Building, water-damage and construction insurance
Even in those cantons where building insurance is not mandatory for homeowners, it really is a must. This also applies increasingly to water-damage insurance and - during new construction, renovations or additions - to construction insurance.
Building insurance: an absolute must
In the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Geneva, Obwalden, Schwyz, Ticino, Uri und Valais, building insurance is offered by private suppliers. In all other cantons in Switzerland, damage due to natural forces - together with damage due to fires - can be insured through the cantonal building insurance agencies.
In most cantons, building insurance is mandatory; that's not the case only in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Geneva, Ticino and Valais. Purchasing a policy, however, is absolutely recommended. That's because the building insurance covers existential risks and means additional security and peace of mind when dealing with mortgage holders such as banks.
Calculate the amount of coverage
Make certain you are not underinsured, otherwise problems could arise in the event of damage. Pay attention when calculating the amount of coverage that you consider not only the building shell itself but also the many installations such as built-in closets, heaters, bathtubs, window shutters, permanently laid floor coverings, air-conditioning and central heating systems, built-in kitchens, sanitary fixtures and electrical systems.
Likewise be sure to take into account auxiliary buildings such as a garage, pool, garden shed, etc., which are located on the insured property. Experts at building insurance companies estimate the insured value on site. If a building is well maintained, the amount of coverage corresponds to the replacement value. By the way, when doing a renovation (e.g. a new kitchen), don't forget to do a revaluation.
Water-damage insurance: recommended
If a pipe breaks in the building and puts everything under water, the resulting damage to the building is insured only if you have purchased water-damage insurance. That's also the case if heavy rain makes its way through the roof or if during heavy precipitation the groundwater rises rapidly and causes damage to the house.
However, coverage and premiums vary with each insurance company. Compare what they have to offer, also read the terms and conditions carefully. Water-damage insurance is optional. As a result of ever more frequent heavy precipitation, though, it's very worthwhile.
Tip: don't forget construction insurance
New construction, additions and renovations must be registered for coverage before beginning work, and specifically with both the company writing the building insurance (construction period insurance) as well as with the company writing the private insurance (e.g. contractor's all risks insurance and principal's liability insurance). In this way, you protect yourself against unusual risks during the construction phase.