For members


Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’

This may sound like a joke, but it really isn’t: these small furry animals cause millions of francs in damage to Swiss vehicles each year. This is how you can protect yourself against these critters and their very sharp teeth.

Why your Swiss car insurance should contain a ‘weasel clause’
For all you know, this weasel may be eyeing your car. Photo by Pixabay

If you own a car in Switzerland which you park outdoors, it is possible that you have tried to start the engine in the morning, only to find that the vehicle “died” overnight.

A variety of mechanical problems could cause this breakdown, but it is very likely that a weasel …weaseled its way under your car and gnawed at the wires, just because that’s what these creatures seem to do in Switzerland.

And if you think that weasel-inflicted damage is rare and inconsequential — it isn’t.

For instance, each year AXA Insurance treats about 17,000 claims of damage perpetrated by weasels, which are particularly active during May and June. In 2020, these claims amounted to approximately 8 million francs.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland

According to Swiss Professional Automobile Association (UPSA), “weasels like to eat automotive cables, pipes, insulating mats and rubber parts. This is why Swiss vehicles suffer damage estimated at several million francs every year”.

However, weasels don’t just “eat” vehicle components; they attack them in the literal sense of the word.

And it is not a pretty sight — or smell.

These animals  “feel very comfortable in the warm environment of engine compartments. They mark their territory by depositing odorous secretions each time they visit a car. Until then, the mammal does not cause any damage. This becomes problematic as soon as one of its congeners enters the same engine compartment and perceives the smell of the other. This awakens the territorial instinct in him. This is why it bites and then gnaws anything that carries the scent of the other animal”, UPSA reports.

Now that you know how and why this happens, the question is — what can you do about it?

One preventive measure recommended by UPSA is to regularly wash the engine, as this may neutralise the animals’ ‘markers’ and deter other weasels from munching.

How much does it cost to repair the damage?

Depending on what kind of havoc a weasel wreaks under the hood, costs of repair vary, with an average price being 450 francs, according to AXA.

It is therefore important to make sure your auto insurance covers weasel damage.  The premium will be determined by your car model, its age, and the extent of coverage you choose, but it is an option offered by all Swiss insurance companies.

This is just one more thing to make sure your life in Switzerland doesn’t get too boring.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Swiss healthcare costs are rising and how you can save

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For members


Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?

Complementary insurance pays for services not included in the basic coverage. Whether or not you should purchase this policy depends on what your needs are.

Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?
Supplemental health insurance may be useful in Switzerland. Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP

What’s the difference between basic and supplemental insurance?

Switzerland’s compulsory basic health insurance (KVG / LaMal) covers a wide variety of treatments.

Among them are doctor’s care and hospital stay, medical tests, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nutritional counselling, speech therapy, mental health therapy, chiropractic therapy, rehabilitation therapy, and prescribed medications.

Basically, anything your doctor orders, the insurance will pay for, with the exception of experimental drugs or treatments which have not been approved in Switzerland.

Additionally, if you get sick or have an accident abroad, KVG / LaMal  will pay the costs of emergency treatment in a foreign hospital, up to twice the amount that the same treatment would cost in your canton of residence.

There are some out-of-pocket expenses you are expected to pay. Only after your chosen deductible amount  (“franchise”) has been reached does the insurance company start to pay out.

But after the deductible is reached, you will still have to pay 10 percent of treatment and medication costs, up to 700 francs for adults and 350 for children per year.

There is also a 15-franc per day charge for hospital stays.

READ MORE: Five tips for getting cheaper health insurance in Switzerland 

What about the supplemental insurance?

This type of insurance offers certain benefits that KVG / LaMal covers only partly, or not at all. This includes complementary treatments such as:

  • Memberships or passes for gyms and swimming pools.
  • Home nursing services and domestic help
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Medical accessories and devices
  • Emergency transport and transfer transport as well as rescue and salvage costs
  • Cost of dental treatment, corrective dentistry and maxillofacial surgery
  • Wellness services such as massage therapy

Additionally, it may cover alternative medicine treatments and psychotherapy performed by therapists without medical training. 

The cost of the supplementary insurance may vary from one company to another and is likely to be limited to a maximum amount you can spend per calendar year.

You can take out this policy from any of the dozens of insurance carriers in Switzerland — not necessarily the one where you have your basic coverage.

And unlike the compulsory coverage, there are no deductibles for supplementary insurance.

Can anyone in Switzerland buy supplemental insurance?

Depending on your medical history and current health, it may be difficult or expensive.

While insurance companies must offer the same obligatory KVG / LaMal  coverage to everyone, regardless of health status, carriers can deny supplemental benefits to people deemed ‘at risk’.

This includes those with pre-existing medical conditions or history of repeated treatments.

So if you are relatively healthy and have no chronic illnesses necessitating frequent treatments, you will not have a problem getting supplemental coverage.

But if you have a record of illnesses, your pre-existing conditions may be excluded from coverage, or else the premium might be very high.

To see what your chances are of getting these additional perks, and how much they would cost, you can go on some insurance sites and fill out the questionnaires, such as here and here.

EXPLAINED: How to change your health insurance carrier in Switzerland and save money