Contents and personal liability

Contents insurance – key questions and answers

| By Frédéric Papp |
Source: iStock / vicnt

If you are leaving home for the first time, renting a new apartment or setting up an apartment share, it's a good idea to take out home contents insurance. The cost of water or fire damage can soon add up – and if you're not insured, you’ll have to cover the costs yourself. Comparis explains what you need to know about contents insurance.

Why do I need contents insurance?

Although home contents insurance is not compulsory in Switzerland, it is strongly recommended. Let's say your bath overflows. Any resulting damage to your furniture is usually covered by home contents insurance. Or what if your home is burgled? Your TV, 10,000 francs’ worth of jewellery and an expensive designer bag have all gone. If you have contents insurance, you can claim for these losses up to the agreed sum insured.

What does contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance covers damage that occurs to household goods. These include furniture, clothes and home electronics items such as TVs. You are covered for any damage to household goods caused by fire, water, storms, burglary and vandalism. Household goods are usually insured at their replacement value (the price of a new product of equivalent value).

Your insurer will usually also pay out, up to the sum agreed in the policy, for any other costs associated with the damage or the disruption it has caused. This includes the cost of replacing locks, an overnight stay in a hotel and cleaning up and disposal work, for example.

How high is the deductible?

The deductible generally ranges from 200 to 500 francs. It is deducted from the cost of the damage and must be paid by the policyholder.

How high is the sum insured?

The sum insured is calculated based on the approximate value of your household goods.

  • Avoid underinsuring your items: you are underinsured if the value of your household goods is higher than the sum insured. In the event of a claim, your insurance company may considerably reduce its payout.
  • Avoid overinsuring your items: you are overinsured if the sum insured is higher than the replacement value of the household contents. In the event of a claim, the most you will receive is the replacement value of the damaged item. Therefore, what you are paying in premiums exceeds the cover provided.

Check your sum insured regularly, in particular after the following events: moving into a new home, buying new furniture, moving in with someone, moving out of the parental home. 

Does taking out contents insurance automatically cover me against theft?

In contents insurance, a distinction is made between the following types of theft cover:  

  • Burglary:  contents insurance includes all thefts from a room, apartment or house due to a break-in. In theory, it can also include thefts involving only a container being forced open.
  • Robbery: this includes thefts made under threat or through use of violence. It also applies abroad.
  • Simple theft away from home: this option covers theft that is not caused by burglary or robbery, and must be added to your contents insurance separately. Note: lost or mislaid items are not usually replaced.

Is cycle theft covered?

Cycle theft outside the home is only covered if you add “simple theft away from home” to your contents insurance policy. This also applies to items you might carry around with you, such as a handbag or laptop. In the event of a theft, the insurance company will pay out the value of replacing the items as new. You are therefore always advised to include “simple theft away from home” in your policy.

How expensive is contents insurance?

The cost of your premium depends on various factors, such as the value of your household effects, the size of your home and the standard of furnishings. Most insurers offer a combination of home contents and personal liability insurance. Contents insurance for an average sum insured costs between 150 and 300 francs per year. 

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The most important tips in a nutshell

  • Check your contents insurance policy if you move home or move in with your partner: contents insurance is usually based on the value of the household goods or the number of persons mentioned in the policy.
  • Check your sum insured regularly to avoid underinsurance and overinsurance: creating a list of all your household effects will give you a clear overview of your insurance needs. 
  • Check to see if the policy includes “simple theft away from home”: most thefts take place outside the home.