When you cause damage or loss to another person, you have an obligation to remedy it. You can take out personal (civil) liability insurance that will cover the cost.
You can claim on your liability insurance for example if you break a friend's glasses, or knock a passer-by over on your bike, or your dog bites a child. Depending on the scale of the damage, personal liability insurance can save you from financial ruin.
In theory, personal liability insurance is not mandatory in Switzerland. In practice, you may struggle to rent an apartment without it. In the majority of cantons this type of insurance is also compulsory for anyone who keeps a dog.
In Switzerland, everyone who owns a motor vehicle (including motorbikes, mopeds and fast electric bikes) must also take out separate third-party motor insurance.
Personal liability insurance generally covers:
Personal injury and damage to property.
Damage mitigation expenses (e.g. costs caused by using water to put out a fire)
Financial loss as a result of personal injury or damage to property (e.g. procedural costs)
Defence against unjustified claims (e.g. if you are not responsible for the damage).
Your personal liability insurance does not cover damage, injury or loss:
Sustained by you as the policyholder, or by someone living in your household (this may be covered by accident insurance)
Caused by you in a professional capacity
As a result of wear and tear That was or should have been foreseeable
Related to the transmission of a contagious disease
Caused in connection with an offence or crime committed intentionally.
The cost of personal liability insurance varies considerably depending on the sum insured, deductible and the risks that the policy covers.
In Switzerland, insurance companies tend to offer cover ranging from CHF 5 million to CHF 20 million. The deductible – your out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a claim – will typically be between zero and CHF 5,000.
It is a good idea to compare what different insurers offer – try one of the many online insurance comparison sites.
Personal liability insurance and household contents insurance are often confused because they generally come as a package.
Unlike personal liability insurance, household contents insurance does not cover you for injury, damage or loss you cause to a third party. It covers damage to the items you have in your home, specifically personal belongings such as your furniture, TV, clothes and sports equipment.
You can take out personal liability and household contents insurance separately from two different insurers.
The Swiss Insurance Association provides general information on liability insurance.