The freedom to get into your car and drive yourself anywhere you want to go is arguably the very essence of the modern age. But all the fun comes with certain risks. A full 10,221 residents of Switzerland were involved in car accidents in 2016, while a further 3159 motorcyclists, 4048 cyclists and 2344 pedestrians experienced accidents the same year. Liability for traffic accidents is often difficult to ascertain.
But accidents are only one of the hazards facing motorists. Hidden terms and conditions in some car purchase and car leasing agreements can prove hazardous to your wallet. Excessive fines or unjust confiscations of your drivers license can have serious financial implications.
Motorist legal insurance is meant to protect you from these hazards. But how far does it go in covering the myriad of legal issues which could potentially accompany the use of motorized vehicles?
What costs are covered by motorist legal insurance?
Motorist legal insurance covers the cost of mediation, lawyer’s fees, court fees, reimbursement of your counterparty’s legal expenses (when you lose), and fees charged by assessors and other specialists in relation to your legal case. Coverage generally applies to all vehicles owned by the policyholder and to the policyholder when they drive a vehicle belonging to another person.
You can easily find, filter, sort and compare Swiss motorist legal insurance policies using the moneyland.ch legal protection insurance comparison.
What hazards are covered by motorist legal insurance?
1. Leasing agreement disputes. Leasing cars comes with a range of possible pitfalls which can burn a hole into your savings or worse yet, put you in debt. Motorist legal insurance covers legal expenses when you dispute claims made by your lease provider.
2. Car purchase disputes. Buying a car is a major investment, and when dealing with large amounts of money, the potential for loss is high. Dealers may try to lock you into unfavorable purchase agreements. You may discover damages or flaws on your new car which you were not made aware of by the dealer. Motorist legal insurance covers the cost of the dispute.
3. Traffic accident disputes. Car accidents are rarely straightforward. Your car liability insurance covers the cost of damages to third parties and their property, but only if it is proven that the accident was your fault. Your collision insurance covers damages to your car, but only if it is proven that the other driver is not at fault. Passenger insurance covers healthcare expenses for passengers which are not insured by compulsory accident insurance, but only if the fault does not lie with another driver. Motorist legal insurance covers legal expenses involved in determining who is at fault and in demanding the compensation owed to you or reimbursing your counterparty’s legal expenses when you are found to be at fault.
4. Insurance disputes. Sometimes insurance providers pay out claims without question. But often enough, getting insurers to pay benefits is like pulling teeth. Motorist legal insurance covers the costs of settling legal disputes between you and your car insurance providers.
5. Traffic violations. If you drive regularly, it is only a matter of time before you get flashed by a speed trap or fined for parking in the wrong spot. Sometimes the fines or penalties are justified, sometimes they are not. Motorist legal insurance can cover the cost of getting legal consultation or opening a court case to determine whether or not you were indeed at fault and whether the fine or penalty is justifiable.
6. Car service disputes. Car repairs normally aren’t a flat rate affair, and mechanics have a lot of play when it comes to calculating your bills. This can lead to awkward moments during which you are left staring at car service bills in disbelief. Then there is the possible hazard of mechanics unwittingly damaging other parts of your car while making repairs. Motorist legal insurance covers the costs of mediation or legal action with regards to settling disputes.
What supplementary coverage can you get?
In addition to the basic coverages listed above, some motorist legal insurance policies may also cover other legal expenses, such as those generated by disputes related to car sharing and ride sharing (unacceptable cancellations, for example) and travel contracts (hotel or rental car bookings, for example).
Other coverages which may be included are cover for the cost of collection of compensation owed to you and cover for legal expenses related to healthcare costs in the event of injuries. Some policies also cover the cost of victim support services.
In addition to accidents involving a car, some policies also cover traffic incidents which occur when you are walking, cycling, or using public transportation. Some cover incidents which occur when you are driving a boat or an airplane.
The geographical coverage of policies is also worth taking a look at. Typically, motorist legal insurance covers legal costs incurred in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Many policies extend coverage to a number of countries in Europe. A handful of policies provide global coverage.
The legal insurance comparison lets you sort policies based on their geographic coverage. Just select “Coverage Switzerland”, “Coverage Europe” or “Coverage World” in the “Sort by” dropdown menu. Each policy’s geographic coverage is clearly stated on its information page (click on the “Info” link).
What is not covered by motorist legal insurance?
1. Traffic fines. Motorist legal insurance does not cover the cost of traffic fines. Although it does cover the costs of legal action taken to reduce fines, you will have to cover any remaining traffic fines out of your own pocket.
2. Deliberate traffic crimes. When you drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or deliberately engage in hazardous driving, resulting legal expenses normally will not be covered by motorist legal insurance.
3. Hopeless cases. If the insurance company deems a case impossible to win, the company may opt to compensate you with a one-time benefit rather than cover the cost of legal action.
4. Legal expenses which are not related to traffic or cars. Motorist legal insurance is a specialized legal insurance which only covers legal costs related to traffic and cars – with some policies extending coverage to other forms of transportation. Personal legal insurance, on the other hand, provides more general coverage for legal hazards which you are likely to come against when you aren’t driving.
It is important to note that insurers have the right to terminate you policy every time they settle a claim. Because of this, it is generally advisable to cover low-cost legal proceedings out of your own pocket and save your motorist legal insurance for major claims.
What does legal insurance cost?
Premiums vary considerably between insurance providers and policies, with the cheapest policies costing less than 100 Swiss francs per year and the most expensive policies costing close to 300 francs per year. The basic coverage provided, on the other hand, is similar across all policies. Comparing the costs and benefits of insurance policies before you sign up is important. You can compare policies using the moneyland.ch legal insurance comparison.
If you have a family, getting a policy which covers your whole household generally works out cheaper than getting individual insurance for each family member. Some insurance providers offer multiple-policy discounts (when you get combined motorist legal insurance and personal legal insurance, for example).
Because driving exposes you to numerous legal risks, the right motorist legal insurance is a useful addition to compulsory car liability insurance.