Civil liability (CL) car insurance simply explained

Does your car insurance really cover all the risks you face daily on the road? If not, in case something goes wrong, it might cost you a pretty penny. 

In order to avoid that, we prepared you an article in the form of a menu, to be read in its entirety or point by point. Just like a nice meal, a good car insurance is a three-stage composition. 

What is civil liability car insurance? 

As explained above, it is a cover that is required for you to be allowed to drive with your own car. 

It works just as the private civil liability insurance. It protects you against physical, material and immaterial damages you involuntarily caused to another road user. 

More specifically, it covers two things: 

  • Material damage caused to a third person’s vehicle in the context of a road accident or a parking mistake. 
  • Bodily injury to the victim or victims of the said accident. 

In both cases, physical and material damage of the insured person are not included. 

The two important clauses in a vehicle CL contract 

Even though the civil liability insurance, as a mandatory contract, is rather standardised, there are a few variations between each insurance: 

  • The amount covered. Though the legal minimum in Switzerland is 5 million CHF, some companies offer up to 100 million CHF in cover for a tiny price difference. 
  • Serious errors. According to the law, your vehicle CL insurance can make you participate in costs incurred if you erred seriously. It will do so based on the situation, but you should be sure to know about your insurance’s policy on this topic in order to avoid any bad surprises in such an instance. Insurance’s definition of a “serious error” is quite broad.  

Let’s use an example. My first car was a Saxo 1.1i X Citroën with the monstruous power of 75 horsepower. I used it to go to university. As a student, my finances were very limited, to put it mildly. I therefore took out a simple car CL.

Thankfully, Mr. Calm and Ms. Tranquille’s honeymoon made it that it did not have any problems. That being said, imagine me, Noé, a young 18-year-old driver in his little town car. Or any other young driver you know. 

I try to type “Geneva” on my GPS but I’m having a hard time finding the “a”. I focus on the keyboard and, when briefly letting the road out of my sight, I hit another vehicle. 

The impact is not very violent but violent enough for the driver, struck from behind, to hit his head on the windshield. The car is in a bad shape. We have to call an ambulance and the police. 

The damages are the following: 

  • Damage to a third party’s car body: 14,000 CHF. 
  • Hospitalisation costs: 30,000 CHF
  • Income loss of the driver who is not at fault: 6,000 CHF
  • CL damage amount: 50,000 CHF

Because it is my fault, my insurance turns against me and asks for a 20% contribution. This is called a recursive action. Result: I have to pay 10,000 CHF out of my pocket and that is without counting the material damage to my car.

Noé explains to us the coverages of the civil liability car insurance

How much does a car CL cost? 

The civil liability insurance is the cheapest of the three vehicle insurance alternatives.

Its cost strongly varies based on several criteria including:  

  • The driver’s age 
  • His previous history
  • The cost of the vehicle 
  • The kilometres travelled per year 
  • The location it is usually parked 
  • If you are the main driver or if you often lend it 
  • Etc.  

Each company sets its own criteria and has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

Be careful with price comparators!

I would like to digress for a moment and talk to you about the very important topic of online price comparators. While they can turn out to be useful for getting a general view, the latter will always remain approximative. Indeed, comparators present two major issues: 

  • Unlike qualified and personalised advice, they do not take your wishes, personal situation or lifestyle into account. In short, what makes you unique. 
  • They do not apply any form of discount whatsoever, nor do they consider negotiation. Though they will show you the cheapest price on the market, it will always be higher than what you could actually have gotten, had you directly dealt with an insurer or, even better, a specialised advisor. 

Price comparators are good, personalised advice is better. A lot better.

At how much is the car CL franchise price set? 

The franchise depends on the contract signed and your age.

In addition to the car insurance premium, it is necessary to choose a deductible which will be chosen most of the time according to the age of the main driver
  • Less than 25 years-old: between 1,000 and 2,000 CHF. 
  • More than 25 years old but young driver: between 500 and 1,000 CHF. 
  • More than 25 years-old and experienced: no franchise. 

The franchises for experienced drivers can be set in a quite flexible manner. It is very important to take into account the situation in its entirety in order to avoid having to pay high fees in case of an incident. 

The starter was tasty but you are left wanting more, right? So here is the main course: the partial casco and if you would rather skip this part and move on to dessert, or, in other words, full casco here it is

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