Where in Switzerland has the most hail and storms?

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AXA Switzerland's claims statistics for the last ten years show which cantons were worst affected by storm damage: Neuchâtel for hail, Schwyz for flooding, and Ticino for lightning. Our analysis makes it clear that there were more extreme weather events, but these fortunately didn't lead to more claims. Prevention measures at the federal, cantonal, and communal levels are thus having a positive effect. 

Last year's violent storms were a graphic demonstration of nature's destructive power. Images of hail-damaged cars, flooded cellars, and items washed away are still fresh in our minds, but now the next storm season is approaching. This typically lasts from May to August in Switzerland, although the risk varies from region to region. AXA Switzerland's claims statistics for the last ten years paint a clear picture of where the various kinds of damage occurred most often (see charts). The cantons of Neuchâtel, Ticino, and Jura suffered the worst hail damage, while Nidwalden, Lucerne, Schwyz, Zug, and Bern were also affected. Over the past decade, around half of all the hail damage reported to AXA Switzerland was in these eight cantons. Severe hail events that damage lots of vehicles in a short space of time can have an especially large impact on the cost of claims. Schaffhausen, Valais, and Graubünden, meanwhile, recorded hardly any hail damage.

Flood damage occurred most frequently in the canton of Schwyz, followed by Thurgau, Lucerne, Solothurn, and Aargau. Over a third of AXA Switzerland's total flood damage claims were in these cantons. Schwyz was out in front due to a particularly severe storm with very intensive rainfall in 2016. The cantons of Vaud, Nidwalden, Uri, Basel-Stadt, and Graubünden remained mostly free from flood damage over the past ten years. 

When it comes to lightning damage, one canton tops the list by a considerable margin: Ticino recorded eight times more than the rest of Switzerland. It is not hard to understand why. When warm, humid air from the Mediterranean moves northward and hits the Alps, it forms storm clouds with strong fluctuations in electrical charge. The cantons of Vaud and Basel-Stadt were the least affected by lightning.

Investment in construction projects

The statistics show that climate change is making extreme weather events more common. At the same time, however, no clear trend is discernible in the number of storm damage claims over the last 25 years. "This is because the federal government, cantons, and communes have invested a lot in preventive measures in recent years – especially following the terrible flooding in the summer of 2005," says Stefan Müller, Head of Property Claims at AXA Switzerland. These include a flood relief tunnel in Thun to regulate the level of Lake Thun, retention basins and raised dams in the canton of Aargau, and the launch of a nationwide flood risk map. "These investments are paying off," notes Stefan. 

How to protect your property

If you take some precautions, you can minimize the risk of storm damage to your property. Apps are available that quickly send a push message whenever there's a weather warning in your location. It's a good idea to subscribe to these warnings and regularly check the precipitation radar. If a storm with strong winds is on the way, you should make sure that light and movable items are firmly secured or taken inside and retract your sunshades. If there's going to be heavy rain, you should also check that your drains aren't blocked and close your windows. When there's a risk of water leaking into the building, you should place all valuables and anything that's susceptible to water damage somewhere high up. When hail is forecast, vehicles should be brought under cover and shutters rolled up. Stefan Müller explains: "Many people don't realize that hail can't really damage windows, but it can definitely damage shutters." 

Insurance cover for storm damage

Damaged items could be covered under various insurance policies. Furniture and fittings are covered on a new-for-old basis under household contents insurance. Partial accidental damage insurance, meanwhile, covers storm damage to vehicles. If the building itself is damaged, this is covered by building insurance, which is provided by a cantonal institution in most cantons. 

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