ELVIA Gross Negligence
Guide

GROSS NEGLIGENCE

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Guide overview
Mistakes like driving through a red light or overlooking a stop sign can easily have serious consequences. We explain what gross negligence means in relation to road traffic and how you can protect yourself against the financial consequences.
The term «gross negligence» refers to all breaches of the Swiss Road Traffic Act that could have been avoided with a little common sense – such as the aforementioned driving through a red light or overlooking a stop sign. Or to put it differently, all accidents about which you could ask yourself: «What on earth was I thinking?»
According to the law, your car third party liability insurance can claim part of the costs back from you if you cause an accident through gross negligence – the technical term for this is «recourse». Depending on the circumstances, the car insurer may ask you to pay up to 60 % of the claim.
While driving through a residential district early in the morning, you enter your destination on your sat nav. This distraction prevents you from seeing another car that is entering the junction you are crossing from the right. The driver of the other car suffers a head injury in the collision and has to go to hospital.

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Damage to the body of the other car 14,000.–
Costs of hospital treatment 30,000.–
Driver’s lost earnings 6000.–
Total liability claim 50,000.–
Insurance company’s recourse 20 % 10,000.–
If the court decides that your actions were grossly negligent, your car insurer will claim a certain amount back from you – in our case CHF 10,000, or 20 % of the total claim. In addition, you will have to pay any deductible that applies to your policy and you may lose your no-claims bonus. As a result, a brief moment of carelessness can easily cost you thousands of francs. The situation is particularly critical if the aggrieved party is seriously injured or even becomes disabled – then you could be faced with a bill of hundreds of thousands of francs.

For just a few francs per year, most car insurance companies offer a recourse waiver for gross negligence – depending on the insurer, the component in question could be called either «gross negligence cover» or «gross negligence waiver». It is definitely worth paying the additional premium: if you cause an accident by an act of gross negligence, the insurance will still pay the entire claim.

This does not include accidents in which you were unfit to drive, however – for instance because you were excessively tired or under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication. The insurance company also will not pay if you caused the accident by excessive speeding.

No one is immune to acts of carelessness on the road. And even if you are one of that rare breed of people who never make mistakes, a gross negligence waiver can still be worthwhile. This is because the cover extends to everyone who drives your car, from family to colleagues to your neighbours.

Incidentally, if you are on foot or riding your bike, your private liability insurance will cover you if you cause damage or injury to someone else. Just as in liability insurance for cars, gross negligence cover can also be included in private liability insurance, which could come in handy if you cause an accident because you are engrossed in your smartphone, for example.

  • The term «gross negligence» refers to breaches of traffic regulations which could have been avoided with a little common sense.
  • If you cause an accident through gross negligence, your insurer can claim recourse from you.
  • For that reason, it is essential to take out gross negligence cover – the small additional premium can protect you against severe financial consequences.
  • It is also worth including gross negligence cover in your private liability insurance.
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