Protecting your home: Buildings insurance and other home insurance

Protect your house. How to ensure you're well covered.

When you buy or build your dream home, you want to protect it. There are a number of options when it comes to insuring your home. Find out what types of home insurance are mandatory and what other insurance coverage could make sense for your home.

Home insurance – protection for your home

A home is so much more than just a building. It's a place where you feel safe and the hub of family life. As is the case with any property, however, there are certain risks to consider when you become a homeowner. An unexpected fire, a severe storm, or a burglary can not only leave emotional scars but also cause financial stress. The necessary repairs and replacements can be very costly. This is where insurance policies for your home come into play. They provide financial security should unforeseen events occur. As a general rule, if you have limited financial resources, it's a good idea to have more insurance. That way, it will be easier to deal with major losses/damage than if you have to pay for everything yourself.

Is buildings insurance mandatory in Switzerland?

Buildings insurance is mandatory in all cantons except Geneva, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Ticino, and Valais. This excludes the Oberegg district within Appenzell Innerrhoden. Homeowners are required to take out public insurance, also known as cantonal buildings insurance. This obligation to take out insurance makes sense: The elements can cause a lot of damage to a property. Flooding and rockfalls are just two examples. Only in the GUSTAVO cantons (Geneva, Uri, Schwyz, Ticino, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Valais, and Obwalden) is private insurance also an option.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Cantonal buildings insurance covers all damage to the building caused by natural events, such as avalanches, rockfalls, or floods. Damage scenarios like this are also referred to as damage caused by natural forces. The insurance only covers damage to the building itself though. If flood water destroys an expensive stereo system, for instance, or a new bed, a beautiful dining table, or other movable property, this is where your household contents insurance comes in. If the issue is caused by water damage, however, such as from a leaking or burst pipe, your water damage insurance will pay.

It may well be the case that two different insurance policies could cover the same claim. In this case, you should obtain a customized quote from the relevant private insurer.

Supplementary insurance for your home

Anything not covered by the buildings insurance can be covered by various other insurance policies. The most common examples are household contents insurance, liability insurance, property owners' liability insurance, and legal expenses insurance. Less common but most definitely useful insurance policies include glass and/or breakage insurance, supplementary insurance, water damage insurance, and garden and grounds insurance.

Note that the names of the individual policies and the coverage they provide may vary greatly depending on the service provider.

Household contents insurance

Buildings insurance covers damage to your home itself. This includes fixtures such as cooking hobs, bathtubs, built-in closets, chimneys, and shutters. Damage to furniture and other movable property, by contrast, is not covered by buildings insurance. It is therefore advisable to take out household contents insurance. However, these policies often do not cover glass breakage. So if you have an expensive display case, for instance, you may want to take out additional glass insurance. You should also review the sum insured regularly to make sure you are adequately insured.

Liability insurance

It is advisable to take out liability insurance in addition to household contents insurance, although this is not mandatory. This type of insurance covers claims for damages by third parties. For example: If a child climbs a tree in your garden and a rotten branch breaks, causing injury to the child. Or if an icicle breaks away from the guttering and causes an injury.

Glass or breakage insurance

Breakage insurance provides cover for consequential damage caused by burglary or glass breakage and can be taken out as a supplement to buildings insurance. Examples of this kind of damage might include a damaged glass ceramic cooktop in the kitchen or a broken window in the conservatory.

Legal expenses insurance

In addition, it can make sense for landlords to take out legal expenses insurance. This voluntary insurance provides support in the event of tenancy law disputes and covers any litigation costs. Even if you own your home, legal expenses insurance may still be useful – in the case of disputes with neighbours, for instance.

Supplementary insurance

Damage caused by vermin, martens, or vandalism can be covered by supplementary insurance. This supplementary insurance could take the form of additional coverage under an existing buildings insurance policy with a private provider. Solar installations can also be insured, if not already covered by insurance for building systems.

Insurance for building systems

With the transition to sustainable living, more and more homes are using complex building systems. If you want to make sure you are fully protected if your solar installation or heat pump fails, we recommend taking out insurance for building systems. These policies can also cover washing machines.

Garden and grounds insurance

The damage caused by storms is not restricted to just the building itself. Gardens, including hedges, fences, and walls, can also be affected. This type of insurance is especially worthwhile if you have made a big investment in your garden and damage would result in a considerable (financial) burden.

Property owners' liability insurance

Private liability insurance is only applicable for owner-occupied homes and owner-occupied multi-family dwellings comprising a maximum of three apartments. If the building is larger or if it is being rented out, the condominium association can take out property owners' liability insurance. This protects the condominium owners or landlords against claims from third parties.

When the various insurance policies come into play

Application examples

Loss or damage following a fire

If there is a fire in the house due to carelessness or a lightning strike, buildings insurance will cover damage to the house. If household contents insurance has been taken out, this covers movable property such as furniture.


Flooding following a storm is considered to be damage caused by natural forces and as such is also covered by buildings insurance. Water damage to movable objects can be covered by an optional household contents insurance policy.

Damage from water pipes

A burst pipe is not considered to be damage caused by natural forces, so buildings insurance won't pay out for this. A water damage insurance policy can fill the gap, assuming you have purchased one.

Accident on icy steps in front of the house

If someone falls on icy steps in front of the house, the homeowner is liable for injuries sustained on their private property. Homeowners can therefore take out private liability insurance that will then cover claims by third parties.

Falling tiles

If a loose tile falls from the roof of a multi-family dwelling and lands on a parked car, private liability insurance will not pay for damage to the property of third parties if the condominium has more than three apartments. Property owners' liability insurance is required in this scenario.

Have you thought about all the important factors in relation to your property?

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