Energy shortage in Switzerland: In the event of a blackout, the insurance companies cannot pay for the damage

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Energy shortage in SwitzerlandIn the event of a blackout, the insurance may not be able to pay for the damage

Damages caused by announced blackouts will not be reimbursed by insurance companies – neither to individuals nor to Swiss companies. Many disputes are to be expected.

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20 min/Matthias Spicher

It is at the end of winter, next February or March, that our country risks being faced with blackouts. Because Switzerland does not produce enough energy in winter. Furthermore, it remains uncertain whether our German and French neighbors will then be able to deliver it to us. Therefore is Confederation could decide to carry out controlled blackouts of several hours, reminds “NZZ am Sonntag”.

Individuals and companies (see box) will bear the costs of such cuts – damages which, by the way, will not necessarily be compensated by insurance companies, which only cover secondary damages. It is hardly possible to insure yourself against planned power cuts, since, as the insurance companies claim, you could have prepared for them. And no need to seek insurance now. Helvetia had offered real blackout insurance to businesses, but quickly withdrew it from the market this summer because it was not profitable, the Zürich newspaper reports.

“Kids should compensate companies”

“At the moment, no one knows what will happen. I know, for example not whether business interruption insurance will cover damage caused by a lack of electricity,” says national councilor Fabio Regazzi (Centre/TI), president of the Swiss Union of Arts and Crafts (USAM) and owner of the family business Regazzi SA in Gordola. According to Ticino, many disputes will occupy the courts for years. And he believes that “making electricity available is a fundamental task for the state. I am of the opinion that the state must pay compensation to the companies if it does not make enough power available to them. Otherwise, many companies would go bankrupt.

180 billion losses

The Federal Office for Civil Protection estimates the total possible damage in the event of a power outage of several months at 180 billion Swiss francs. That’s almost a quarter of GDP (gross domestic product)

Risks for individuals and companies

In households, food in refrigerators and freezers can be damaged in the event of a power cut that is too long. And aquarium fish and other reptiles would perish, notes the Zurich newspaper.

In companies, the risk is multiple: loss of production, raw materials and income. And this even after a shortcut or a voltage variation due to instability in the electrical network. Emmi states, for example, that the dairy products that would be in its installations at the time of a cut would likely deteriorate or burn. Additionally, once power is restored, the products must be removed from the facilities, which must then be cleaned and sterilized to achieve the required state of hygiene. A procedure that, depending on the product, can take up to several hours before the installation works again.

In the restaurant industry, power outages, even announced in advance, can cripple businesses. They could thus no longer even open in the evening, if that is where the cuts are to take place. With the consequences of a massive drop in turnover, as many companies have most of their turnover in the evening, notes the German-speaking newspaper.

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