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Insurance in Switzerland

Most social insurances are compulsory. They allow workers and their families who have contributed on their wages to have a certain income in the event of not being able to work, illness or unemployment, for example. They are mostly managed by the employer (except health insurance!).

The Swiss social security system includes several types of insurance:

  • Old-age and survivors’ insurance, disability insurance and supplementary federal benefits (AVS, AI and PC: 1st pillar).
  • Occupational pension (LPP: 2nd pillar).
  • Allowances for loss of earnings in the event of military service, civil service, civil protection, maternity allowance and paternity leave (APG).
  • Unemployment insurance (AC).
  • Family allowances (LAFam).
  • Health and accident insurance (LA-Mal and LAA).

In the canton of Vaud, social insurance agencies (AAS) are at your disposal to inform you and guide you on your rights and obligations in terms of insurance. Several agencies per region are available. To find the one that corresponds to your home, consult the following link.

Find a social insurance agency near you

You can also contact your employer directly.

I have a job

Health insurance

Basic health insurance (LAMal)

Health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland. You are required to take one no later than 3 months after your arrival. If you do not do so within 3 months, you will be charged additional costs. The insurance will take effect at the start of taking up residence. It is advisable to do this as soon as possible so as not to have to pay 3 months at the same time.

A distinction exists between basic health insurance, which is compulsory, and supplementary health insurance, which is not compulsory and covers other medical costs such as travel medical expenses, alternative medicine costs, private or semi-private hospitalisations, etc. There are several health insurers in the canton of Vaud, choose one freely. The latter has the obligation to accept you for compulsory health insurance, whatever your age and state of health.
 
As an insured person, you will pay a monthly insurance premium which does not depend on your income, but which varies according to the amount of your deductible. However, depending on your income and the size of your household, you may be eligible for a subsidy (see below). The deductible is part of your medical expenses that you will have to pay in addition to the premiums. Depending on the formula you have chosen, the deductible is an amount between CHF 300 and 2,500, which will have to be paid by you each year, as a contribution to the treatment costs. Once this amount is reached, your health insurance will cover 90% of the costs that exceed your annual deductible. The remaining 10% will be your responsibility up to an annual amount of CHF 700.
 
Regarding the deductible, you have the choice of paying CHF 2,500, CHF 2,000, CHF 1,500, CHF 1,000, CHF 500, or CHF 300 per year. However, it must be taken into account that the lower your annual contribution (deductible), the higher your monthly insurance contribution (premium). It is therefore necessary to ensure that the amount of the deductible chosen is adapted to your finances, but also to your state of health. If you have to undergo regular medical treatment which incurs significant costs each year, a small deductible may be more appropriate.
On the other hand, if you are in good health and rarely go to the doctor, a high deductible could be more interesting. In the latter case, however, it would be important to have sufficient financial reserves to meet unforeseen medical costs: suddenly having to pay CHF 2500 may constitute a risk of indebtedness.
 
Insurance companies operate according to two very distinct systems with regard to the payment of medical costs. The first system is the so-called “third-party guarantor”: the insured persons pay their bills themselves and are reimbursed by their fund, once the annual deductible has been reached. The second system is the so-called “third-party payment” system: the fund receives the invoice directly and pays certain invoices from healthcare providers. The insured persons only pay the deductible and their participation in the costs. It is important to take into account these two different systems of coverage of medical costs when choosing which insurance to contract, so that it is in accordance with your finances.
 
Premium calculator 2021
 
The premium conditions change every year and it is possible to change health insurance by sending a cancellation letter by registered mail before the end of November. It is essential to have paid to your current health insurer all the invoices due (premiums and participations) on 31 December in order to be able to change health insurer the following year.
 
Guidelines: premiums and change of health fund

Health insurance in case of pregnancy and newborn

During the follow-up of the pregnancy and in the event of health problems, the deductible costs are not your responsibility from the 13th week of pregnancy until the 8th week after the date of birth of your child.

Pregnancy – health insurance benefits

It is essential to register new-borns with health insurance during your pregnancy and until the third month following the birth.
 
Medical insurance for your baby

Termination of health insurance in the event of departure

If you leave Switzerland, you are obliged to terminate your health insurance. To do this, you must request a certificate of departure from your municipality and present it to your insurer so that it can terminate your insurance contract.

Supplementary insurance

If you want your health insurance to cover benefits that are not covered by basic insurance, there are a wide variety of supplementary insurances. For example, you can benefit from more outpatient medical services (correction of teeth for children, complementary medical treatments such as osteopathy), have more comfort, freely choose your doctor during a hospital stay, etc.

Supplementary insurance is not social insurance and is not compulsory. A key difference to basic insurance is that the funds are not required to accept everyone. They can also set the premiums according to your age, your state of health, your sex and require that you complete a health questionnaire before being accepted.
 
The conditions of your affiliation to the desired insurance therefore depend on your answers concerning your health. Fill in the questionnaire carefully, because the health insurance company can later reconsider the conditions of insurance, or even your affiliation to this insurance, if the data you provided was incomplete.
 
If you wish to take out one or more supplementary insurance policies for your child, it is best to do so before the child is born. In the event of an announcement before the birth, the health insurers often guarantee to affiliate the child unconditionally and without a health questionnaire. Specialists in budget management generally advise that children be frequently insured for dental treatment (correction of teeth), as these treatments can be very expensive. It is also worth concluding such insurance in time. After a certain age, the health insurers require a dental examination beforehand.
Supplementary insurance often offers a range of benefits and is not limited to a single benefit. Therefore, if you decide to take out supplementary insurance, check that you are not double insured for the same benefit.

Accident insurance (LAA)

The purpose of the LAA is to cover the economic consequences of occupational or non-occupational accidents. Employees working more than 8 hours per week are insured by their employer against non-occupational accidents. Otherwise, this accident insurance must be taken out with your health insurer.

Subsidies (financial assistance)

If you have difficulty paying your premiums, the Office vaudois de l’assurance-maladie (OVAM) can help you and pay a subsidy to your health insurer. This amount depends on your income. The application must be submitted to the agency in your region of residence or online.
 

Office vaudois de l’assurance-maladie
Chemin de Mornex 40
1014 Lausanne
 
List of OVAM agencies by region

Practical information
The subsidies start at the time of the application, so you must apply as soon as your financial means decrease. Conversely, if you are entitled to subsidies and your financial situation improves, you must notify OVAM directly so as not to have to pay a bill retroactively.

Warning

Accident insurance must also be taken out, if you are not already covered by your employer’s accident insurance.

Three-pillar system and unemployment insurance

AVS, AI and federal supplementary benefits: 1st pillar

The old-age and survivors’ insurance (AVS) allows all persons residing in Switzerland to receive a basic income upon retirement.
 
Invalidity insurance (AI) covers damage to health that has an impact on earning capacity during a professional career.

For workers, part of the contributions to these insurances is deducted from the salary and the other part is paid by the employer. People who are not gainfully employed are also required to pay an annual contribution. The minimum contribution is set at CHF 496.
 
Supplementary benefits (PC) are provided to persons residing in Switzerland who receive an AVS or AI pension and whose income is not sufficient to cover basic needs. Foreigners must meet a few additional requirements. The filing of a PC application is free and is carried out with the social insurance agencies. The PC constitutes, together with the AVS and the AI, the first of the three pillars of our pension system.
 
An AVS and AI insurance certificate, presented in credit card format, is issued to anyone who works or pays contributions. This card provides proof that you are insured with the AVS/AI. It must be sent to each new employer and may be requested from you for other procedures.

Occupational pension: 2nd pillar

Occupational pension plans aim to enable people who have reached retirement age, survivors and disabled people to maintain an income. It works in addition to the AVS or AI pension (1st pillar).

It is compulsory for employees who receive more than CHF 21,330 per year and optional for the self-employed. All employers must insure their staff with the company’s provident institution and must cover at least half of the contributions.

Life insurance or individual savings: 3rd pillar

It is also possible, depending on your needs and your means, to contribute to life insurance (3rd pillar) with an insurance company or a private bank. The 3rd pillar can also be in the form of individual savings. 3rd pillar contributions can be deducted from your taxes up to a maximum annual amount, which can change from year to year.

Loss of earnings allowances (military service, maternity or paternity leave)

For each day of service in the Swiss army, civil protection or the Red Cross, as well as for maternity leave and the two-week paternity leave, you are entitled to “loss of earnings allowances” (APG).

This financial support will be paid to you by your employer if you are an employee or by the Vaud compensation fund if you do not carry out gainful activities.
 
For the self-employed – caisse cantonale vaudoise de compensation AVS

Unemployment insurance

Unemployment insurance is deducted from the wages of all workers. It allows you to receive compensation in the event that you leave or lose your job.

To be entitled to unemployment insurance, it is necessary to have worked at least 12 months in the 2 years preceding the application. In addition, in the case where the employee voluntarily leaves their job, penalties are provided for and the sum insured is less than in the case of a dismissal, which may involve several months of unpaid indemnities.

Warning

For Europeans who are nationals of an EU or EFTA Member State, under certain conditions, the use of supplementary benefits to the AVS or AI can be a reason for revocation of a residence permit obtained in the context of a stay without gainful activity.

For nationals of a third country, benefiting from supplementary benefits to the AVS or the AI can constitute an obstacle to a request for family reunification.

Insurance related to maternity and children

Maternity insurance

Female workers have the right, after childbirth, to maternity leave of at least 14 weeks.

  • During maternity leave, the worker is entitled to payment of 80% of her salary, in the form of daily allowances.
  • To receive maternity benefits, you must have been insured for the AVS during the 9 months preceding the birth and have worked for at least 5 months during this period. Periods of insurance and work in an EU/EFTA country are also taken into account. In certain circumstances, women who do not fulfil these conditions may receive a cantonal maternity allowance.

Child allowance

Swiss family policy also gives the right to family allowance (financial support) for each child. These allowances are paid by the employer, or, for people without gainful activity, by the Caisse de Compensation of the canton of Vaud. Child allowance is not paid automatically, but only on request.
 
Information concerning child allowance

Paternity insurance

Paternity leave grants two weeks to fathers within 6 months of the birth of their child. The leave can be taken all at once (weekend included) or in the form of days. The father must have been insured on a compulsory basis with the AVS during the 9 months immediately preceding the birth and have worked for at least 5 months.

As with maternity leave, the allowance corresponds to 80% of the average income from gainful employment obtained before the birth of the child, but at a maximum of CHF 196. For two weeks, fathers can receive a maximum amount of CHF 2744.

Social assistance

Throughout the canton of Vaud, regional social centres offer all people residing in a Vaud municipality information, advice and support in the event of financial, social or family difficulties.

If this is your case, you can go to the Centre social régional (CSR) closest to your home. Professionals will accompany you for all questions related, among other things, to obtaining the integration income, professional reintegration, etc.
 
Find the nearest centre social régional (CSR)

Family supplementary benefits (PC familles)

Cantonal supplementary benefits for families (PC Familles) are intended for families with children under the age of 16, who work and who are unable to cover the essential needs of their household. Thanks to this financial support, the families concerned do not need to resort to social assistance and can maintain or even increase their gainful activity.

Supplementary benefits for families consist of a monthly financial benefit and the reimbursement of duly proven childcare and sickness costs.
 
To receive PC Familles benefits, you can go to the Centre régional de décisions PC Familles (CRD) on which your municipality of residence depends in order to complete the application form. These organisations will provide you with information and help you build up a file.
 
Find the nearest Centre régional de décisions

Conditions to receive PC familles benefits

  • Be domiciled in the canton of Vaud for at least 3 years and have a valid residence permit
  • Live in a shared household with children under the age of 16
  • Have insufficient income in relation to family expenses, according to the standards defined in the law on cantonal supplementary benefits for families (LPCFam)

Centre social régional
 
Bex
Avenue de la Gare 14
1880 Bex
024 557 27 27
csr.bex@vd.ch
 
Échallens
Rue des Champs 5
1040 Échallens
021 622 75 55
csr@araspe.ch
 
Est lausannois-Oron-Lavaux - Site de Pully
Avenue de Villardin 2
1009 Pully
021 557 84 00
csr.pully.info@aras.vd.ch
 
Est lausannois-Oron-Lavaux - Site d’Oron
Le Bourg 11
Case postale 54 | 1610 Oron-la-Ville
021 557 19 55
csr.oron.info@aras.vd.ch
 
Junova
Rue des Pêcheurs 8A
1400 Yverdon-les-Bains
024 557 76 76
csr.junova@aras.vd.ch
 
Morges-Aubonne-Cossonay
Rue de Couvaloup 10
Case postale 982 | 1110 Morges 1
021 804 98 98
csr.morges@aras-vd.ch
 
Moudon
Place Saint-Etienne 6
1510 Moudon
021 557 86 80
csr.broye-vully@vd.ch
 
Nyon
Rue des Marchandises 17
1260 Nyon
021 338 99 38
csr.nyon@vd.ch
 
Ouest lausannois
Avenue du 14-Avril 8
1020 Renens
021 316 84 00/01/02
csr.ouest-lausannois@vd.ch
 
Penthalaz
Place Centrale 5
1305 Penthalaz
021 622 75 55
csr@araspe.ch
 
Payerne
Rue des Terreaux 1
Case postale 144 | 1530 Payerne
026 557 30 50
csr.broye-vully@vd.ch
 
Prilly
Rue des Métiers 1
1008 Prilly
021 622 74 00
csr@araspe.ch
 
Riviera – Site de Montreux
Avenue Claude-Nobs 14
Case postale 1009 | 1820 Montreux 1
021 962 78 60
csrriviera@arasriviera.ch
 
Riviera – Site de Vevey
Rue du Collège 17
Case postale 1112 | 1800 Vevey
021 925 53 33
csrriviera@arasriviera.ch
 
Service social Lausanne
Info sociale
Service social
Place Chauderon 4
Case postale 5032 | 1002 Lausanne
021 315 75 11
ssl@lausanne.ch

Warning

Receiving social assistance can have an impact on residence permits and their renewal. Indeed, from a certain amount, people in possession of a residence permit in Switzerland may possibly lose it or encounter problems when renewing it.

Other insurances

Fire and natural elements insurance (ECA)

Fire and natural elements insurance for your movable and immovable property is compulsory with the ECA in the canton of Vaud.

More information
Établissement cantonal d’assurance
Avenue du Grey 111
Case postale
1002 Lausanne
058 721 21 21

Civil liability and household insurance

Civil liability and household insurance allows you to insure your home and your belongings against all damage, including damage caused unintentionally by your children or yourself. It is recommended, but not mandatory. It may, however, be mandatory to find accommodation, as various authorities request it.

Car insurance

Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory and allows you to insure your car/motorcycle against all damage committed by yourself or another road user.

Specialised insurance

Depending on your needs, other types of insurance exist animals, travel, legal liability, etc. Many private insurance companies offer these services. There are different comparisons of insurance offers on the internet.

In conflict with your insurance?

The Ombudsman Foundation of Private Insurance and of Suva | SIA can support you in disputes with your insurance company. The mediation office intervenes free of charge for the insured, and quickly examines disputes under insurance law.

More information
Fondation Ombudsman
076 651 41 65

Taxes

You are subject to tax in the canton of Vaud because you live in a municipality of the canton or because other elements attach you there (stay, ownership or usufruct of buildings, independent activity, etc.). There are two methods of taxation:

  • Withholding tax (B, L, F, N, Ci permit, etc.). Your employer deducts taxes directly from your salary.
  • Annual declaration (C permit and Swiss nationals).

Practical information
In principle, people with a B permit are taxed at source, but in some cases they must complete an annual declaration.
 
You must complete your tax return each year (possible on the internet). You can pay monthly instalments on what you earn today to avoid having to pay your taxes all at once when you receive your tax the following year. The cantonal tax administration (ACI) is there to provide you with all the information on the matter.
 
AVIVO permanences impôts
 
Administration cantonale des impôts (ACI)
Route de Berne 46
1014 Lausanne
021 316 00 00
info.aci@vd.ch

“Parlons cash!” Helpline

If you have a question or a problem in connection with financial difficulties (unpaid bills, mail from the Office des Poursuites, etc.), you can contact the Vaud helpline “Parlons Cash” from Monday to Thursday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on 0840 4321 00. A social worker specialised in money matters will answer your questions and guide you if necessary, free of charge of course.

Procedure and deadlines

Employees, people without activity or income, people benefiting from unemployment insurance benefits, apprentices, students, anyone (from 18 years old) has the obligation to file their tax return each year until 15 March.

Any taxpayer can request, free of charge, the extension of the deadline for filing the tax return online. If you do not submit your declaration within the time allowed, you will receive a summons with a fee of CHF 50.

If, despite the warning, you still do not file your tax return, you will be taxed automatically by the tax authority and you will be liable for fines.