Household and Personal Liability Insurance

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Switzerland

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

I have covered several types of insurance on this blog before. But there is one type of insurance that I did not cover: household and personal liability insurance.

Household insurance will cover your items in case of fire, damage, or theft. And personal liability insurance will cover damage that you will do to other persons’ items.

I talk about these together because they are generally offered together by insurance providers.

So, let’s see what these two types of insurance are.

Household insurance

Household insurance or household contents insurance (assurance ménage en français) is insurance for your items.

This insurance will cover damage to your items in case of water damage, fire damage, or theft. It is essential to know that most providers will also cover your household items when you are away from home, for instance, in a hotel.

Here are a few examples of what would be covered:

  • A fire in your kitchen
  • Water damage in your basement
  • Theft of your camera in a hotel
  • Somebody steals your things under threat

It is also essential to know that they generally cover the value of the items as if they were new. They will not consider the age of these items. It is great if somebody steals your phone, for instance, you can buy it new again with the payment from the insurance.

However, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you want them to cover your sports equipment with their new value, you will generally need to pay extra.

The amount covered by the insurance will depend on what you choose. If you own very little, you can select the default coverage, but if you own many valuable things, you should adapt your coverage. Generally, notes and precious metals are not covered, so be extra careful if you have these at home.

As usual, insurance providers make it more complicated than it ought to be. So, household insurance is not the same as household contents insurance in some companies. You have to be extra careful about what the policy covers in these cases. For instance, if you want coverage for your items outside the house, you will have to make sure this is covered because each insurance policy will differ.

Personal Liability Insurance

Personal Liability insurance will cover the damage to other people and other people’s items.

If you injure someone by mistake, this insurance will cover their medical fees and possibly the financial loss caused by their injuries. Or if you damage your neighbor’s car while getting the mail, this will also be covered.

Since these damages can cost a lot, such insurance also covers a lot. Usually, you will find insurance products covering between one and 10 million CHF. This amount is impressive coverage, and it comes at a very fair price. On the other hand, most people will never use it. But this is a case where you would rather have it and not use it than not have it and need it.

Are they mandatory?

Contrary to what most people believe, these insurance are not mandatory. However, there are cases where they are. As usual, things are not as simple as they ought to be in Switzerland.

Indeed, in some cantons, it is mandatory, while it is optional in others. For instance, household insurance is mandatory in Fribourg. In Vaud, people have to be insured against fire, but they use cantonal insurance for that, so they do not need household insurance.

Often, they become mandatory when you are renting. Indeed, most leases force you to have personal liability insurance and household insurance. However, there are some conditions. For instance, you may only have to get insurance against glass damage.

Also, many insurance advisors will try to convince you that they are mandatory or, at the very least, will never tell you they are not.

Should you take these two insurance?

Should we take these two types of insurance now that we know about them?

I have both types of insurance. I think they are cheap enough and cover many things that most people should take them. I do not necessarily recommend taking all the options, but the base personal liability insurance and household contents insurance should be useful for everybody.

For me, personal liability insurance is the most useful. It covers events that would be extremely expensive, and it does that at a very low price.

Household insurance is also quite useful if you have enough items at home. If you are a true minimalist, you can probably forego this. But most people have enough things at home that they would replace in case of a bad event.

These two types of insurance bring peace of mind, and I do not mind paying the small premium every year. If it is the same for you, you should take them.

If you do not want to take them (and if you have the choice), you should ensure that you have enough in your emergency fund to cover these uncovered issues.

How to choose?

Like for every insurance product, there are huge differences between providers in both prices and coverage. I recommend being particularly careful with these two insurance products.

The first important point is to cover all the people from your household together. All insurance providers have options to cover all members of your household together and not individually. This makes it much cheaper, and it also makes it much simpler since you have a single insurance policy.

Similarly, you should also use combined insurance and not separate them over two providers. Again, this will be cheaper and simpler.

The second important point is to choose the cover of your household contents. All household contents insurance will have a limit on the value insurance. So, if you declare 50’000 CHF, you cannot then claim 100’000 CHF of damage. So, it is essential to get a good picture of what your household contents are worth.

Finally, the third parameter you have to choose is how much coverage you want for your personal liability insurance. For most people, the default is enough (usually 5 million CHF). If it brings you more peace of mind, you can consider increasing that to the next level.

Once you have chosen the main parameters, you can use a comparator to find the cheapest insurance for your needs. Usually, I would use moneyland for comparison, but they do not have this insurance. So, instead, we can use the comparator from comparis.

When running the comparator for my household, it gives me five insurance in the top five:

  • Generali
  • La Mobilière
  • Helvetia
  • Migros
  • AXA

These insurance have almost the same price, between 311 and 314 CHF per year. Before choosing, I would recommend checking the coverage of these insurance policies.

Especially, each insurance provider has its options, which can help drive the price down if you can only use the options you need. For instance, in our case, we do not need to cover sports equipment because we almost have none of it. And since we never drive other’s people cars, we do not need this coverage either. By removing these two options, we could save 40 CHF per year.

Currently, we are at Helvetia, but it looks like we can get a cheaper policy by changing some of these options. So I will have to look at what we can do.

Overall, I do not have an opinion on any of the providers since I have never used the policy. So, I would recommend using the cheapest one with enough coverage for you. I recommend checking all the options and only using the options you need.

Conclusion

Household insurance and personal liability insurance are two insurance that most people have. And I believe that almost everybody should have these two types of insurance.

Indeed, both types of insurance are relatively cheap and can cover rather expensive damages, although unlikely. I believe this is where insurance becomes interesting.

If you want to learn more about insurance, you can read my guide on health insurance in Switzerland.

What about you? What do you think about these two types of insurance?

Baptiste Wicht is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

20 thoughts on “Household and Personal Liability Insurance”

  1. I have moved from Axa insurance to Smile Direct insurance.
    I first try to register to La Mobiliere but I didn’t like the fact that you cannot register online and have someone calling you. I sale was insistant inmy case and it turn me off.

  2. The household insurance is a 100% waste of money. You don’t need it. Are you so attached to your belonging you can’t afford to lose them? Better save the money and buy again if it ever happens.

    The personal liability insurance makes sense, as your liability is potentially uncapped. I guess the the insurance must be capped however.

    1. Hi Sergio,

      I would not call it a waste of money. Many people have expensive belongings and this insurance is cheap enough that it makes sense to have it. I have many collections of books that would not survive a fire or flood and the same for my many computers.

  3. Hi Baptiste,

    You should take a look closer at La Mobilière and also at Vaudoise Assurance. They are both mutual insurance and they give back some money every year to their customers.

    Also if you combine multiple insurances (car + households /personal liability + building insurance for exemple), you should have a really nice discount at the end of the year + also some “cashback” in the form of a lower yearly tax for exemple.

    I have optimised that way with regrouping everything at La Vaudoise and I am saving around 500.- each year.

    1. Hi John,

      Yes, combinations are often very interesting, But sometimes it’s a trap. Even with the reduction for combination, it’s very rare that single insurance is better than multiple insurances. So people should be careful and really do the math.

    2. Same as John. I am with La Vaudoise for our household/personal liability insurance, and we benefit from a 20% reduction ever few years. In fact they rotate giving back their surpluses to each type of insurance holder everything year: one year car insurance holders will get the reduction, the next year will be household insurance holders, etc.

      I am not sure sites such as Comparis factor in these specificities of mutual insurances in the data they publish.

  4. Hi Baptiste, always interested in yours articles.
    I have a question about insurance, I had both household personal and liability insurance but then I feel that was not useful for me. I do not have any valuable good at home, but last year I bought a MTB and I would like to insure that. Any suggestion?

    1. Hi Marco,

      I would say it depends on what you want to insure. Do you want to be protected against theft or fire at home? In that case, household insurance is the way to go.
      if you want to insure against theft outside, household insurance is also the way to go, but you have to be careful about the options to ensure your MTB will be insured.
      If you want to insure against damage outside, then, you will have to take special insurance for valuables.

  5. Dear Baptiste,

    Thank you for your hints and tips based on your own experience. This article came just on time as this insurance is bothering me for some time now. Here goes my question:

    When we consider the value of the household items should we include the kitchen/bathroom items (electrical appliances, mirrors, etc.) that are pre-installed in our rented apartment/house?

    If yes, is there a “safe” amount we should consider of?]
    If no, how is potential damage to these items covered?

    Thanks again for your time!

    1. Hi Andreas,

      I would think not, there are not yours and the owner will be insured separately normally with property insurance. As a rule of thumb, I would only consider what you would take with you if you were to move out.

      Personally, I have simply followed the amount given to me by the insurance, based on the amount of rooms in our home. We don’t have anything particularly valuable. If you have special valuables, you need to increase that amount. But I would recommend talking to the insurance to get an idea of what you need.

  6. Hi Baptiste, I don’t own many expensive items or drive a car so I’m mostly concerned about accidental damage to my rented flat (want to drill a few holes in the walls) and damage to other people’s person/property. Broadly speaking would personal liability insurance be sufficient alone? Thanks for your input.

    1. Hi Anna,

      If you are only concerned about damages you would do yourself to other people’s property, I believe personal liability should be sufficient.
      Make sure you check for electrical and pipes before drilling into the wall :)

  7. Thank you for the investigation.
    In canton de Vaud, it belive it is not mandatory to have either of these if you own your own flat.
    Is the mandatory Personal Liability Insurance for using a car (RC auto) a different thing from the standard Personal Liability Insurance ?
    One is mandatory when buying a car but should one get an additional one to cover other related incidents, do they overlap in coverage?

    1. Hi john,

      Yes, the RC for cars is different than the personal RC. The RC for the car is mandatory and does not overlap the coverage for personal RC.
      I would recommend having both.

  8. Well I used to have one household insurance at Zurich for 252.- net.

    I cancelled it last year and have just recently done another one with less coverage plus a liability insurance for us 4 with Smile for about 255.- in total…

    1. Hi Pedro,

      Are you saying you are now paying the same for household insurance and liability insurance at Smile than you were paying only for household insurance at Zurich? That’s cool!
      Are you happy with Smile?

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