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Created on 30.01.2020

Driving: if you don’t have gross negligence cover, things can get expensive.

Anyone who rolls through a stop intersection or ignores a red light is acting in a manner that constitutes gross negligence. This means that, in the event of an accident, the insurer can reduce the payout. With gross negligence cover, drivers are protected against serious financial repercussions if they cause an accident through gross negligence.

Peter Müller was tired and in a hurry to get home. This is when he made the following really serious, and, in hindsight, inexplicable mistake: at the stop sign, he briefly looked left and right, and then made a turn without bringing his car to a halt. As a result, he saw the e-bike rider (who was approaching correctly) too late. Even though the woman did brake, she still collided with the car. She suffered fairly serious injuries and had to be taken to hospital. For Peter Müller, the accident was horrifying. After getting over the initial shock, he reported the damage to his third-party liability insurer, and thought that meant case closed, at least financially speaking. However, his actions constituted gross negligence, which meant his insurer was entitled to claim back a portion of the costs incurred. 

What does gross negligence mean on the road?

Gross negligence refers to behaviour where an individual clearly neglects their due diligence obligations and causes damage as a result. On the road, these are accidents where you might say “That’s unacceptable” or “How could anyone do that”. This differs to ordinary negligence, which is down to a brief, spur-of-the-moment lapse in concentration where you might say “These things happen”. As an example, the following conduct would be regarded as an instance of gross negligence:

  • Rolling through a stop intersection (without stopping)
  • Skipping a red light
  • A person texting on their mobile
  • Eating while driving
  • Speeding

What are the financial repercussions of a car accident caused by gross negligence?

By law, your car insurance company can take recourse in the event of gross negligence. This means they can claim back a portion of the costs of the damage from the driver. Seeing as the terms “gross negligence” and “ordinary negligence” are not clearly defined by law, in case of doubt, it is important for the type of negligence to be clarified legally. Peter Müller, however, who caused an accident by rolling through a stop intersection, will have to expect his insurer to take recourse – unless he has already taken out gross negligence cover as additional insurance.

How can you protect yourself from financial repercussions in the event of gross negligence?

With gross negligence cover, drivers are protected against financial repercussions if they cause an accident through gross negligence. It is a good idea to take out this additional insurance, which is provided by nearly all The link will open in a new window car insurance providers, for the following reasons:

  • Your insurance will cover the full costs of the damage (see exceptions)
  • The costs of this additional insurance are relatively low
  • Gross negligence cover extends to all persons who drive the car

Accidents that are not covered by gross negligence insurance are those caused by excessive speeding and inability to drive (e.g. driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication).

At a glance

  • Accidents caused by gross negligence are not uncommon
  • If you do not have additional insurance, you will be asked to pay up
  • Gross negligence cover is relatively inexpensive and will protect you from potentially substantial costs

How can you incorporate gross negligence cover into your policy?

Anyone who drives could have an accident due to gross negligence. With gross negligence cover, you are at least protected from the financial repercussions. This is why you should check whether your current insurance policy includes gross negligence cover.

It is well worth taking out gross insurance cover, such as the policy offered by PostFinance car insurance, whether it is your first time or you are changing policies. 

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