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An old insurance plaque on a wooden house in Evolène, Canton Valais (in new window)

An old insurance plaque on a wooden house in Evolène, Canton Valais. The first fire insurance in Switzerland was established in Canton Aargau in 1806. The Bâloise insurance company was set up in 1863.©

The Swiss spend a lot of money on insurance. Some is compulsory - like state pension contributions, pension fund and unemployment insurance, which are deducted at source from salaries, and health insurance which every resident must arrange privately. Tenants are generally obliged to take out personal liability insurance as a condition of their lease. Overall in 2004, an average Swiss family spent over 22% of its household budget on insurance. The Swiss are among the world leaders in expenditure on private insurance.

Despite this, insurance companies earn half their money abroad. Switzerland is the leading insurance exporter in Europe.

Reinsurance (insurance for insurers), is also an important service, with much of the business done abroad.

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