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Old 04.10.2011, 20:57
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Do I need a lawyer?

I began a rental last week and was told insurance was required and that liabilities in the millions were possible.

I contacted a firm yesterday and they sent me the contract in German.

I do not know German. My Swiss work colleagues offer no assistance and say I should just sign and pay the fees.

I don't know if the document I am being asked to sign has obligations or liability for me beyond paying the premium.

Our "relocation assistance team" at work says their assistance does not extend to this area.

Are there some solutions from shared experiences that can be offered?

Also suggestions for not losing faith in others would be good.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:04
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

This is not something you want a lawyer for (too expensive) when you just need a half sensible person who can read German to be able to say what they are offering. I would start off by i) checking the dates and duration of the policy. Do not get duped into buying a 10 year policy you don't need or are stuck with as long as you live in Switzerland. Also, ii) can you say what the policy is for ? Is it household insurance, contents, third party liablity insurance - "Halfplichtversicherung", legal costs insurance "Rechtschutz". I would recommend the "Halfpflichtversicherung" and it should not cost more than CHF 95 per year. Household insurance can be handy but be sure you have sufficient possessions to justify paying the premium every year. Have you compared the coverage and premiums you are being offered at www.comparis.ch ? "Comparis" search the market and compare what all insurance companies are offering and compare the price. How high are the premiums incidentally ? I would not blindly sign this or be reassured into doing so by people who say "everyone has one" or just sign and don't worry about. You do want to know what you are signing and you want the right to renew your terms each year and not be locked into an expensive "ten year insurance contract", for example.

Last edited by isascott; 04.10.2011 at 21:07. Reason: word missing
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:07
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

If you want, you can scan it and send it to me.

I can look at it as I understand written German and if unsure have plenty of colleagues who would check it for you.

I know it feels like a minefield when you first get here and the phrase "don't sign anything you can't understand" is deep rooted in most of us.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:08
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

why don't you ask the insurance company to assist you? they might have an english version of the contract.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:22
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

Thanks, that sounds reasonable. I guess my biggest lament is an unmet expectation that coworkers would have come to the aid to a newbie for something that would not have been too burdensome. I get that feeling too much at work and have no personal life so this situation is the iceberg tip. Somewhere I know I will find a way to adapt and feel comfortable and self reliant here but the rejections in the volunteering assistance seem to be institutionalized and I am having the personal dilemma of fighting off gaining a bitter outlook regarding the personalities and empathy quotient of the Swiss.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:27
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

My college said that you could ask for the contract in English and they must give it to you! We didn't know it, so we have just signed without understanding everything. But he has asked for it and got it, so he was able to read and fully understand what was written in the contract.
So if I were you I would try and get the English version.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:28
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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Thanks, that sounds reasonable. I guess my biggest lament is an unmet expectation that coworkers would have come to the aid to a newbie for something that would not have been too burdensome. I get that feeling too much at work and have no personal life so this situation is the iceberg tip. Somewhere I know I will find a way to adapt and feel comfortable and self reliant here but the rejections in the volunteering assistance seem to be institutionalized and I am having the personal dilemma of fighting off gaining a bitter outlook regarding the personalities and empathy quotient of the Swiss.
Do you talk like Prospero to them too? Might explain something

Seriously though.....if you ask them to translate the small print of an insurance contract, they may baulk, but if you say..."would you mind having a quick look and tell me if you'd sign it?" maybe they will

But dont judge all Swiss by it please
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:36
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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Thanks, that sounds reasonable. I guess my biggest lament is an unmet expectation that coworkers would have come to the aid to a newbie for something that would not have been too burdensome. I get that feeling too much at work and have no personal life so this situation is the iceberg tip. Somewhere I know I will find a way to adapt and feel comfortable and self reliant here but the rejections in the volunteering assistance seem to be institutionalized and I am having the personal dilemma of fighting off gaining a bitter outlook regarding the personalities and empathy quotient of the Swiss.
Disappointments are intrinsic to expectations, don't worry about it. It just takes time to assimilate the way of life here, which is excellent once it clicks. Many things may seem onerous and complicated, but they really aren't, just different. Just take the Man from Mars approach, observe, don't compare, ask questions and take things step by step and don't let anybody hurry you.

You'll do fine.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:37
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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I began a rental last week and was told insurance was required and that liabilities in the millions were possible.

I contacted a firm yesterday and they sent me the contract in German.

I do not know German. My Swiss work colleagues offer no assistance and say I should just sign and pay the fees.

I don't know if the document I am being asked to sign has obligations or liability for me beyond paying the premium.

Our "relocation assistance team" at work says their assistance does not extend to this area.

Are there some solutions from shared experiences that can be offered?

Also suggestions for not losing faith in others would be good.
Sign an insurance asap! your apartment, yourself, your car...everything...
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:47
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

We got our insurance through Zurich. They provided all the documentation in english...and a customer service staff member via telephone or email in english too...

I'm sure they are not the only ones offering their products with paperwork in english...
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:51
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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We got our insurance through Zurich. They provided all the documentation in english...and a customer service staff member via telephone or email in english too...

I'm sure they are not the only ones offering their products with paperwork in english...
Same with AXA Winterthur. Very straight forward, just selecting options for amount of coverage, deductible, etc. Nothing alarming in the agreement fine print.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:56
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

If your party is informed that you do not read German then by law you are not allowed to sign German written contract. it is simply not valid . Not sure why this company sent you German version at all. Maybe you should look for another insurance company or ask not too expensive lawyer to help.
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Old 04.10.2011, 21:59
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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My college said that you could ask for the contract in English and they must give it to you! We didn't know it, so we have just signed without understanding everything. But he has asked for it and got it, so he was able to read and fully understand what was written in the contract.
So if I were you I would try and get the English version.
They're not required to provide a contract in English, but many of them (especially the larger multinational companies) will. It's worth asking.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:02
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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If your party is informed that you do not read German then by law you are not allowed to sign German written contract. it is simply not valid . Not sure why this company sent you German version at all. Maybe you should look for another insurance company or ask not too expensive lawyer to help.
I am pretty sure that this isn't true. For one or two high end things (buying a house, getting married) you need to prove that you understand it, but if you show up and only speak ....say.....Gaelic....you think that your car insurance company need to translate it for you?
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:03
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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Thanks, that sounds reasonable. I guess my biggest lament is an unmet expectation that coworkers would have come to the aid to a newbie for something that would not have been too burdensome. I get that feeling too much at work and have no personal life so this situation is the iceberg tip. Somewhere I know I will find a way to adapt and feel comfortable and self reliant here but the rejections in the volunteering assistance seem to be institutionalized and I am having the personal dilemma of fighting off gaining a bitter outlook regarding the personalities and empathy quotient of the Swiss.
This is the first thing you have to start seeing with different eyes.

I once got upset over something that my Swiss friends didn't do and went to bitch to my German friend about it. And he told me like it is.

My expectations were based upon MY culture and were not in keeping with the way the Swiss did things. You can't get mad a someone for acting the way they are and not acting the way you want them to based on your home culture. (does that make sense?)

The Swiss are self sufficient and don't volunteer to help others because (in part) other Swiss don't expect them to. So you can't get mad at them for not meeting your expectations based on how you think they should act. (is that better?)
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:04
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

perhaps you could look at the sticky in the insurance thread here on Ef, there is a company who specialises in ex pat insurance, david is english and all documentation is in english too
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:17
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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This is the first thing you have to start seeing with different eyes.

I once got upset over something that my Swiss friends didn't do and went to bitch to my German friend about it. And he told me like it is.

My expectations were based upon MY culture and were not in keeping with the way the Swiss did things. You can't get mad a someone for acting the way they are and not acting the way you want them to be or based on your home culture. (does that make sense?)

The Swiss are self sufficient and don't volunteer to help others because (in part) other Swiss don't expect them to. So you can't get mad at them for not meeting your expectations based on how you think they should act. (is that better?)
In spite of that, there are many Swiss who come forward and help. more than 10 years ago when I came here, at one of the newcomer mornings my company had arranged, I expressed my exasperation at the difficulty in finding a reasonable place to rent. During the break, a Swiss colleague came to me, expressed his sympathy and offered to help in which ever way he could. After all this time, and jobs changes and moving much further away, we are still great friends.There were others too, who didn't come forward on their own but did help whenever I approached them.

I think you just need to be patient if not lucky. A helpful secretary or admin staff, a kindly colleague is just likely to be round the corner.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:27
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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In spite of that, there are many Swiss who come forward and help.
Of course they do.

That's not my point though. My point is that we can't get upset about people not acting how you expect them to based on our home culture or our expectations of how they should act.

Like I said, I was in a similar position to the OP where I got upset that my Swiss friends didn't act as I had expected them to when the way they acted was perfectly normal.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:33
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

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Of course they do.

That's not my point though. My point is that we can't get upset about people not acting how you expect them to based on our home culture or our expectations of how they should act.

Like I said, I was in a similar position to the OP where I got upset that my Swiss friends didn't act as I had expected them to when the way they acted was perfectly normal.
I understand and agree completely. generally speaking, I do remember feeling very lonely and ignored at work then because I came from a very different culture where things were much friendlier and livelier.. I just made peace with the fact that, that's how people were here in CH, put my head down and carried on.
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Old 04.10.2011, 22:33
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Re: Do I need a lawyer?

I agree, finding people to help out when you have zero German is hard at the beginning.

People who have been bilingual/multilingual from birth may have a very big difficulty imagining what it is like for those who are completely monolingual.

It *will* get easier, I promise. My husband and I would take several hours a week to 'read' our mail using a combination of collaborative deduction, German dictionary and online translator.

I am happy to report that after 3 years I can skim most things and make a rough guess, and have gathered a few people along the way who are very happy to help out when and if needed.

Don't be too quick to judge others as 'unhelpful' - they may simply not understand that you barely can read what is in front of you - as their 'limited' english is about 20 years ahead of your 'limited' german - so they are sort of 'suspicious' when you ask for help, because they are expecting it to be complicated (as in, if it was simple, you wouldn't be asking).

Get out and about, make some friends, from what I have discovered, there are plenty of EF 'english speakers' who have very good German too, and are more than willing to help out as needed.

Don't feel stupid phoning and saying 'excuse me, can you help me, do you speak english?' you might actually be pleasantly surprised how many people can handle your request.

Keep smiling, too, and be apologetic and friendly, it can be as awkward for them as it is for you to converse in english, when it is not their 'mother tongue'...
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