Contents and personal liability

Personal liability insurance: what you need to know

| By Frédéric Papp |
Source: iStock / Serhii Sobolevskyi

Personal liability insurance protects you from financial ruin if, for example, you accidentally cause serious harm to someone. Comparis explains what else is covered by personal liability insurance and what to watch out for when taking out a policy.

What does personal liability insurance cover?

Claims against the policyholder arising from:

  • Personal injury
  • Property damage
  • Financial loss due to personal injury and property damage

In addition, personal liability insurance protects policyholders against unjustified claims made against them.

Personal liability insurance provides protection if, for example, a child causes damage as a result of not being properly supervised by their parent or parents. The insured persons are stated in the policy. Usually, you can choose between an individual or a family policy. A family policy usually covers people living in the same household, such as spouses, cohabiting partners and children. The precise definition of family cover varies from insurer to insurer. Even full-age children are often included, depending on their age and employment status. Sometimes, children living outside the home (students, apprentices) are also covered, if they regularly stay in the policyholder’s household (weekend or weekday resident). If in doubt, check carefully who the insurance covers.

As a rule, personal injury and damage to property caused by pets are also covered. Don't forget that liability insurance only covers the current value of the damaged property.

Why do I need liability insurance?

If you cause bodily injury or property damage to a third party, you are held liable. Liability insurance covers the costs incurred in such cases – whether you break someone's glasses or injure someone – provided you did so accidentally. What seems to be a trivial offence may end up costing a lot of money and, if you are not insured, make a major dent in your bank account.

Is personal liability insurance compulsory?

Generally, personal liability insurance is not compulsory in Switzerland. However, if you have a dog, it is obligatory in some cantons. Personal liability insurance is also a standard feature in the portfolios of insurance companies. Depending on the claim, it can protect you from financial ruin.

Example of a liability insurance case

Imagine you are riding your bike and don't notice a pedestrian when you make a turn. You collide. The pedestrian falls and sustains a serious injury. Since you caused the accident, you must cover all the costs. Depending on the injury and incidental damages, these costs could run into several thousand francs. If you do not have personal liability insurance, you must pay every last franc out of your own pocket.

Will my liability insurance cover all the damage?

A deductible or excess applies to liability insurance, as it does for almost all other types of insurance. This is the amount that the policyholder must pay. It is usually 200 francs but can be defined individually. Remember: the higher the deductible, the cheaper the premium.

What is not covered by personal liability insurance?

Exclusions are listed in the general conditions of insurance. The following claims, for example, are not covered:

  • Claims arising from damage or harm caused to a person living in the same household
  • Damage or harm caused deliberately
  • Property damage or bodily injury caused by motor vehicles (compulsory vehicle liability insurance applies here)
  • Damage or harm arising in the context of a professional activity

Insurance for driving other cars covers the cost of damage caused to someone else’s vehicle when you are driving it. It is an add-on within personal liability insurance.

Gross negligence is not covered unless you take out separate cover for it.

How do I take out liability insurance?

Insurance companies often offer personal liability insurance in conjunction with contents insurance, but you can also take them out separately. If you compare several similar insurance deals, you can quickly save around a hundred francs or more per year. Always check whether the deal includes the right to cancel after one year. This gives you the option of switching to a cheaper insurance provider at the end of the year. The period of notice is usually three months.