terminate insurance switzerland

How to Terminate an Insurance in Switzerland

January 31, 2024 - Raphael Knecht

What is standard termination? How long are notice periods? Which documents do I need? Here, moneyland.ch answers the most important questions about terminating insurance policies.

In this guide, online comparison service moneyland.ch explains the most important things to know in order to terminate an insurance. Get an overview of all the aspects to consider when terminating different kinds of insurance in this article.

What is standard termination?

A standard termination is when you or your insurance provider choose to terminate your insurance after your contract’s pre-agreed insurance term, in keeping with the specified notice period. You do not have to name any special reason for ending your insurance in a standard termination.

How do contract terms affect termination?

The term stated in the contract shows how long the insurance is valid for. During the contract’s term, you pay premiums and receive insurance cover in exchange. The typical length of the term is different for different kinds of insurance.

Many offers have a minimum contract term, and you cannot terminate them before that term has expired. With the exception of life insurance, you always have the right to terminate an insurance once you have had it for three full years – even if the term in the contract is longer.

With the majority of newer insurance offers, the insurance does not end on its own once the term has finished. Instead, the contract is automatically extended. If you do not want to keep the insurance, you have to give notice on time before the contract’s term ends.

Insurance companies are required to clarify the length of the insurance term as well as the minimum contract term which defines how long you have to keep the insurance before you can terminate it.

What is a notice period?

The notice period defines how long before the end of the insurance term you have to give notice in order for the insurance to be terminated. Notice periods vary between contracts and insurance types. The one rule which generally applies to all Swiss insurance offers is that the same notice period applies to standard terminations regardless of whether you or the insurance company chooses to end the contract. You can find an overview of the typical notice periods by insurance type at the foot of this article.

What is an insurance term?

The insurance term is the period of time for which insurance premiums are calculated. When this is unclear, a one-year insurance term applies. With insurance that have annual premiums, you normally have to pay the premium before the insurance year starts.

In some cases, you may have to pay the insurance premium for the coming insurance year even though you have given notice of termination to end your insurance. That is the case, for example, when you terminate your insurance irregularly during the first year after making a claim.

Unlike the contract term, the insurance term is not automatically extended. However, when the contract term is extended, a new insurance term begins. Example: Over a one-year contract term, you pay an insurance premium which is predefined at the beginning of the insurance year. When that year has transpired, the insurance term ends. If you extend the contract term, the insurance company calculates a new premium for the new year (the new insurance term).

What is an irregular termination?

As the term implies, irregular terminations are those which are not done in keeping with the standard protocol for terminating an insurance. That means irregular terminations do not always happen at the end of the contract term, and the standard notice period does not necessarily apply.

An insurance can only be terminated irregularly under certain, specific conditions. These conditions may include the following:

  • You or the insurance company neglected your obligation to inform. Before selling you insurance, the insurance company is required to provide you with key information – including the type of insurance, the deadlines for submitting claims, and the exact term over which the insurance protection applies. They normally do this by providing you with the general insurance conditions (GIC) or additional documents which you have to sign. But if the insurance company does not provide the required information, you can give notice of termination within four weeks of discovering the failure. The termination applies as soon as the insurance provider receives it.
  • Changes in circumstances make the insurance redundant. For example, if you leave Switzerland, you can terminate insurances which only cover residents, without having to wait until the contract term expires.
  • A covered loss occurs. When you file a claim, both you and the insurance company have the right to terminate the contract. Supplemental health insurance is an exception to this rule: Only you are can choose to terminate the contract irregularly after you file a claim, but not the insurance company. If you file a claim within the first year of taking out insurance, the insurance company can keep charging premiums until the end of that insurance year.
  • The insured object changes hands. If the property insured by the contract is transferred to a new owner, the insurance can be terminated within 14 days. For example, a change of hands may occur when you buy a piece of real estate which is already covered by buildings insurance. When you buy the building, the insurance, with all its rights and responsibilities, is also transferred to you. You have the right to reject the insurance within 30 days.
  • The covered risk becomes much lower. That means the hazard which you want to protect yourself against is far less likely to happen than it was when you took out the insurance. For example, if your home is insured against avalanches, the covered risk may be greatly reduced when authorities build structural avalanche defenses in the area. When the covered risk is greatly reduced, you have the option of either terminating your insurance or requesting a premium reduction. In case of the latter, the insurance company can choose to accept the reduced premium you request, or to make an alternative offer.
  • Unforeseeable legal changes make the insurance contract redundant. In this case too, you can terminate the contract irregularly.

How do I give notice to terminate an insurance?

The details of how you must go about giving notice are normally defined in the contract. The standard way is to send a written notice to the insurance company by registered mail. Many service providers also accept scanned letters, and notices submitted by email. If you give notice electronically, it is important that you ask the insurance provider to confirm that they have received your letter (by email, for example). That way you can prove the date on which the notice arrived at the insurer. Insurance law no longer specifies that you have to give notice in writing, but insurance companies can require this if they choose to.

If you are not sure which kinds of notice your insurer accepts, you can normally find this information on their website or in the online customer portal (if they have one). Of course, you can also simply contact the customer service and ask. This information is also normally found in the GIC.

Important: The notice generally only applies from the time that the insurance company actually receives your notice. That means if you send it by mail, the insurer has to receive the letter before the deadline. Just sending the letter before the deadline is not enough. That can lead to problems if you send your notice in keeping with the notice period, but the insurance company only receives it after the deadline transpires. So you should make sure to account for the time it takes for the letter to be delivered, and bear in mind that insurance companies normally only process mail on workdays. If you only remember to give notice shortly before the deadline, using express delivery can make sense. You can also deliver your notice to one of your insurance provider’s branch offices in person.  

The notice period calculator on moneyland.ch makes it easy to find out when you have to send off your notice for it to arrive at the insurance company on time.

Which documents do I need to submit?

In many cases, a simply letter is all that is required. This letter of notice should include your personal information, the policy number, and the date from which the insurance should be terminated. If you give notice by mail, you should sign the letter by hand.

Sometimes additional documents are required. With security deposit insurance, for example, you must send your insurer the insurance certificate after getting it back from your landlord. If you are required to submit any documents along with your notice, this will be stated in the GIC.

Can I cancel an insurance contract?

You have 14 days to cancel new Swiss insurance agreements after signing or applying for them. This right to withdraw does not apply to insurance contracts with term of less than one month.  

Cancelling an agreement is not the same thing as terminating. When you exercise your right to withdraw within the cancellation period, the insurance contract is legally voided. Neither you nor the insurance company have to return any benefits received.

Overview: Insurance types

Here you can find information about terminating specific kinds of insurance:

  • Terminating mandatory health insurance

Because you have to have basic health insurance as long as you reside in Switzerland, you can only terminate a mandatory health insurance agreement if you have already applied and been accepted for a different offer. You can give notice on your current insurance before you get a new one. But until your new insurer informs your current insurance provider that they have accepted your application, the transfer cannot take place.

You can terminate a compulsory health insurance at the end of each calendar year. Because the notice period is one month, the last day of November is the deadline for getting your notice to the insurer. You can find useful tips for terminating mandatory Swiss health insurance here.

If your health insurance uses the standard model and the lowest possible deductible, you can also terminate it at the end of July, if you give notice at least three months before. You can find out how to terminate your health insurance mid-year here.

  • Terminating supplemental health insurance

With supplemental health insurance, only you have the right to terminate the contract. The insurance company cannot terminate your insurance. That also applies to irregular termination after filing a claim.

You can terminate supplemental health insurance at the end of each calendar year. You normally have to give notice at least three months before the end of the year. You can find useful information about terminating supplementary health insurance agreements here.

  • Terminating life insurance

Life insurance contracts are not subject to standard insurance termination rights. That means neither you nor your insurance provider have the right to terminate the insurance after three insurance years – as is the case with other kinds of insurance.

Instead, you can terminate a life insurance early after just one insurance year, no matter how long the pre-agreed insurance term is. In the case of permanent life insurance, the cash value you get back if you terminate your insurance ahead of schedule may be very little – or even none at all.

  • Terminating car insurance

The notice period for car insurance is usually three months, but some insurers only require one month notice. A one-year minimum contract term normally applies.

When you buy a used car which is already insured, and you take out new third-party liability, collision, comprehensive, or accident insurance, the car’s existing insurance will generally be discontinued automatically. If that does not happen, the following rules normally apply: You can reject the existing insurance with its rights and responsibilities within 30 days. The insurance company, for its part, can terminate the contract within 14 days of the car changing owners. Some insurers let you transfer certain insurance coverages, but not others. For example, you may be able to keep the existing third-party liability coverage, but not the collision insurance.

  • Terminating security deposit insurance

When you take out security deposit insurance, your landlord receives an insurance certificate. If you want to terminate the insurance, you or your landlord must return this certificate to the insurance company. You are normally also required to attach an agreement of termination signed by both you and your landlord. Because you have to return the original certificate, it normally only makes sense to give notice by mail.

Most security deposit insurance offers can be terminated without notice at the end of the minimum contract term. Depending on the offer, the minimum term is anywhere from zero months to three years. A few offers do have a notice period of three months. If your rental deposit insurance has a notice period, make sure to give notice on time. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to continue paying premiums even after you move out of the rented home.

  • Terminating pet insurance

Pet insurance can normally be terminated with a notice period of three months before the insurance term ends. The term is normally one year.

When you acquire a pet which is already insured, the insurance changes hands with it. The insurance company can terminate the insurance within 14 days of it changing hands, and you inform the insurer that you do not want to take over the contractual rights and obligations.

If you pass on an insured animal to a new keeper, you normally have to inform the insurance company in writing.

  • Terminating legal insurance

The minimum contract terms of legal insurance offers vary broadly, from as short as one month to as long as five years. One-year terms are the most common. The notice period is usually either one month or three months.

  • Terminating travel insurance

The notice period for annual travel insurance offers is normally three months, though one-month notice periods also exist. You can terminate your insurance at the end of each year, and the minimum contract term is normally also one year.

When you get single-trip travel insurance which only covers one journey or holiday, you normally cannot terminate it after taking it out because the insurance terms are so short. Even if an early termination is theoretically allowed in the GICs, the insurance company can continue to charge premiums until the end of the term, and is not required to reimburse you for premiums you have already paid.

One-time insurances with a term shorter than one month also do not benefit from the legal rights to withdraw which apply to longer-term contracts. But insurance companies can choose to give you the option of cancelling the contract within a certain grace period. If this is the case, it will be stated in the GICs.

  • Terminating guest health insurance

Because guest health insurance generally has short terms (usually a maximum length of six months), there is rarely any reason to terminate them ahead of schedule. The GICs of Swiss offers also do not provide any options for standard terminations. Instead, the contract expires automatically at the end of the agreed-on insurance term.

If you choose to terminate the insurance after filing a claim, the insurance company can continue charging you premiums up until the end of the fixed insurance term. You also have to make sure that you or your guests maintain the basic, mandatory health insurance coverage throughout the visit to Switzerland.

More on this topic:
How to terminate your mandatory Swiss health insurance
How to terminate supplementary health insurance
Notice period calculator
How to terminate a bank account
How to terminate a mobile plan

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