide.

Household insurance is very popular in Switzerland. But many people do not understand what it actually covers. Here, moneyland.ch explains which hazards are always covered by Swiss household insurance, which ones can be insured depending on the offer, and which are never insured.

1. Hazards which are always covered by Swiss household insurance

  • Fire and related hazards

Damage to personal property caused by fire, explosions, lightning and smoke is always covered up to the policy’s sum insured. Scorching damage is also covered, but is capped at a special, lower sum insured.

  • Leaks and plumbing back-ups

Damages to your personal property caused by leaks (plumbing, heating systems, rain, melting snow and ice) are covered. Damage caused by blocked plumbing is also covered, if the cause of the blockage is on your property (otherwise a utilities provider or other entity is normally liable to pay for damages).

  • Natural hazards

Damages to your personal property resulting from windstorms, hail, avalanches, landslides, crushing caused by the weight of snow, rock slides and floods are covered. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not included in standard natural hazards coverage.

  • Theft

Burglary (theft with break-in), robbery (theft with the threat of violence) and simple theft (theft without break-in or the threat of violence) are covered by all household insurance policies. But there are limitations on coverage for money and valuables. Cash is only covered up to separate, low limits, and is not covered at all in the case of simple theft. For jewelry and other valuables, full coverage only applies when these are either worn or stored in an eligible safe. Otherwise, a special, lower sum insured applies.

  • Personal property away from home

Your personal property is also insured against fire, flooding, theft, and other hazards when it is not in your home. The exception to this rule is simple theft. Simple theft of personal property outside of your home is not covered by standard insurance, but can be covered with an optional insurance rider.

Most insurers limit coverage for damages which occur outside your home, and/or limits on how long things can remain outside your home and still be insured. Many offers specifically exclude incidents which occur in your workplace, in premises rented by you in a different property (rented hobby rooms or storage facilities, for example), and/or in caravans and other movable structures. Make sure to use a household insurance offer which covers the locations that are important to you. Personal property kept in secondary residences (holiday homes, for example) needs to be insured separately.

  • Incidental costs resulting from covered hazards

Household insurance covers additional living expenses (above your standard living expenses) such as rent or hotel bills for a temporary residence while your home is being repaired after a covered hazard. Emergency door and window replacement is also covered, as is the cost of decontamination (when damage to your personal property results in pollution). Most offers have caps on coverage for incidental costs (5, 10, or 20 percent of the policy’s sum insured, for example).

  • Guest property

Personal property belonging to guests staying with you is generally covered by your household insurance. Many offers limit the sum insured for your guests’ belongings, with caps varying broadly between offers. Others cover guest property up to your policy’s standard sum insured.

2. Hazards which can be covered by getting specific offers or adding optional riders:

  • Simple theft away from home

You generally have the option of adding coverage for simple theft away from home to your household insurance. This covers theft outside of your home which does not qualify as burglary or robbery (pickpocketing or simple theft of electronic devices or jewelry, for example). Cash is generally excluded, as are cash equivalents like payment cards, vouchers, and precious metals. Some offers also exclude other things, such as bicycles. Checking exactly what is covered is important.

  • Accidental damages

Some insurance providers let you add an “all risk” rider which covers accidental damages, including those inflicted by you. A few expensive offers include this by default. Coverage is limited to specific kinds of stuff (electronics, for example).

  • Losing or misplacing stuff

Accidentally losing your personal property is also covered by all risk riders (see “accidental damages” above).

  • Electrical damages

Some policies cover damages to electrical and electronic devices caused by power surges and power overloads by default. Others let you add this coverage with an optional “electronics casco” rider or using the all risk rider (see “accidental damages” above).

  • Vandalism

Most Swiss household insurance offers only cover vandalism if it is accompanied by a burglary. A handful of insurance providers cover vandalism of your personal property without a break-in, or include this in their optional all risk riders (see “accidental damages” above).

  • Broken glass

There are household insurance policies which include coverage for glass items (glass furniture or decor, for example) by default. But with most, you can choose whether to include or exclude this coverage.

  • Lost keys

The costs of replacing locks and keys of rented housing is generally covered by personal liability insurance. However, some household insurance offers include coverage for locksmith services for your personal property, or let you add this using optional riders. Coverage typically has a separate limit which is much lower than your policy’s sum insured.

  • Earthquakes

Some policies let you add coverage for damages to your personal property caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

  • Damage prevention

A few insurers include coverage for emergency repairs to electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems in their basic household insurance, while others let you add this using an optional home assistance rider. Some offers or optional riders also cover the cost of pest and vermin removal to prevent damage to property.

  • Additional incidental costs resulting from covered hazards

Incidental costs which are covered by some, but not all household insurance offers include security services, fire department and police charges, loss of rental or subletting income, emergency childcare and pet care, psychiatric care, and self-defense courses (after robbery). Coverage for incidental costs is limited and each policy has different limits, so comparing is important.

  • Travel hazards

Travel insurance does not come standard with any Swiss household insurance policies, but some let you add certain travel insurances using optional riders. Depending on the policy, travel insurance riders may include rental car collision damage waivers, trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, luggage insurance, and/or medical emergency insurance.

  • Legal expenses

A few Swiss household insurance offers include specific legal insurance coverages or services. Some others let you add an optional rider with certain legal insurance coverages. Coverage which may be included are cyber legal insurance, and legal insurance covering contract, consumer rights, and/or medical patient law. Some offers include complimentary legal consultation (over the phone, for example).

  • Cyber hazards

Some policies include cyber insurance, or let you add this as an optional rider. In addition to the cyber legal insurance mentioned under personal legal insurance, this insurance may cover: data recovery; fraudulent transactions resulting from online theft of credit card data; removal of malware; online slander recovery measures; and identity theft recovery. It may also provide purchase protection for online purchases.

  • Damage to caravans and mobile homes

A few Swiss household insurance offers let you cover unregistered caravans and mobile homes by adding an insurance rider.

  • Fraudulent credit card or SIM use

A handful of household insurance policies cover losses resulting from fraudulent credit card transactions and/or fraudulent mobile SIM card use. Some only cover losses when the physical card has been stolen and used fraudulently. Others also cover fraudulent transactions when only the card information has been stolen.

  • Gross negligence

Damages which result from gross negligence are not covered by basic household insurance. However, some offers either include gross negligence waivers, or let you add them if you choose to. When you have a gross negligence waiver, the insurance covers damages even if they result from a lack of due diligence on your part.

3. Hazards which are not covered by Swiss household insurance:

  • Intentional damages

Household insurance only covers damages to your property which are caused by external hazards that are beyond your control. If your insurance includes all risk coverage, then certain accidental damages are also covered. But if you deliberately damage your own things, the losses will not be covered.

  • Damage to other people’s property

Household insurance only covers your own personal property. It does not cover damage to somebody else’s property by you. If you want to insure your personal liability for injuries to third parties or damages to other people’s property, this can be done using personal liability insurance.

  • Damage to your property by other people

With the exception of theft and in some cases vandalism, damages which other people inflict on your personal property are not covered. The same applies to damages for which a third-party (a utilities provider, for example) is legally liable. In this case, liability to cover damages falls on the responsible party.

More on this topic:
Household insurance explained
Valuables insurance explained
Buildings insurance explained
How to insure your e-bike or bicycle in Switzerland

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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at moneyland.ch.
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