Insurance for private property owners

We inform - you profit

Insurance for private property owners

We inform - you profit

Insurance for private property owners

We inform - you profit

Comprehensive insurance coverage for private residential property

Safety is one of the most important housing needs because there is always the possibility of something going wrong and causing damage where you live and spend a lot of time. Questions about appropriate insurance solutions are therefore very diverse and individual, sometimes also requiring intensive consultation. For this reason, dealing with the topic of timely insurance for one’s own home is indispensable. 

Our guidebook will provide you with all the necessary information. Your local Engel & Völkers advisor will be happy to assist you or recommend experts.

Table of contents

1. Summary chart insurance

The following is a brief outline of the most important insurance options for homeowners.

- Übersicht Versicherungen EN

2. Builder’s liability and construction sector insurance

Many builders are unaware that they are liable for damages that occur due to their construction site even if they are not directly to blame for the cause. This can involve personal injury or property damage causally related to the new construction or property conversion.

Possible damages can include:

  • Slippage of excavated ground onto the neighbour’s property due to heavy rainfall.
  • A neighbouring property subsides as a result of construction work.
  • Pipelines are damaged on the neighbouring property.
  • Cracks appear on the neighbouring building as a result of vibrations.
  • crane load falls onto the neighbouring property and injures a third party or
         damages property belonging to third parties.
  • A pedestrian falls into the excavation pit and is injured.
  • A nearby stream is contaminated by construction work.
  • Legal action against unjustified claims is required.

Builder’s liability insurance covers justified claims for personal injury or property damage for these and similar events in connection with a construction site. In any case, the builder is responsible for ensuring that the construction site is properly secured and, ideally, monitored.

Construction insurance provides protection in cases not covered by the liability insurance of the party causing the damage. Construction insurance involves the theft of building components and can cover all workers involved in the construction.

Insurance coverage is provided for the following types of damage:

  • Damage to and destruction of new construction work (construction accidents /
        installation errors)
  • Theft of new or installed components
  • Theft of contractors’ tools and machinery
  • Ground slippage
  • Acts of malicious spray-painting and vandalism
  • Delays in construction

In the case of conversions or renovations, construction accidents at the existing building can also be insured.

3. Loss of income and death insurance

The planning of the building project has been completed, the financing has been approved by the bank, the construction work can begin and nothing remains to burst the dream of owning a new home.

Especially at this point, however, it may be worthwhile to consider a private pension plan in the event of income loss following an accident or illness. After all, even in the event of loss of income or disability, there should be a way to maintain ownership or, in the event of death, for surviving dependants to retain the property.

Private pensions are a central element of personal financial planning that should stand behind every major financial project throughout life. This is a complex matter that requires options individually tailored to a person’s financial possibilities. A review can indicate where income gaps may arise as a result of an accident or illness; these should ideally be addressed. Illness in particular is often accorded much less coverage than are accidents. This is where a private plan can be of great assistance.

In any case, disability and term life insurance provides you with the pension or capital you need so that, even where the primary breadwinner is unable to work, your income is guaranteed and the affordability of your financing is ensured. A pension is primarily intended to compensate a lack of income, while capital allows the mortgage to be amortised and in this way reduced.

4. Fire and natural hazards insurance

Natural events, which are likely to increase in frequency and severity in the future due to climate change, are generally well covered by building insurance in Switzerland. This can be explained by the fact that, in addition to fire damage caused by:

  • fire, smoke, heat
  • electrical energy
  • lightning strike
  • explosion, blast
  • aircraft crashes
  • missiles

a broad list of natural hazards is also insured. These include damage caused by:

  • flooding, inundation
  • storms
  • hail
  • avalanche, snow pressure
  • rockfall, rock slides
  • landslides

Building insurance is compulsory in 22 cantons and is often a prerequisite for obtaining a mortgage, which means that the proportion of insured is probably close to 100%. Because of this, fire and natural hazard insurance for buildings covers the costs of damage to the structure during construction or to the functioning building.

Insurance coverage against natural hazards is relatively comprehensive in Switzerland. Nevertheless, property owners should be aware of the gap in this coverage. As a rule, damage caused by an earthquake is not included in natural hazards coverage as a part of building insurance. The only exception is the canton of Zurich, where earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher on the MSK-64 seismic scale are also covered by building insurance.

5. Hidden dangers in the household

Glass breakage

Glass insurance comes into play when the induction hob exhibits signs of stress and window panes or basins break. Glass insulation windows are very expensive to produce. This is true as well for cooking surfaces, basins or toilet bowls. This is why glass insurance covers the costs for:

- Breakage involving all glazing that is firmly attached to the

- Emergency glazing for use until permanent panes are installed

- Breakage of ceramic glass cooking surfaces, basins, sinks 
  and toilets

Domestic technical installations

The garage door suddenly fails to open or the heat pump or heating system breaks down. All technical equipment permanently connected to the building is protected under domestic technical installation insurance. This becomes a good supplement to an existing service contract that includes periodic checks and replacement of wear parts. It offers an additional way to take out comprehensive insurance against all kinds of damage and destruction.

This insurance pays for unforeseen and sudden damage to and destruction of building equipment as well as loss of income and additional costs for photovoltaic systems.

Household contents insurance

Household contents insurance is another important component of protection against damage caused by storms or housebreaking. It covers damage to movable property and also comes into play in the event of damage caused by natural disasters. Unlike most other home insurance policies, it is relevant in equal measure for both owners and tenants. However, household contents insurance offers protection not only at home but also against damage and theft (luggage) during travelling and on holiday.

6. Building water damage insurance

Property owners are particularly well advised to consider taking out building water damage insurance. This is because building insurance only covers part of the water damage, namely the portion caused by “above-ground water” resulting from a disaster (floods, inundation).

Not covered, however, is damage caused by rising groundwater, sewage backup, burst pipes, defective floor heating or a broken backwater valve in the laundry room. Since such events often result in expensive repairs, it is advisable to consider taking out building water damage insurance.

Building water damage insurance covers damage caused by the following:

  • Water from pipes installed in the insured building
  • Rain, snow and melt water that has penetrated through the roof, gutter, exterior 

     downspouts or leaky windows, doors and skylights

  • Backups from sewage systems as well as groundwater and slope

     water seeping into the interior of the building

  • Exposure, repair and sealing of burst water or gas pipes both inside and outside 

      the building

  • Costs for deploying leak detection equipment

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7. Earthquakes insurance

In Switzerland, earthquakes are covered by building insurance only within the canton of Zurich. However, only about CHF 1 billion is available to the earthquake fund and to related reinsurance resources to cover the damage. In the event of a severe earthquake, this amount would hardly be sufficient to compensate for all the damage that could be incurred.

Where damage exceeds available funding, homeowners are compensated on a pro rata basis. Regardless whether money from the earthquake fund is sufficient to cover the damage, the required contribution by the insured amounts to at least CHF 20,000.

Since an earthquake is an existential threat, it certainly makes sense to be insured against the financial consequences. With earthquake insurance, you can choose between basic coverage for emergency aid and extended coverage of the difference between the basic policy and the full insured value. Both types (basic and extended coverage) provide benefits in the event of destruction, damage or loss due to an earthquake. In addition, around 20% of the insured sum insured also covers clean-up and disposal costs. There is no minimum earthquake intensity level.

8. Third-party liability insurance

Owners of buildings are responsible for these. If their property is poorly maintained, they can be held liable for damages claimed by third parties. Poor maintenance can include, for example:

  • ​icy driveways
  • snow falling from the building roof
  • Unbolted stair railings

Third-party liability insurance comes into play in these cases. It provides assistance by:

  • covering the damage in the event of justified claims by third parties
  • and defending against unjustified claims.

9. Glossary

1. Natural hazards

Natural hazards, as defined by the insurance industry, are losses caused by natural events. Natural hazards include, for example, damage caused by storms, hail, floods, avalanches, snow pressure, landslides and rockfall (exhaustive list).

2. Underinsurance

The term underinsurance or coverage shortfall is used in property insurance texts to describe a situation in which the insured amount is lower than the insured value. Underinsurance is often referred to as a situation that should be avoided, especially when insuring household contents.

3. Current value insurance

Current value insurance, in contrast to replacement value insurance, only compensates the value of the damaged object as determined at the time of the damage. This is referred to as the current value. Depreciation of assets over time can be due to age, use or wear and tear, for example.

4. Building liability insurance

Building liability insurance represents for property owners what private liability insurance is for private individuals. Building liability insurance covers personal injury and property damage directly attributable to the existence of a building or a plot of land.

Cooperation partner

We have created this guide with the support of die Mobiliar in Zug, the oldest private insurance company in Switzerland.

- Logo Die Mobiliar

Do you have questions about this exciting topic or are you interested in a print edition? Our real estate experts on site will be happy to help you.

Portraitfoto von Thomas Frigo

Thomas Frigo

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