Shared homes are a relatively new phenomenon. Flatmates normally aren’t related to each other and temporarily share a more or less friendly communal lifestyle.
Shared homes (popularly known in as WGs in Swiss German) are common in Switzerland. This housing arrangement is especially popular among students and young adults. Shared housing is often the only affordable option for students in cities where rents are high.
Living in a communal setup can be a lot of fun, but life in a shared home has its ticks. These usually come into play when unexpected incidents occur.
For example, when something is damaged or broken. Who is responsible to repair the broken kitchen stove. Who should replace the damaged living room sofa? Who will cover the water damage on the communal parquet floor?
Finding concrete answers to these questions will help you avoid unpleasant situations and take some of the issues out of living in a communal setup. Getting the right insurance coverage is a major part of the process.
Household and liability insurance are a must
In Switzerland, household and liability insurance are normally offered as a combined policy. Flat mates who own more than the proverbial clothes on their back will normally benefit from household insurance.
Household insurance covers possible damages to your home which are not directly inflicted by you. Damages caused by fire, burglary or water, for example, are generally covered.
Glass furniture must be insured separately by a glass breakage insurance policy. Damages to the building itself – including the walls, floor and windows – are normally covered by the property owner’s buildings insurance.
Damages caused by individual residents of the shared home can be covered by liability insurance. Depending on the case, the homeowner’s buildings insurance may also provide coverage.
Household insurance for shared homes is not universally available
Not all Swiss insurance companies that offer household and liability insurance provide coverage for communal housing. For example, Zurich, Allianz24 (the online arm of Allianz Suisse) and Axa Winterthur, do not provide household insurance for shared homes.
Other insurers, like Zurich or Mobiliar, for example, do offer household insurance for shared homes. However, if you want to add riders such as coverage for simple theft away from home, they will have to be added for all the shared home residents.
Some household insurance providers only require that you state the number of household members when applying for a policy. Other insurance companies, such as Smile Direct, require that you specify each person by name. If there is a possibility that residents will change over time, then having each resident take out their own insurance policy is recommended.
The moneyland.ch team