The no-claims bonus system is a premium-level system that practically every Swiss car insurer uses to calculate its premiums. When you take out third-party and casco insurance (partial casco or comprehensive insurance) for your car, you are assigned in each case to a particular bonus level. The lower the bonus level, the lower the premium you pay. The amount of your premium depends not only on the type of car you drive, but also on you, the driver.
Your assignment to a particular bonus level for each insurance type is not definitive and can be changed from year to year. Claims-free years of driving result in assignment to lower bonus levels. These serve to lower your premium until you reach the lowest bonus level – at Helvetia, bonus level 0. After that, your premium remains constant, as long as no benefits are paid out for claims.
Unless you have taken out Bonus Protection, every time you make a third-party or collision claim and receive benefits, you will be shifted up four levels in the no-claims bonus system. That results in higher premiums in subsequent years. If you do not make any claims after that, you will be assigned to a better bonus level each year.
The observation period is from 1 September to 31 August. That means the claims are not counted on a calendar-year basis. So, if you make a claim in March 2019 and another in October 2019, they will be assigned to different observation periods. The claim made in March will increase your premium for 2020. The claim in October 2019 will not affect your premium until 2021.
Even after years of driving safely, it only takes a moment of inattention for you to have an accident with another car. Your frustration at having had an accident is bad enough; having your premium raised as well only adds insult to injury. That is what Helvetia thinks, too, and why it offers you Bonus Protection. Under this supplementary insurance, one claim per observation period has no effect on your premium. Anyone interested in really playing it safe can take out Bonus Protection PLUS additional insurance: your bonus level is retained regardless of the number of claims you make per year.