Insurance

Which car insurance do I need?

INFORMATION
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Source: iStock / Ridofranz

When taking out car insurance, consider which benefits are important to you: are there any legal regulations? What do full casco and partial casco policies cover? And what add-ons do I need? Comparis explains how to get the right insurance.

If you wish to register a car in Switzerland, you are legally required to take out vehicle liability insurance, while partial and full casco insurance are optional. However, for owners of newer cars it pays off to take out full casco insurance. For cars over four years of age, it may make sense to switch to partial casco insurance, depending on their value.

But which incidents do basic full and partial casco policies actually insure? And which add-ons can be combined with which basic cover? Comparis provides an overview.

Basic cover at a glance

Insurance Cover Recommendation
Motor vehicle liability insurance
Covers material and personal damage to third parties
Compulsory for all motor vehicles (except trailers)
Partial casco
Covers consequential damage
  • Theft
  • Natural disasters
  • Glass breakage
  • Fire
  • Collision with animals
  • Marten damage
  • Vandalism (except scratches)

Optional; recommended for vehicles up to and including the seventh year of operation; possibly longer for vehicles with an original value of more than 75,000 francs
Full casco
Damage to your own vehicle due to collision
Optional; recommended for vehicles up to and including the fourth year of operation; possibly longer for vehicles with an original value of over 75,000 francs

Add-ons at a glance

Add-on Cover Recommendation Required basic cover
Passenger accident insurance
Injury of a passenger
Car owners who often have passengers from abroad in their vehicle
Motor vehicle liability insurance
Damage while parked
Damage to the parked vehicle caused by unknown third parties
New vehicles up to and including the fourth year of operation
Often only possible in combination with full casco insurance
Extended glass breakage
Headlights, glass-like parts (e.g. indicators, tail lights)
For vehicles with xenon headlights; vehicles with many glass-like parts
In combination with partial casco
Mobility / roadside assistance
Breakdown service
Advisable, but check whether it is not covered by travel insurance or TCS membership
Usually in combination with partial casco (except Mobiliar)
Loss of use
Replacement car
Check whether your insurer’s partner garage does not offer a free replacement vehicle
For all basic cover
Gross negligence cover
Protection against recourse or reduction of benefits in the case of grossly negligent conduct
Recommended for all car drivers
For all basic cover
Replacement value supplement
Value retention
Recommended up to the seventh year of operation; not possible thereafter, depending on insurance provider; usually included as standard
At least partial casco
Bonus protection
Prevents premium increases
Recommended for insurers with a bonus level system
For all basic cover

 

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Compulsory car liability insurance

Motor vehicle liability insurance – also called car liability insurance – is the only compulsory basic cover. It covers damage to third parties caused by driving, such as damage to equipment, buildings or people, or to another vehicle involved in an accident. As a rule, the sum insured is 100 million francs per incident. The cover offered by compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance is defined by law and barely differs from one provider to another. Nevertheless, premiums can vary significantly.

When is it worth taking out partial casco insurance?

Optional partial casco insurance covers damage to your own vehicle that is not caused by you or a third party. The vehicle must not be in operation during the course of the damage, except in the case of wildlife-related accidents. Other partial casco incidents include fire, glass breakage, natural disasters (hail, rockfall, snow pressure, landslides, high water, floods, storms, snow slides), theft and the consequences of marten damage. Malicious damage by third parties (vandalism) is also considered a partial casco incident. There are some exclusions – such as scratches on the vehicle – that can be included in the policy with the “damage while parked” add-on. You can find more details in the General Conditions of Insurance (GCI) of the insurance company.

There are various factors that determine whether taking out partial casco insurance is worthwhile. If the vehicle is often outdoors, partial casco is advisable. Age and current vehicle value also influence the decision of whether or not to take out partial casco insurance: beyond a certain age, your vehicle is often no longer worth repairing because of its current value.

When is it worth taking out full casco insurance?

Full casco insurance is a combination of partial casco and collision casco cover. The latter covers damage you cause to your own car while you are driving, such as in a rear-end collision.

As a rule, full casco insurance is worthwhile for vehicles in up to and including the fourth year of operation. After that, you should consider switching to cheaper partial casco insurance. This is because, as the car decreases in value, it is often no longer worth paying high premiums. Full casco insurance is only worthwhile if you drive a particularly expensive car.

Good to know: full casco insurance is usually compulsory for leased vehicles.

Which add-ons do I need?

You can supplement the basic cover provided by vehicle liability, partial casco and full casco insurance by choosing from a range of add-ons. Some of these add-ons are suitable for every vehicle owner and should be included in the policy, while others only make sense for certain driver profiles or vehicles. However, in order to avoid a rude awakening in the event of a claim, you should carefully examine the add-ons before signing a contract. The individual components are explained in more detail below.

Passenger accident insurance

Passenger accident insurance covers injuries to drivers and passengers in the event of an accident. However, this insurance is often unnecessary because anyone employed in Switzerland has compulsory accident insurance through their employer, and those not in employment must take out this cover as part of their health insurance. You should only consider taking out this insurance if you often have passengers from abroad in your vehicle.

Damage while parked

Insurance against damage while parked covers damage to a parked car caused by unknown persons. It can often only be included in the policy in combination with full casco insurance. Insurers usually only offer this option up to a certain age of vehicle. Read more here on the subject of insurance for damage while parked.

Extended glass breakage

Glass damage to the front, rear and side windows is usually covered through partial casco insurance. Headlights are exempt from this cover. In particular, for cars with xenon headlights or other glass-like parts (such as the brake lamp cover), it makes sense to take out the “extended glass breakage” add-on.

Mobility insurance (roadside assistance)

Mobility cover – also referred to as “roadside assistance” – is usually part of partial casco insurance. It is definitely worth taking out, as vehicle breakdowns can quickly become expensive. However, you should check the benefits carefully beforehand. This is because the scope of cover varies from provider to provider – different insurers will specify different maximum loss amounts, for example.

Good to know: holders of travel insurance or a TCS membership already have roadside assistance cover in many cases.

Gross negligence cover

Gross negligence includes road traffic offences that can generally be avoided, such as driving through a red light. In the event of an accident due to gross negligence, the insurer can claim back some of the costs from the policyholder (recourse). Gross negligence cover protects you from such recourse.

This add-on is recommended for all motorists. Note: speeding offences, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as microsleeps, are not covered.

Replacement value supplement

New cars quickly lose value. Even in the first year, the replacement value can drop significantly below the purchase price. Insurance that includes a replacement value supplement guarantees compensation that is higher than the current vehicle value following theft or total write-off. The replacement value supplement is usually included as standard when you take out car insurance. You can find the total loss compensation per year in the insurer’s GCI.

Depending on the insurance company, those wanting to save on premiums can exclude the replacement value supplement from the policy: however, this is not recommended.

Our tip: compare the insurance provider's replacement value supplement tables before signing a contract. The benefits vary enormously depending on the provider and can make a difference of up to 1,000 francs in the event of a claim.

Bonus protection

One of the ways many car insurers calculate premiums is by using a bonus level system. Based on the driver profile, the policyholder is allocated to a specific bonus level, which determines the amount of the premium. The lower the bonus level, the lower the premium (example: bonus level of 35% means you pay 35% of the calculated premium). In the event of a claim, you move up the bonus level ladder and the premium increases. The bonus protection option prevents this type of premium increase. However, it usually only protects you from moving up to a higher level for one claim per insurance year.

Our tip: pay for minor damage yourself – especially if the cost of the damage only slightly exceeds the deductible.

Good to know: the insurers Dextra, PostFinance and Zurich do not offer a bonus level system but work with fixed premiums. This means that they do not increase the premium in the event of a claim.

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