1 October 2020, text: Leo Wehrli, Sandra Biraghi, photo: Envato
Being involved in an accident or a breakdown is never pleasant. If you are, it’s important to keep a cool head. Play it safe by following these tips and keeping the most important emergency numbers handy. Your insurance company will help you with the next steps.
Secure the (accident) site and get an overview: switch on your hazard lights and dipped headlights and put up your warning triangle. If someone is injured, provide help if necessary and alert the rescue services (144), the police (117) or, if there is a fire, the fire brigade (118).
If it’s just a case of damage to property, fill in the European accident report. This is a standardized form that you can also obtain from your insurance company. The report must be signed by all parties involved in a claim. Only sign if you agree on how the accident happened and where the responsibilities lie. Otherwise, it is advisable to inform the police.
While still at the scene of the accident you can call Helvetia’s claims specialists for help on +41 58 280 30 00. They will recommend a suitable car repair shop or organize a replacement vehicle.
If you’ve taken out the additional Assistance policy, you’ll be covered for the costs involved in a vehicle breakdown, such as the breakdown service, towing service and also legal protection costs.
Once you’ve reported your claim, you’ll receive individual care from your insurance company. If you caused an accident, the insurance company will establish on the basis of the facts of the specific case whether your actions as the driver constitute “negligence” or “gross negligence”. Drivers who fail to observe the most elementary traffic rules, regulations or behaviour are deemed to be guilty of gross negligence. This includes, for example, crossing safety lines or failing to stop at a red traffic light.
Grossly negligent behaviour can result in a reduction of benefits for the driver under comprehensive cover or even recourse from the liability cover. You can protect yourself against the possible financial consequences of this right of recourse by taking out the appropriate additional cover under your car insurance.
As a driver, it pays not to be involved in any accidents: Helvetia has its own no-claims bonus system for each of its basic cover options: liability, comprehensive, partially comprehensive and parking damage. Classification is based on the age of the policyholder or driver. For accident-free driving, you will be rewarded annually by an additional bonus level unless you have already reached the maximum bonus level.
The downside of the no-claims bonus system is that if you make a claim, you will be downgraded by four bonus levels the following year. You can avoid this risk by taking out bonus protection cover. With this cover, the first claim you make each year under each form of basic cover will leave your bonus untouched. With BonusschutzPLUS cover, your bonus is left untouched however many claims you make during a given observation period. Worth knowing: The “observation period” is not the calendar year, but runs from 1 September each year to 31 August the following year. So a claim made in March does not fall in the same period as a subsequent claim made seven months later in October. To take a specific example: a claim made in March 2020 will affect the 2021 premium year, but a claim made in October 2020 will only affect your premiums from 2022 onwards.
When you take out your car insurance, consider the financial consequences of a claim in the event of an accident or breakdown and decide whether you’re prepared to bear those consequences yourself. You can also adjust your insurance cover to changes in your needs at any time.