Understanding bonus-malus car insurance in Switzerland


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The calculation of a car insurance premium in Switzerland takes into account the bonus or malus accumulated by the insured. In this article you'll discover a decryption of the bonus malus system in Switzerland. It rewards good drivers, enabling them to pay less for their insurance. On the other hand, reporting a claim can have a considerable impact on the price paid. Fortunately, there are a few tips for limiting the impact of a claim on the price of your car insurance.

Assurance auto bonus malus: how does it work?

The bonus and malus are accumulated, depending on the claims potentially reported to the insurer.

What is a malus in car insurance?

The malus is a kind of extra premium to be paid, when the insurer has reason to consider that its customer is at risk. In car insurance, the risk is shared between the various drivers insured. The more factors a driver presents, making it possible to presume that he may be responsible for a claim, the more he will pay.
It is thus considered that the declaration of a claim generally leads to a increase of 10%, on the price of the premium. The more at-fault claims the policyholder makes, the higher the deductible.
Thus, it's essential to be careful on the road, to minimize the number of claims and the risk of incurring a deductible.

What is a bonus in car insurance?

Inversely, a bonus is a way of rewarding drivers who report no claims. The insured will benefit from a reduction in the premium to be paid, proportional to the number of years spent without declaring an at-fault claim.
This is also why young drivers pay more for insurance. They haven't yet accumulated any bonuses, enabling them to reduce the cost of the premium.

What is the degree of premium?

The quotient applied to the premium, enabling the amount paid by the insured to be determined, depends on the degree of premium. This takes into account the bonus or malus accumulated by the insured.
It's important to stress that these are not the only factors taken into account by the insurance company. The age of the insured, or the number of years of driving experience will also be taken into account. Once again, it's a question of measuring the risk taken by the insurer in offering you a contract. A person with little experience on the road is considered a riskier profile.

How does the insurer calculate the car insurance premium?

The insurer will first calculate what is known as the base premium. The degree of bonus will then be applied, which can significantly affect the final price advertised to the insured.

The vehicle study

The base premium is calculated according to the vehicle's characteristics. This means taking into account the characteristics of the vehicle to find out how much the insurer might have to pay out in the event of a claim. Among the factors taken into account are:
  • The market value of the vehicle,
  • The power of the engine,
  • The place where the vehicle is parked at night,
  • The distance covered by the insured, over an insurance year,
  • Whether the insured owns or leases the vehicle.
So, the more powerful a car is, the greater the risk of loss will be considered. Also, when the vehicle's market value is high, the insured may have to pay out large sums in the event of a claim. This will have an impact on the basic premium for Swiss car insurance.

The choice of options

In Switzerland, civil liability is compulsory, to cover third parties in the event of an at-fault claim triggered by the insured. This ensures compensation for material damage and bodily injury caused, regardless of one's financial means.
In addition to this compulsory coverage, the insured can choose to take out apartial casco, to guarantee against external elements. The casco collision, meanwhile, provides coverage in the event of a collision for which he or she is responsible.
To this can be added many other options, such as assistance, car insuranceparking or even insurance for transported objects. The more comprehensive a contract, the more expensive the insurance is likely to be.

Studying the insured's profile

Next, the insurer will study the insured's profile. This is where the insured's age, length of driving license and any previous claims are taken into account.
This analysis helps determine whether a profile is more or less at risk.
Other factors can be taken into account, such as the insured's address. Customers living on the borders of other countries such as France and Germany, for example, may have to pay more, in anticipation of the possibility of a claim across the Swiss border.

The application of the bonus degree

Based on the insured's profile, malus and bonus, the bonus degree is determined. This is used to apply a quotient to the base premium. The closer the degree of bonus is to 1, the less the insured will pay.
As a rough guide, the percentage to be applied to the base premium is between 30 and 240%. This means that a person with a bonus at the maximum level will only have to pay 30% of the base premium. On the other hand, someone with a high malus will have to pay 240% of the base premium price, i.e. more than 2 times the base price.
Each insurance company has its own scale. Don't hesitate to ask before taking out a policy.

How to calculate your bonus level?

To find out your bonus level, simply ask your insurer. You can also calculate it according to your insurer's scale. All you have to do is assess the degree of bonus applied according to the number of claims reported in previous years.

Bonus protection: a useful option

Bonus protection is an option that can make all the difference to the price of your premium. Most insurers offer, as an option, to protect the bonus of their policyholders, if they report no more than one claim per year. This gives customers a kind of right to make mistakes on the road, without being charged a substantial premium surcharge.
Some insurers even offer lifetime bonus protection, once the maximum level has been reached.

What happens to the bonus if you change insurance companies?

The bonus is retained from one insurance company to another. However, the scale may differ, as the impact on the price is not the same from one company to another.

Can the insurance company refuse a driver with a high malus?

Some insurance companies refuse drivers with too high a malus. In this case, you'll have to get several quotes from different car insurance companies in Switzerland, to find the one that will accept a profile with a high malus.
You should also be aware that when the contract expires, or when a claim is made, the insurer may decide to no longer insure its customer. This is often the case in the event of serious misconduct on the part of the insured, leading to a claim.
Antoine Léger
Updated on: 30.01.2024Written by Antoine LégerHead of non-life insurance department at Comparea.
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