Hallo Basel answers your questions about moving to Basel

Insurance in Switzerland

Switzerland is insurance country. Think AXA, Zurich, Swiss Life, Chubb, Mobiliar, Allianz, Prudential, Baloise… 

Some types of insurance are obligatory (health insurance, accident insurance and motor vehicle insurance, for example) but you can decide for yourself whether to take out insurance policies for other areas of life. 

When deciding which policies to take out, you can use comparison websites (such as comparis.ch) to examine the different companies and policies, or you can use an insurance agent (a Versicherungsvertreter) to help you.  

This page will look at health insurance, accident insurance, liability insurance, household insurance, motor vehicle insurance, travel insurance and legal insurance. 

Choosing Insurance

Health insurance

Health Insurance (Krankenversicherung) is mandatory in Switzerland. When you register with the municipality (Gemeinde) where you live they will ask you for proof that you have the basic health insurance. If you don’t have that proof yet, you must bring in proof as soon as you get it.

(EU citizens with pension income from other countries who are insured with foreign agencies should register with Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG in Switzerland in order to obtain a Swiss insurance card. The Gemeinsame Einrichtung Krankenversicherungsgesetzes is the Swiss Joint Foundation for Health Insurance and works for the benefit of the Swiss resident population in regard to the health system.)

Insurance models

There are many different private health insurance companies in Switzerland and they each have different insurance models. The following is a list of the main types of health insurance model in Switzerland:

  1. Telemedicine
    In telemedicine your first point of contact for medical assistance is by phone or internet with a centralized medical advice point. When you explain your health need, they will tell you what the next step is and where to go near you. This is the cheapest insurance model.
  2. Group Practise
    With the Group Practise model you have a group or list of doctors or practises that you arrange appointments with, and they will treat you or refer you to another specialist.
  3. Family Physician
    In this model, your first point of contact is your regular family doctor or General Practioner. Your physician can then refer you to other specialists as necessary. You will name your family doctor to your insurance company.
  4. Free choice of doctor
    With this model you can make appointments yourself directly with any doctor you wish. This is the most expensive insurance model.

Emergency Care

In the case of an immediate medical emergency or accident, you can always go to any health provider for treatment. Your health insurance provider may later ask for a referral letter from your family or designated doctor to verify that it was an emergency. If it was not an emergency and you are shown to have deviated from your agreed insurance model, you might not be fully covered.

Annual Deductible (Franchise or Excess)

All health insurance plans for adults have an annual deductible (also known as Franchise or Excess) which is at least CHF 300 per person per calendar year (some policies for children may have no deductible). One way to reduce your insurance premiums is to set a higher deductible. The higher the deductible, the cheaper the premium. The highest deductible is CHF 2’500.


In the case you reach your annual deductible, you pay 10% of the bills as a  ‘Co-pay’ (Selbstbehalt) up to CHF700. Thereafter, the insurance policy will cover your entire medical bills. For in-patient (over night stays in hospital) you may be exempt from co-pay, depending on your policy.

Supplemental insurance

Supplemental health insurance tops up your basic health insurance cover. Any supplements are elective and you do not have to take them.

Supplements can be paid for private or semi-private hospital rooms, wider geographical access to specialists within Switzerland, for dental work or for alternative medicine treatments.

While your basic health insurance will cover many (especially emergency) medical treatments abroad, you can also get supplemental insurance to ensure you have all the medical coverage you need in the countries you travel to, especially if you travel to countries where the medical costs are higher than Switzerland (for example, the USA). 

Accident insurance

Accident insurance is also obligatory in Switzerland.

If you are employed, your accident insurance is covered by your employer. Your employer will pay for the employment-related accident insurance (Berufsunfallversichering or BU) and the premium for non-employment related accident insurance (Nichtberufsunfallversicherung or NBU) will be deducted from your gross salary.

If you are not employed or if you are self-employed, accident insurance is an obligatory addition to your health insurance. When you apply for health insurance, you must indicate whether you have coverage for accident insurance through employment or not. If not, it will be added to your basic health insurance package.

Whenever you need medical treatment because of an accident–whether work-related or not work-related–you should tell the doctor or medical caregiver. This ensures the medical costs are fully covered by your accident insurance. And on the positive side, if you are employed, it won’t incur a deductible or excess!

A female, white haired doctor examining a teenage girl sitting uop on a table

Liability insurance

Liability insurance (Haftversicherung) is not mandatory, however, it is an obligatory component in many rental contracts for an apartment or house.

Liability insurance can cover you as an individual, or your whole family.

It covers accidental damage to a third party worldwide, to your rented apartment or house and for the use of a bicycle, e-bike or moped. Liability insurance also covers damage done by your pets and some towns require you to supply proof of coverage.

Most Swiss people have liability insurance. Damage to property can be expensive, as can damage from bicycle accidents or from pets. Although Switzerland does not have a suing culture, liability insurance is not that expensive for the peace of mind it brings. 

Household insurance

Household or inventory insurance covers your own assets from theft, fire, and water at home and away from home. The amount of coverage should be determined by the value of the goods you need to insure. 

Often liability and household insurance are combined into one policy.

Vehicle insurance

Vehicle liability insurance mandatory for all motor vehicle. Lack of vehicle liability insurance is punishable by law.

Anything above liability for your car or motorcycle is elective. You can take out fully comprehensive cover (which is mandatory if you lease a car) or partially comprehensive, which will cover some risks, but not others.

In Switzerland, it is the vehicle that is insured and not the person driving it.

Read this for information on vehicle taxes.  

Did you know?

In Switzerland, you can put two cars or two motorcycles on one license plate (Wechselschild). That is why you can sometimes see cars without a licence plate parked on the street or in yards. The licence plate is temporarily on another car.

Legal Assistance Insurance

Legal Assistance Insurance covers the costs for legal assistance should you encounter disputes that develop into legal cases (Rechtsschutzversicherung). This might include, for example, legal disputes with:

  • Landlords over the apartment or house you are renting
  • Doctors or hospitals about medical (mis-)treatment 
  • Neighbours about noise, yard partitions, parking issues
  • Employers about employment, remuneration, termination, or workplace treatment
  • Tenants, if problems arise
  • People or organizations about the interpretation of contracts
  • Other parties in a traffic accident or traffic fines you might disagree with

Note: Liability insurance covers your liability; legal assistance covers the costs of legal support.

Travel Insurance

Medical Insurance abroad

If you need medical assistance during your travels, you are already covered under your (mandatory) basic health insurance policy. However, your basic insurance only covers you for conditions (and prices) applicable in Switzerland. In countries where the medical costs are higher than Switzerland (for example, in the USA) your medical costs may not be fully covered.

Most health insurers offer inexpensive supplemental insurance that extends basic health insurance to full medical coverage worldwide.

Travel Insurance

So, what does travel insurance cover? Typically, travel insurance covers travel cancellations and re-booking, theft, damage, or loss. Some cover extra medical costs not included in your basic health insurance policy and repatriation. As you would in your home country, make sure you understand the cover limits and exclusions on your policy.

Other Insurance Policies

There are many more possible insurances.

Some work-related, for example insurance for board members, product insurance, or construction liability insurances. Some are private-related.

Check for yourself what you really need and what risks you can absorb yourself. The only mandatory insurance in Switzerland are: Basic Health Insurance, Accident Insurance, Liability Insurance (in some cases) and, for vehicle owners, Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance.

Do you need some help to guide you through the maze of Swiss insurances? Fill out the contact form and we’ll get in touch to answer your questions. We are not attached to any insurance company or agency and will not be trying to sell you anything.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions about Insurance, at Hallo Basel we can point you to the answers.

Ask us a question and we will email or call you back, completely free of charge. No strings attached. We are not insurance agents and are not trying to sell you anything. We simply want to offer a helping hand from those a few steps ahead on a similar journey.