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    Insurance for property owners in Switzerland

    You have just acquired a villa or an apartment. A building, even in perfect condition, is never safe from a disaster. It can result in significant financial losses. Real estate insurances are very different from each other. How can you best protect your home? What damage is covered?

    Fire and natural damage insurance

    This basic insurance covers natural disasters (hurricanes, hail, floods, avalanches, snow pressure, rockslides and landslides) that can damage your building or part of it. An example is a storm that damages the roof of your house. This insurance is compulsory in most cantons, with cantonal insurance companies holding the monopoly. In French-speaking Switzerland, Geneva and Valais are exceptions, leaving the choice of insurance company to the homeowner. While such coverage is not mandatory, it may be required, particularly by the mortgagee.

    Preventing yourself from any risk, your homeowners insurance

    Other types of insurance supplement basic insurance. The most common options are:

    • Water damage is covered by fire and natural damage insurance only when it’s flooding caused by rainfall. An additional option covers damage such as burst pipes or water damage caused by leaky roofs and walls.
    • Glass Breakage. This option insures you against any breakage of glass panes or windows.
    • The technical installations. You can insure yourself against risks related to technical installations: heating, solar panels, pool pumps, etc.
    • Theft with break-in. Concerns damage to premises and facilities that are not covered by household insurance.
    • Earthquakes. Some 500 earthquakes are recorded annually in Switzerland. A telluric tremor can cause cracks or major damage in the building. It can therefore be useful to insure yourself against such damage.
    • Subsidiary dangers. Protection exists in case of risks of vandalism, damage caused by insects, rodent bites and impacts with a vehicle.

    Other insurance

    Household insurance covers all property inside your home, such as furniture and electrical appliances. Be careful, however, not to duplicate building insurance for “glass breakage” or “theft” options. When you become a homeowner, a “building” legal protection may be necessary. It allows you to protect yourself against possible conflicts with neighbours or disputes related to your property. For example in the case where a neighbor’s tree falls on your garage.


    Insurance against financial loss

    If your house burns down and becomes uninhabitable for a period of time, you will have to rent an apartment. However, you will still have to pay mortgage interest and other non-compressible expenses. An insurance option helps to avoid this double financial burden.

    In the event that you own a rental property and rent it out in whole or in part, rental income loss insurance may be a good idea. In the event of a loss, its occupants are excused from paying their rent. However, the bank that granted you a mortgage will not give you the interest. With rental income loss insurance, you protect yourself from the financial hardship that a loss could cause.

    Liability insurance

    Liability insurance (Liability insurance) protects you for any damage (property or bodily injury) caused to third parties. This could be a visitor slipping on a patch of ice at the entrance to your home or your child breaking the neighbours’ window by throwing their ball. Premiums are usually modest for what can be a large loss. Private individuals with a house are covered by their private liability insurance. If there are leases (more than three apartments), there is a contractual obligation to take out “building” liability insurance.


    If you are planning a new construction, conversion or renovation, it is recommended that you take out a building owner’s liability insurance policy, as well as a building site risk insurance policy. It can happen that an electricity pipe breaks during excavation work and the power supply is cut off in the whole neighbourhood. Elements can fall from scaffolding onto a car or injure a person. Be aware, however, that these insurances are usually already taken out by the architect or general contractor.

    At the end of the day, which insurance company is best?

    The amount of the insurance premium depends on many factors. The sum insured should be the cost of constructing an equivalent new building. Private insurance companies offer a free building estimate through the Building Estimating Bureau (BEB). To find the most suitable insurance company for your property, contact an insurance intermediary approved by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. Some real estate agencies have a broker who specialises in real estate insurance. He will analyse the property, its situation and the potential risks involved. He will offer the owner different packages and variants. In short, the best insurance is the one that the individual will take out following appropriate advice!

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