12 April 2013, text: Hansjörg Ryser, photo: iStock
The old flat is cleared out and sparkling clean. Now, you just have to hand over the keys and head off to your new abode. 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 is cause for groans instead of cheers. 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 coverage. Both types of insurance cover moves made within Switzerland.
Private liability insurance covers damages sustained by third parties. In other words: if you cause damages in your rental flat that go beyond normal wear and tear, private liability insurance will cover it. However, the landlord has to prove that the damages were caused while you were living in the flat.
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by having an inspection report prepared when you move in. You can check it against the list provided by the landlord when you return the keys. Obviously, if the wash basin already had a crack when you moved in, you won’t be liable for it. Nor will you have to pay for damages that fall under normal wear and tear. This includes worn carpets, properly filled dowel holes in the wall or scuff marks from hanging up pictures. After all, you pay for a flat so that you can live in it.
The story is different with the cat door you installed. 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 scratches that your animals put on the front door. The same is true for burn holes, water stains from your plants or the charming decorations that your children have put on the walls. 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.
If you help someone move and damage something in the process, you only have to pay the current value of the damaged item. However, insurance carriers can impose caps for these kinds of favours or reduce the extent of their liability. In other words, be careful when moving the good china.
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. Use our household contents check after the move to see whether the sum insured is still correct or needs to be adjusted. You can even include e-bikes in your insurance.
The third type of insurance that many tenants need is security deposit insurance. Landlords generally demand a security deposit of up to three months’ rent for a rental flat. Helvetia offers insurance that can replace a security deposit account with a bank. This frees up cash that tenants can put toward furnishing their new home or making other purchases.
Besides these three basic forms of insurance, it may be a good idea to also consider legal expenses insurance, which can step in if you have a dispute with the landlord or moving company.