Insurances for home owners

Get a brief overview of the most important insurances for buyers and those who own their own home.

by Gergina Hristova

Anyone who buys or builds property needs insurances.

When it comes to your own home, building insurance is mandatory in most cantons. By purchasing this type of policy before construction begins, you can be certain that coverage is in effect even during construction.

Building insurances can be very different. Building insurance should in any event cover fire and natural hazards (high water, floods, storms, hail, avalanches, snow load, falling rocks, rockslides, landslides). It's also recommended to have coverage against damage through water (i.e. by liquids from pipes and systems).

Also recommended is a policy which covers, in addition to those risks already mentioned, what in the insurance branch are referred to as «running fixed expenses». For example, if your house burns down and is uninhabitable, under certain circumstances you must look for a rental apartment to tide you over. However, the mortgage payments and other fixed overhead costs continue to be due. In this way you can avoid a double burden.

Construction insurance

When undertaking a construction project (new construction/refurbishment/renovation), in addition to building insurance it's recommended to purchase principal's liability insurance and builder's risk insurance. However, these insurances are often already in effect through the architect or general contractor.

There are countless building insurances, but they're not all alike. The extent of coverage must be examined precisely because the differences are often in the fine print. Lower premiums, upon a second closer look, indicate clear differences of coverage which could make the decision for the appropriate insurance easier.

For example, some building insurance includes a ceiling for the coverage of additional costs. In other words, if a ceiling unexpectedly collapses during construction, the construction schedule can get very tight. To make up for the loss of time, overtime is approved or extra workers are put on the job. This results in additional costs which, depending on the building project, could be quite high.

Although purchasing principal's liability insurance is not mandatory, it's highly recommended. How quickly can a hammer fall from the scaffolding and hit a car or perhaps even a person? And then, when nobody wants to claim that he did it, the building owner must assume the responsibility, which can become an expensive proposition.

Insurances after construction

Following construction or during the purchase of residential property, purchasing separate building insurance and building liability insurance as well as homeowners insurance (private liability and household contents) is recommended.

Of these, private liability insurance is extremely important. That's because if in winter an icicle falls from the roof onto a pedestrian or the postman falls on your icy garden path or forecourt and injures himself, you as the homeowner can be held responsible.

With household contents insurance you should be sure to ask how far the coverage should go. For example, do you want the contents of your freezer to be insured in the event of an extended electricity outage? Or would you like, for instance, a type of comprehensive insurance on hobby equipment such as your bicycle?

All insurances from one company?

There's nothing that says you must absolutely purchase all your insurances from a single company. It makes sense at least not to distribute all the individual policies among too many insurance companies. For instance, it pays off to purchase all your building insurances (principal's liability insurance and builder's risk insurance) from the same company. Then, in the event of damage, only one insurance company is involved, which saves time and nerves.

Otherwise you should compare prices and especially the services

On the next page you can read more about insurances which can protect your income (life insurance, disability insurance, mortgage insurance).