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Professorships Department


In Switzerland, there are few areas of life that you cannot insure. When you move to Switzerland, the most important thing is to know that four types of insurance are compulsory. They are:

  • Health insurance
  • Accident insurance
  • Motor vehicle insurance (if applicable)
  • Building insurance (if applicable)

The following types of insurance are voluntary, but are worth looking into depending on your circumstances and the type of cover you need:

  • Liability insurance
  • Household contents and valuables insurance
  • Supplementary health insurance
  • Voluntary pension plans (e.g. life insurance or a Pillar 3a (personal pension) plan)

Health Insurance

There are two forms of health insurance in Switzerland:

  • Mandatory healthcare insurance (also referred to as basic insurance)
  • Voluntary supplementary insurance (e.g. additional cover for alternative medicine or for additional services in the event of hospitalization)

The benefits paid under mandatory healthcare insurance are laid down in binding form in the Federal Health Insurance Act (KVG), and are the same whichever health insurance provider you choose. The benefits paid under supplementary insurance policies are governed by the Federal Insurance Contract Act (VVG), and vary from provider to provider.

Compulsory Insurance

Each person who comes to live in Switzerland must take out mandatory healthcare insurance within three months of taking up residence. All members of a family, adults and children alike, are insured individually. Individuals who are ordinarily resident abroad but who have a residence permit that is valid for more than three months, or who cross the border to work in Switzerland, must also take out health insurance.

Only a few groups of people may be exempted from this obligation, subject to an application, which is decided by the cantonal department of health.

Free Choice

Insurees have a free choice of health insurance provider for their basic and supplementary insurance. Health insurers are obliged to accept everyone into their basic insurance schemes, regardless of their age or state of health, and without any provisos or waiting periods. Things work differently were supplementary insurance is concerned. Here, health insurance providers can exercise their discretion in deciding who to accept, and who not.


In the event of illness, childbirth and – unless a person is already insured by their employer – accidents, health insurers pay certain benefits which are laid down in law. Anyone who works in Switzerland will generally be insured by their employer against work-related and non-work-related accidents. Providing insurance is taken out within the prescribed three-month period, insurance cover will be backdated to the date on which residence in Switzerland began – although that means that premiums are also backdated.

Despite identical benefits, premiums (the contributions that policyholders pay) vary considerably depending on where you live, your age and the insurance model you choose. It is therefore worth comparing premiums.

Accident Insurance

Compulsory accident insurance under the Federal Accident Insurance Act (UVG) is personal insurance which addresses the financial consequences of work-related and non-work-related accidents and occupational illnesses. The benefits it pays out help to make up for the loss that arises if the insurees have an accident or develop a medical condition as the result of their job.

Staff at UZH are covered by compulsory insurance against work-related accidents, and also covered for non-work-related accidents if they work eight or more hours per week.