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Liability & law

Theft: what and when does insurance pay?

The shock runs deep when you come home to find that your home has been burglarized. Or that your cell phone and wallet are suddenly missing. What steps can you take so that at least your material damage is covered from a theft or burglary?

25 September 2015, text: Jan Söntgerath, photo: istock

A man steals something from a woman's handbag.
You’re well covered if you include theft in your household contents insurance or take out valuables insurance.

If you’ve had something stolen, you know the follow-up can be exhausting: emotional stress, time-consuming legwork and the loss of a high-priced item. Here are a few pointers so you can be confident that at least your financial damage will be covered by insurance.

Not all theft is the same

So, how do you define theft? In its basic household contents insurance, Helvetia distinguishes between three different types of theft: burglary, robbery and simple theft. Burglary is when a perpetrator forcibly enters a building or breaks open a container located inside. Burglary does not, however, include theft from aircraft, watercraft or motor vehicles. Robbery refers to theft with the threat or use of force, which also includes theft by snatching. Simple theft is everything that does not fall under burglary or robbery. This catch-all category includes pickpocketing and confidence tricks as well as theft of items from parked cars or buildings without the use of violence.

What does household contents insurance pay?

Helvetia household contents insurance pays theft victims the “replacement value” of stolen or destroyed items; that is, the amount it costs to buy a new, equivalent item. In addition, it covers any repair costs, for example for broken windows, and after a burglary or robbery, costs of up to 2,000 francs for the psychological aftercare of the victim.

The situation is different if money assets such as cash, credit or debit cards have been stolen. For a burglary and robbery, these losses are covered in the Helvetia basic household contents insurance up to 20 percent of the agreed on amount of household contents insurance up to a maximum of 5,000 francs. Money assets are not covered in simple theft, however.

In all categories of theft, a per-occurrence deductible is subtracted from the total loss. The deductible is generally CHF 200, or CHF 100 for youth insurance.

Special case “simple theft away from home”

It is often the case the thefts do not happen in your own four walls, but rather when you are travelling. The most widespread thefts are bicycle thefts, confidence tricks or the theft of items from parked vehicles. Skiing and snowboarding equipment is frequently stolen in the winter. You can protect yourself from these eventualities by including an adequate sum insured for “simple theft out-and-about” in your household contents insurance. Then, if your cell phone is stolen on the train or your car door is jimmied open while you’re at the grocery store, the household contents insurance will reimburse you for the damage up to the amount stipulated in the policy.

More insurance coverage is well worth it

If you have a lot of jewellery or expensive items, you can include supplementary “special risks jewellery” insurance in your household contents insurance. Keep in mind, however, that the maximum compensation is CHF 20,000 per claim. For particularly valuable items, for example art, music instruments or technical equipment, it is recommended to take out valuables insurance. In addition to theft and robbery, valuables are also insured against unforeseen and sudden destruction and damage as well as against loss and other disappearances.

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