20% online discount for many SME insurance products 

Even young start-ups sometimes encounter bad luck in their day-to-day work. And mistakes occasionally happen. To make sure this doesn’t mean the end of your self-employment, there’s start-up insurance from AXA.  Find out from our insurance check how you can protect yourself against risks in the start-up phase, so that you can concentrate wholly on your opportunities.

What types of insurance do start-ups and the self-employed need?

Or would it be better to ask what types of insurance does your new business need? Insurance is taken out to cover you against anything that could throw you off course in your self-employment. This could be a fire in the warehouse or coffee on your company laptop – insurance offers protection 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 which risks your young company faces. And what you would like to insure yourself against. 

Only very few types of insurance are compulsory for start-ups and the self-employed, Most of these relate to coverage 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 four greatest risks for start-ups and the self-employed: how to protect yourself

1. Liquidity gaps: making sure that money doesn’t become scarce

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 and new companies have a limited financial buffer, 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.

2. Loss of earnings: so that loss doesn’t mean "lost"

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 insurance company, we know what matters when start-ups falter: the ability to start again quickly.

The solution from AXA

1. Losses due to illness or accident


2. Losses due to technical failures, theft or cyber attacks


3. Losses due to third-party compensation claims

3. Lack of expertise: ensuring that you always have good advice

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. How does that all work? As a new business owner, you can't know everything, certainly not at the beginning. But the lack of expertise can become a problem for the self-employed, as uncertainties are a distraction and take up valuable time, regardless of whether they concern legal provisions or the choice of the right legal form. The good news is that you don't have to know everything, but only who can advise you on your questions.

4. Lack of familiarity: ensuring that your customers stand in line

Visibility is an important success factor for your self-employment. Many young entrepreneurs 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.

Every year, more than 5,000 new business owners place their trust in AXA Set up with AXA
More than CHF 2 billion in claims payments made to customers in 2021 Set up with AXA
The densest network of advisors in Switzerland Set up with AXA
147 years of experience on the Swiss insurance market Set up with AXA
40 percent of all Swiss companies are insured with AXA Set up with AXA
Investment in Swiss start-ups Set up with AXA

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.

For sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships

As the owner, you are classified as self-employed.

  • 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. 

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

For AGs or GmbHs

As the owner,  you are classified as an employee  of your own company.

  • 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. 

Start-up benefits from AXA

  • 20% discount as a little start-up assistance

    Have you become self-employed in the past 12 months? Then you can take advantage of a 20% online discount on the first annual premium of your AXA property, liability, and cyber insurance as well as on the annual premium of your supplementary accident insurance during the initial contract term. The discount campaign runs until September 17, 2023, and can be extended by AXA after that. The discount cannot be paid out retroactively. 

    To the premium calculator (in German)

  • Access to selected tools, workshops and events

    Things are easier with a strong partner by your side - we believe in your success and would like to support you as best we can on your journey to becoming an established business. AXA therefore offers new business owners access to exclusive tools, workshops and events, ranging from liquidity planning to networking events. 

  • Helpful services for the day-to-day work of start-ups

    We're not just there for you if you have a claim - many of AXA's insurance and occupational benefits solutions include helpful additional services that help ease your day-to-day life as a start-up, from the  employee benefits platform to free legal advice. 

  • Teaser Image
    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
  • Teaser Image
    Our commitment to start-ups

    We're a fan of small businesses in Switzerland. Everything about AXA's partnership with the Impact Hub Zurich and collaboration with start-ups.

    Find out more

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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.

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