Car insurance

Bonus levels


A key component of car insurance is the premium, which is calculated on the basis of the vehicle and particular driver risk criteria (e.g. is your car kept in the garage overnight? Is it leased?). This premium is quite high and virtually no one needs to pay this much, because personal criteria are also taken into account (e.g. how old are you? How long have you been driving? Have you caused any damage in the last few years?). The insurance companies use your personal criteria to set your bonus level, which could be 65 per cent, for example. In other words, you only have to pay 65 per cent of the premium that was originally calculated.

The bonus level is calculated separately for liability and full casco (comprehensive) insurance and does not have to be the same for each – and it certainly varies from one insurance company to another. For some, the lowest level is around 30 per cent; for others, it's around 45 per cent. For example, Allianz Suisse has a different bonus level to AXA, AXA a different one to Mobiliar, and Mobiliar a different one to Vaudoise… and so on. It is therefore advisable to always look at the actual premium that you will be expected to pay. If you are not yet at the lowest level of the bonus system, the level will drop by a few percentage points each year, i.e. you pay a little less each year until you reach the lowest level and the premium stays the same. The advantage is that once you have reached the lowest level, if you make a claim, the premium becomes only slightly more expensive, as the lower levels are generally much closer together than the higher ones.

Good to know:

You do not lose your bonus level if you switch insurance providers. Each insurance company calculates the level itself, irrespective of the level you are currently on.

 

Example of the additional costs incurred following an increase in bonus level: new driver vs. experienced driver

Andrew has just obtained his driving licence and takes out an insurance policy covering liability and full casco. He is assigned to level B8 and pays 80 per cent of the premium. He pays 1,920 hard-earned francs per year.

Andrew accidentally drives into the back of a car, causing damage to both vehicles. His insurance covers the damage in both cases. However, Andrew has a deductible of 1,000 francs for both liability and full casco insurance, because he is a new driver. A deductible of 1,000 francs was also agreed for the collision casco. In addition, he will move up from B8 to B12 for liability and collision casco insurance, which means a new level of 120 per cent with this insurance company.

So although Andrew does not have to pay for the damage himself, there are some costs he will still have to pay. These are:

Liability deductible CHF 1,000
Collision casco deductible CHF 2,000
Premium increase following increase in bonus level from B8 to B12, i.e. from 80 per cent to 120 per cent * CHF 2,400
Total CHF 5,400

Victoria has been driving longer than Andrew. She's had her driving licence for 20 years and has reached the lowest bonus level of B0, i.e. 30 per cent. She pays 720 francs per year.

Victoria also accidentally drives into the back of a car, causing damage to both vehicles. Because of her driving experience, a deductible is no longer applied to her liability insurance, and she agreed a deductible of 1,000 francs with the insurer for her collision casco.

Victoria also has the damage paid for and is moved up from level B0 to B4, i.e. to 45 per cent. Even though she has been penalized by the same number of levels, she doesn't have to pay as much as Andrew:

Liability deductible CHF 1,000
Premium increase following increase in bonus level from B0 to B4, i.e. from 30 per cent to 45 per cent * CHF 912
Total CHF 1,912

* The premium increase applies to the next 4 years, until level B8 (80 per cent) or, in the case of Victoria, level B0 (30 per cent) is reached. Andrew pays 120 per cent in the first year, 110 per cent in the next, 100 per cent in the third and 90 per cent in the fourth. In the fifth year, he is back down to 80 per cent, where he originally started. The same goes for Victoria: she pays 45 per cent in the first year, 41 per cent in the second year, 38 per cent in the third and 34 in the fourth. She is then back at level B0, which is 30 per cent.

Good to know:

Bonus protection can prevent the premium from going up. This could have saved Andrew 2,400 francs and Victoria 912 francs in additional costs. To find out more about bonus protection and the loopholes for avoiding the premium increase without buying a bonus protection supplement, click here.