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For homeowners: what insurance do I need?

Apr 13, 2020.

What if? Your house catches fire or a tile from your roof injures someone. Or you become unable to work and can’t pay your mortgage interest. We don’t like thinking about the worst that can happen. But if we do, we have nothing to worry about in an emergency.

Homeownership covers a number of different situations: maybe you own a terraced house that you rent out. Or the apartment that you live in. Maybe you even own an office building? Different starting positions require different forms of insurance. These are the most important:


Household contents: how to protect your personal possessions

A fire, a burst water pipe or theft can cause a lot of damage to your home. Both to the building itself and to your possessions. Household contents insurance covers damage to the personal belongings of everyone living in the same household as the policyholder. This includes TV, clothes and furniture, as well as pets, rented items and things visitors bring with them when they visit you. These claims are generally covered:

  • Natural hazards (hail, storm etc.)
  • Fire damage
  • Water damage
  • Theft (including skis, bikes etc.)
  • Glass breakage


Buildings insurance: when your property is damaged

This insurance pays if damage occurs to your building. The following kinds of damage to buildings are covered:

  • Fire (including lightning, explosion etc.)
  • Natural hazards (flooding, avalanches etc.)
  • Water damage
  • Glass breakage
  • Damage resulting from burglary
  • Damage by rodents, malicious damage


In most cantons, public providers of buildings insurance have a monopoly on fire insurance. So you are not free to choose your own provider. The exceptions are the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Geneva, Obwalden, Schwyz, Ticino, Uri and Valais.


Liability: for private individuals and building owners

If you live in the flat or terraced house you own, personal liability insurance will provide all the protection you need. As the owner of a multi-family home or condominium, you also require buildings liability insurance.


Personal liability: Comes into play when you cause damage to other people or things – whether as a homeowner or as a private individual. You can take out personal liability cover for the whole family at the same time. Depending on your lifestyle, you may want to include additional cover for horse riding, model aircraft or driving other people’s cars.


Buildings liability: If a tile falls from the roof of your multi-family home and lands on a car, or if the postman slips on ice in your driveway. This insurance takes care of third-party claims for damages in relation to your building or land.


Death and loss of earnings: so you don’t lose your home

Death: When you buy your own home, you take on a commitment that remains in place after you die. Those you leave behind will receive a lump sum from the death benefits insurance with which they can pay off the mortgage. That way, your relatives can stay in the family home, with no financial problems to add to their suffering at this already difficult time.


Loss of earnings: If you are no longer able to work following an illness or accident, you can expect a loss of earnings. Then you might not be able to pay your mortgage interest. Income protection insurance helps close these gaps in your finances. It proves particularly valuable if, like most policyholders, you find yourself unable to work due to illness.


Good to know


79% of people in Switzerland who are incapable of working are unable to do so due to illness, and only 21% due to accident. If you fall ill, social insurance will pay no more than 60–70% of your salary. This is where income protection insurance covers the rest. If you have an accident, the social insurance benefits will usually be sufficient.


Legal protection insurance: when you run into trouble

Many things change when you become a homeowner. Not least the legal situation. The situations that lead to legal disputes involving homeowners are the same every time. You suddenly have to deal with neighbours’ rights, employment law or criminal law. Legal protection insurance helps you assert your rights as a homeowner – with expertise and money.


From household contents to death, from liability to legal protection: as a homeowner, it’s a good idea to plan your insurance cover early on. The experts at Generali will be happy to advise you and put together a package of insurance tailored to your needs.

The authors

  • Nadia Abdelli, Expert Product Manager Life, Generali Versicherungen
  • Sibylle Dürst, Senior Expert Product Manager Non-Life, Generali Versicherungen