legal insurance exclusions

What Does Legal Insurance Not Cover?

January 19, 2023 - Raphael Knecht

Which disputes does legal insurance not cover? Find out which exclusions to look out for when getting legal insurance in this guide.

Whether you have personal legal insurance or the motorist variant, if you are paying for an insurance, you generally expect that it will cover you if you ever need it. But a look at the fine print of insurance offers reveals that the list of exclusions is usually as long as the one listing covered hazards. Here, explains which legal hazards are normally not covered by Swiss legal insurance.

  • Amount in dispute

Legal insurance will not cover costs if the amount in dispute is lower than the minimum value specified in your insurance agreement. However, you can normally still get legal consultation from the insurance company. Legal insurance generally also has a ceiling on coverage and if the amount in dispute exceeds this, the insurance will only cover part of legal costs in proportion to the covered amount in dispute. You have to cover the rest yourself. In a few cases, the insurance may not pay anything at all when the total amount in dispute exceeds a certain limit.  

  • Fines

Fines and penalties are not covered by legal insurance. The same holds true for damages which you have to pay due to committing an offense. Legal insurance will normally advance the bail required to prevent detainment ahead of your trial. You have to repay this advance at a later date. Legal action taken to reduce fines, on the other hand, is often covered by legal insurance.

  • Deliberate offenses

Deliberate offenses – including speeding – are not covered by legal insurance. Many insurance agreements specifically outline the speeds above which speeding offenses are not covered. An exception applies if you are acquitted. Some legal insurance offers will cover the first hour of legal consultation even for deliberate offenses, but require repayment if you are found guilty.

  • Alcohol

Motor legal insurance comes with long lists of additional exclusions related to deliberate offenses. These include driving under the influence of alcohol and many other substances. Driving without a valid driver’s license, valid license plates, or mandatory insurance is also excluded, as is taking part in unauthorized motorsport activities.

  • Medical examinations

The cost of medical analyses and tests connected with determining substance use is not normally covered. This also applies to blood tests requested by the court, for example. Examinations required to determine your driving capacity are also often explicitly excluded.

  • Brawls

Legal expenses resulting from active participation in brawls and physical assaults are generally not insured. This exclusion can even extend to libel in some cases.

  • Investments

Disputes linked to the investment of assets are not normally covered by legal insurance. For example, if you believe that your asset manager invested your money poorly or gave you bad advice, you will not be able to count on your insurance to cover a lawsuit against them. Legal action linked to speculation or betting is normally also specifically excluded.

  • Property purchases

Many insurance offers exclude legal issues surrounding the buying and selling of real estate. Some insurers offer optional real estate riders for personal legal insurance.

  • Self-employment

Personal legal insurance generally does not cover cases related to self-employment. Some insurers make an exception for self-employment if the income it generates falls below certain limits. For example, Justis (CAP) does covers cases resulting from self-employed activities from which you earn less than 10,000 Swiss francs per year.

  • Executives

Many policies exclude legal expenses resulting from issues linked to your role as a board member or executive of a company.

  • Disputes with the insurance company

The costs of legal disputes with the company that provides your legal insurance are always excluded. This also applies to disputes with individual employees, and to third parties working on behalf of the insurance company (such as lawyers commissioned to work on your case).

  • Family members

Many legal insurance offers specifically exclude legal fights with members of your own family and people who are covered by your insurance policy. Some insurers will cover the main policyholder in these cases, but not other people insured by the policy. That means you may be covered if you are the one who signed the agreement. If you are covered by a family policy but are not the main policyholder, you may not be covered even if your insurance covers family disputes. For example, if a couple which shares a family legal insurance policy were to divorce, the insurance would normally only cover the legal expenses for the spouse which signed the insurance agreement.

  • Strikes, war, terror

If you get mixed up in a court case connected to strikes, war, or terrorism, do not count on your legal insurance to cover expenses. Many insurance agreements also exclude cases linked to ionized radiation, nuclear fission, and natural disasters.

  • International courts

Expenses resulting from the use of international courts are excluded, regardless of whether or not your insurance’s geographical coverage. In the unlikely case of your having to appear before an international criminal court, for example, the insurance will not pay for it. The same applies to supranational courts like the Court of Justice of the European Union.

  • Pre-existing circumstances

An already burning house is impossible to insure. The same holds true for legal issues: Legal disputes resulting from events which take place before you get legal insurance are not covered. That applies, for example, with legal issues surrounding health conditions caused by accidents which occurred before you took out your legal insurance.

  • Hopeless cases

Even if your case is specifically covered by your insurance, the insurance company can choose not to cover it if it deems that you have no chance of winning. However, you have the option of enlisting an arbitrator to determine whether the insurance company’s decision is justified. If the arbitrator decides in your favor, the insurance company has to cover the case. Important: If the arbitrator decides in favor of the insurance company, you will normally have to cover the costs of arbitration yourself. If you fight through a case which the insurance company deemed hopeless at your own expense and you actually win, the expenses will be covered by the insurance.


More on this topic:
Compare Swiss legal insurance offers now
Personal legal insurance explained
Motor legal insurance explained


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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