Become self-employed? But of course Insurance for the self-employed and start-ups

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Even young start-ups sometimes encounter bad luck in their day-to-day work. And mistakes occasionally happen. To ensure they don’t lead to the end of your independence, there are various types of start-up insurance from AXA. The insurance check will show you how you can protect yourself against risks in the start-up phase so that you can concentrate fully on your opportunities.

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What insurance do the self-employed and start-ups need in Switzerland?

Regardless of whether there's a fire in the warehouse or coffee on your company laptop, insurance offers protection for the self-employed against risks that could endanger your dream of running your own business. Choosing insurance cover is not about being able to show that you have a certain number of policies. Instead you should think about what risks your young company faces, and which ones you don't want to bear on your own. 

Only very few types of insurance are compulsory for start-ups and the self-employed, and these mainly concern insurance for employees. Business owners are free to choose any other kind of insurance cover. Rightly so, as this is how they keep a grip on the greatest risks to their business. 

The most common types of insurance for the self-employed and start-ups

AXA's offer for the self-employed and start-ups

The four greatest risks when setting up a company and how you can protect yourself

1. Liquidity gaps

Liquidity gaps in the start-up phase are the most common reason for self-employment to fail. When money is scarce, the room to maneuver also dwindles. Loans continue to run, invoices have to be paid, debt enforcements pile up. Many start-ups only have a limited financial cushion, so it's all the more important to insure yourself against the risk of a lack of liquidity. That’s fine - with the right planning.

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    Free workshops for your liquidity planning

    Find out what you should bear in mind for planning your finances so that you always have sufficient financial resources available. Free for customers who have set up a business in the last 12 months.

    Preregistration by email

2. Loss of income

If your business stops, it doesn’t earn any money. Insurance companies call this a break in earnings or interrupted productivity. These breaks are among the greatest risks for anyone who is newly self-employed, because if customers have to wait for your delivery or if contracts and agreements are not honored, this usually becomes expensive. We know a great deal about this. As Switzerland’s leading SME insurer, we know what matters when start-ups falter: the ability to start again quickly.

Losses due to illness or accident

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    Accidents with expensive consequential costs

    Whether a cycling accident on the way home or a trapped thumb at work, an accident can happen quickly to you or your employees. Accident insurance from AXA is available so that the consequential costs don't cripple your company.

    More about accident insurance
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    Expensive continued payments of salary due to sickness

    Having to cope without your best employees due to illness is challenging, but it can be twice as difficult when you factor in continued payments of salary. Daily sickness benefits insurance from AXA can help to ease the burden.

    More about daily sickness benefits insurance

Losses due to damaged stock and infrastructure

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    Did you lose customers due to damage to stock?

    Is the shop window broken or the store room flooded? That’s what AXA’s property insurance is for, as it covers your losses and any loss of earnings.

    More about property insurance
    Calculate your premium (German)
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    At a standstill because of technical problems?

    Has coffee ended up on your laptop or is the CNC machine faulty? Repairs are expensive and your customers are waiting. This is where engineering insurance can help, as it covers you against the cost of repairs, data recovery and loss of earnings.

    More about engineering insurance
    Calculate your premium (German)
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    Have cyber attacks crippled your IT?

    The day-to-day work of new businesses is digital, but what happens if your IT infrastructure is hit by a hacker attack? This is where cyber insurance from AXA can help, as it offers support for recovering your data and compensates you for the financial consequences of the outage.

    More about cyber insurance
    Calculate your premium (German)

Losses  due to third-party compensation claims

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    Are third-party compensation claims a risk?

    Mistakes happen. If your customers incur damage as a result, claims for damages can often follow and unfortunately these are very expensive. Such cases are covered by third-party liability insurance from AXA.

    More about commercial third-party liability insurance
    Calculate your premium (German)

3. Lack of know-how

Those becoming self-employed are faced with new questions and decisions on an almost daily basis, from funding and business model to accounting, partnership and new customer acquisition. As a new business owner, you can't know everything, certainly not at the beginning. But the lack of know-how in legal, technical issues or insurance issues can become a problem, as uncertainties are a distraction and take up valuable time, The good news is that you don't have to know everything, but only who can advise you on your questions.

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    Do you have any legal questions?

    Disputes with a customer or trouble about a domain: it can happen quickly – and your start-up is involved in a legal dispute. With AXA legal protection insurance, founders benefit from five hours of free legal advice every year from AXA-ARAG lawyers and attorneys.

    More about commercial legal protection
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    Do you have any questions about insurance and pensions?

    AXA has the densest network of advisors in Switzerland. We are there to answer your questions and support you as best we can in realizing your dream of self-employment.

    Arrange an appointment
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    Do you have any questions on IT security?

    Are there any gaps in your IT infrastructure? Do your employees know which emails they had better not open? The cyber prevention service is a fixed component of our cyber insurance and helps you minimize the risk of an attack. Free Cyber Security Check included.

    To Cyber Security Check

4. Lack of familiarity

Visibility is an important success factor for your self-employment. Many  start-ups underestimate how much work is needed to make others aware of their offer. That's a risk. You need new customers to establish yourself on the market, and you'll only find new customers if you're sufficiently visible. That's why whether it's through networking, online marketing, word of mouth, advertisements or viral posts on social media, you should give your new company the publicity it deserves. At the end of the day, you're good at what you do, and everyone should know about it.

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    Expand your network through the Swiss Startup Association

    Build up a network, expand your knowledge, secure discounts: as an AXA customer, you benefit from free basic membership of one of the leading networks for founders in Switzerland.

    Activate free membership
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    Your logo on your new company car - with UPTO

    If new business owners take out a car subscription, UPTO will give them vehicle signage worth CHF 250 which also gets your company noticed when you're out and about.

    More about UPTO

How do pensions work for start-ups and the self-employed?

The legal form of your company is crucial when choosing the right pension solution. Owners of sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships are classified as self-employed. They can take out occupational benefits insurance, but are not obliged to do so. By contrast, owners of a company limited by shares (AG) or a limited liability company (GmbH) are classified as employees of their own company. They are subject to the OPA and are legally obliged to insure themselves and their employees through Pillar 2.

Find out more about pensions and self-employment in our blog entitled "Pensions for the self-employed: What do you really need?».

For sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships

  • Compulsory: you are obliged to register with the cantonal compensation office (OASI) if you earn a profit of more than CHF 2,300 p.a.
  • Voluntary: you can choose to take out occupational benefits insurance and join a pension scheme (Pillar 2). Many self-employed people in Switzerland also take out a private Pillar 3 pension with a view to maintaining the standard of living they’re accustomed to after they retire. 

For AGs or GmbHs

  • Compulsory: OPA applies to you and your employees. From a salary level of CHF 21,330, you and your team have to join an OPA solution (Pillar 2) or run your own pension scheme.
  • Voluntary: you are free to take out a private pension with Pillar 3. 
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    Occupational benefits insurance with Pillar 2

    It is often too costly for a new company to manage its own pension fund, so AXA offers you various semi-autonomous pension solutions to meet the needs of your company and your (future) employees.

    More about occupational benefits
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    Private pension provision with Pillar 3

    Becoming self-employed can lead to worries about long-term financial security. A private Pillar 3 pension is a good option for the self-employed to protect their income for the future and save tax at the same time.

    More about private pension provision

Our additional services for founders

  • Free liquidity workshops

    AXA supports founders with free liquidity planning workshops. Find out what you should bear in mind for planning your liquidity so that you have sufficient financial resources available. And the best thing of all? AXA pays the participation fees for customers who have set up a business in the last 12 months.

  • Membership of the Swiss Startup Association

    AXA is a proud partner of the Swiss Startup Association. It's also worthwhile for you, because at AXA, the self-employed and start-ups benefit  from free basic membership with one of the leading networks for founders in Switzerland. Connect with entrepreneurs and investors at events, improve your skills in exciting workshops, and take advantage of political representation and attractive discounts.

  • Discounts on the Swibeco benefits platform

    Swibeco is the digital platform for staff benefits in Switzerland - it's worth it for you and your team. With Swibeco, you can benefit from discounts from more than 150 top Swiss companies, helping you to save costs. Another plus is that Swibeco is a fixed component of AXA's daily sickness benefits insurance which is why we pay the usage fees for you.

  • 5h free legal advice

    With AXA commercial legal protection insurance, founders benefit from five hours of free legal advice every year from AXA-ARAG lawyers and attorneys. Whether it concerns a change of legal form or tips about problems with the landlord, our experts are a strong partner when you set up, during crises and when you get started with your business. 

  • Vehicle signage on your UPTO company car

    You can access your company car quickly and easily with an UPTO car subscription. The subscription contains the new car of your choice as well as all maintenance costs (apart from fuel and parking charges). And the best thing of all? UPTO will give new business owners vehicle signage worth CHF 250 which also gets your company noticed when you're out and about.

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    CHF 500 reduction on your set-up costs

    Would you like to set up a business easily online? AXA will give you up to CHF 500 towards your start-up costs if a new business is set up through startups.ch and you take out at least two types of commercial insurance.

    To startups.ch
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    Our commitment to start-ups

    We're a fan of small businesses in Switzerland. Everything about AXA's collaboration with start-ups.

    Find out more

Support and frequently asked questions

  • What types of social security insurance are compulsory for start-ups and the self-employed?

    Social security insurance is compulsory. The various types protect Swiss residents against risks and secure their financial existence. Employees and the self-employed make financial contributions. 

    The legal form you choose determines which types of social insurance are compulsory for new businesses. The compensation offices, and in some cases the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Suva), decide who qualifies as self-employed for the purposes of social insurance.

    There are different types of social security insurance which include the following: 

    • Federal old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI): OASI is the most important pillar of the Swiss pension system (Pillar 1 together with disability insurance), which is intended to cover your basic needs in retirement or those of your dependents after your death. As national insurance, OASI is compulsory for anyone living or working in Switzerland. Federal old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI) is often the only source of income for many pensioners. With this in mind, you should try to avoid any gaps in your OASI contributions.
    • Disability insurance (DI): DI covers disability pension plans in Switzerland (Pillar 1 together with OASI) and is compulsory for anyone living or working in Switzerland. It covers the basic needs of people affected by disabilities by providing rehabilitation measures or payments.
    • Loss of earnings compensation (LEC): loss of earnings compensation insurance provides reasonable compensation for income lost through military service or maternity leave. Contributions are compulsory for everyone.
    • Family allowances (FA): all self-employed people in Switzerland have been subject to the Swiss Federal Family Allowance Act (FAA) since January 1, 2013. This means that they are both entitled to receive a family allowance and required to pay contributions. They must therefore register with a family allowance fund in the canton where their business is based.
    • Insurance against health risks:  it's vital for self-employed people to have the right health coverage. To avoid bankruptcy and keep their business going through adversity, they need  to be covered for sickness, accidents, disability, and death.
      • Daily sickness benefits insurance (DSB): this is a form of voluntary coverage for the risk of being unable to work due to sickness. It pays benefits for up to two years. 
      • Accident insurance: work absences are covered with this as a result of accident. The Swiss Federal Accident Insurance Act distinguishes between two types of accident insurance:
        • Occupational accident (OA): this is compulsory for all employees. Company founders can insure themselves privately through their health insurer or through their company.
        • Non-occupational accident (NOA): this is compulsory for staff who work eight hours a week or more. Company owners can insure themselves privately through their health insurer or through their company.
        • Self-employed persons without any employees do not have to take out accident insurance, but they can include daily accident benefits in their daily sickness benefits insurance or elect to be subject to AIA. A self-employed person who becomes ill or is involved in an accident is often no longer able to generate the accustomed income. In such cases, having accident and daily sickness benefits insurance for self-employed persons will help to close the gap.
      • Things can get more complicated when it comes to disability. You can either take out additional private cover or increase the benefits covered by your company’s pension fund.
      • The rule of thumb as regards death is that company owners with families that depend on them should make better provision than those who are young and single.
    • Occupational benefits insurance (OPA): occupational benefits insurance is voluntary for self-employed people with no employees. If you employ any staff earning CHF 22,050 a year or more, occupational benefits contributions are compulsory. Many self-employed people in Switzerland take out a private pension in the third pillar in addition to their occupational benefits insurance with a view to maintaining the standard of living they’re accustomed to after they retire. 
  • What are the most important types of business insurance for start-ups and the self-employed?

    The most important types of business insurance for new companies include:

    Depending on the type of company and sector, many self-employed also choose the following cover:

  • Can the self-employed insure themselves against unemployment?

    Self-employed people in Switzerland can’t register with the state unemployment insurance program, so they aren’t insured against unemployment.

  • I’d like to use money from my pension fund and Pillar 3a account as start-up capital. Is this possible?

    Anyone registered as self-employed with the compensation office can withdraw occupational benefits for use as start-up capital. You can also withdraw tax-privileged capital saved in Pillar 3a to invest in your business. Such withdrawals are taxed at a special low rate.

    Sole proprietors and partners in a general or limited partnership qualify as self-employed. You need to file your application within a year of becoming self-employed.

    Owners of a company limited by shares (AG) or a limited liability company (GmbH) are classed as employees. They aren’t allowed to withdraw money from Pillar 2 or Pillar 3a for their business. This is why, in practice, many people first set up a sole proprietorship, which they then change into an AG or GmbH at a later date.

  • How can I protect my family as a self-employed person?

    Whatever your company’s legal form, it’s important to ensure that your insurance solution suits your family’s needs. Self-employed people with no dependents can improve their risk coverage by paying into Pillars 3a and 3b. If you’re living with a partner and have children, you should also pay into an OPA pension as well as save capital in Pillar 3. This will allow you to maintain your whole family’s usual standard of living if you’re unfit for work due to sickness or an accident.

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