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Insurance moves when you do

If you're moving, you'll have your hands full. Insurance is the last thing you'll want to be thinking about. But it's comforting to know who will pay if your best china arrives at your new home in shards or your old landlord sends you a hefty repair bill after you leave.

15 September 2018, text: Hansjörg Ryser/Natascha Fabian, photo: Helvetia

A young woman unpacks pictures from cartons of reins.
New home, new start – you don’t want to think about insurance when you move. But it’s good to know it moves with you.

The old flat is empty and the cleaners have left it sparkling – all you need to do is hand over the keys. But what if the landlord notes one defect after another on the inspection report when you move out? Your indoor plants left water stains on the beautiful parquet flooring, the wash basin is cracked, and the cat flap you installed in the balcony door didn’t go down well. So what is damage and what is normal wear and tear?

This is where private liability insurance comes in. Just like household contents insurance it should be part of every household's basic insurance protection. Both types of insurance cover moves made within Switzerland.

Avoid trouble with an inventory

Private liability insurance covers damage sustained by third parties. In other words: if you cause damage in your rental flat that goes beyond normal wear and tear, your private liability insurance will cover it. However, the landlord has to prove that the damage was caused while you were living in the flat.

Consequently you can save yourself a lot of bother by having an inventory done when you move in.You can check this against the list provided by the landlord when you return the keys. Obviously, if the wash basin already had a crack in it when you moved in, you won't be liable. Nor will you have to pay for damage that falls under "normal wear and tear". This includes fade marks on the wallpaper from pictures, worn carpets and properly filled dowel holes in the wall.

The cat flap needs to go

The cat flap you installed comes into a different category, however: it's considered "excessive wear and tear". If you installed it without your landlord's permission, you will have to pay for a new balcony door to return the property to its original condition. You also have to repair the scratches that your animals have made on the front door. Note: you only have to pay the current value of damaged items, not their replacement value. That's the basic assumption made by your private liability insurer, to whom you can forward your landlord's bill.

Household contents are worth a lot

A move is a good opportunity to review the sum insured and adjust it if necessary. Household contents insurance is a prime example. It protects your assets against fire, natural disasters, theft and glass breakage. Unlike private liability insurance, it pays out the replacement value of your items. Supplementary coverage can be taken out for other assets such as jewellery or your new e-bike. Use our household contents calculator after the move to see whether the sum insured is still correct or needs to be adjusted.

Here are five tips you should definitely follow when you move:

  1. Do the handover of your old rental property yourself, even if you are not contractually obliged to be there. That way you can make sure you are not held liable for damage you didn't cause.
  2. Note down any damage to or issues with the new property on an inventory.
  3. Register with your new local authorities within the specified timeframe.
  4. Make sure you check your household contents sum insured and adjust it if necessary.
  5. Write down the gas and electricity meter readings for the new property.
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