FAQs


Benefits of SERV insurance

What does SERV do?

SERV insures Swiss exports against Glossarypolitical risks and Glossarydel credere risk (economic risk). In other words, we give you, the exporter, the security of knowing that you will be paid for your goods and services. Moreover, our insurance and guarantees help you finance your export transactions and conserve your company's cash. We also advise you on key issues during transactions, including contract drafting.


How does SERV insurance benefit me?

  • Security: SERV protects your company from default and reassures you that you will be paid for risky export orders. We insure exports that are not covered by private export credit insurers.
  • Easier financing: If you have SERV insurance, banks will be more inclined to grant much-needed loans or guarantees for your exports. It is also easier to assign claims to your bank. That way, you can offer customers excellent financing terms and still receive your money immediately.
  • Liquidity: If you take out SERV insurance, banks can give your company loans or guarantees without applying the full amount toward your credit limit. You can conserve cash and maintain the funds needed to accept new export orders.
  • Advice: Our staff has a wealth of experience analysing country, bank and company risks and processing export transactions. They can be particularly helpful for exporters who are entering a new market or doing business with a new customer.

What phases in an export transaction can be covered by SERV insurance?

SERV's products protect your company at every stage of an export transaction: from submitting a bid to paying the last loan instalment (and even beyond for certain contract bonds).


What type of export can I insure with SERV?

SERV covers exports from all sectors: consumer and capital goods as well as services such as construction, maintenance and engineering projects or licence and know-how agreements. To learn more, see page 10 of our SERV Compact brochure.


What risks does SERV cover?

SERV covers the following risks:


What risks does SERV not cover?

Exports are exposed to various risks not covered by SERV, including transport or currency risks.


Does SERV insure exports to any country in the world?

Generally, yes. Keep in mind, however, that SERV is only allowed to supplement, not replace, the insurance available from private credit insurers (subsidiarity principle). SERV's products are primarily designed for exports to politically or economically unstable countries. We therefore have restrictions on short-term exports to core OECD countries. Furthermore, some countries have extraordinary risks that SERV cannot insure at all or can only insure on a case-by-case basis. If you want to insure an export to one of these countries, you should contact us as early as possible. Details about individual countries are available in the List of countries.


Does SERV offer 100% cover?

The maximum cover ratio for most SERV products is 95%. The policyholder is responsible for the remaining 5%.


How can SERV improve my company’s cash flow?

SERV has two products that prevent exports from failing due to the exporter’s lack of liquidity. The counter guarantee and working capital insurance protect your bank in case you, the exporter, fail to live up to your commitments. Your bank can then give you new loans or guarantees without applying the full amount toward your credit limit. This allows you to obtain the funding needed to accept new export orders.


How much does SERV insurance cost?

SERV does not charge minimum premiums. Therefore, you can also insure exports with a low contract value at reasonable rates. Premiums depend on various factors, including the destination country, contract value and the term of the export transaction, the creditworthiness of your customer or the guaranteeing foreign bank.


What is the difference between an insurance Glossarycommitment in principle (ICP) and an insurance policy (IP)?

You can ask SERV for an insurance Glossarycommitment in principle (ICP) before concluding an export contract (during the bidding phase). The ICP confirms that SERV will insure a transaction as required as long as the circumstances and legal position does not change substantially. The Glossarycommitment is valid for six months and can be extended. We will convert the ICP to an insurance policy as soon as you are ready. The ICP is optional: If you already have a final export contract, we will issue an insurance policy right away.

Conditions for the conclusion of an insurance contract

What criteria does my company have to meet in order to take out insurance from SERV?

Your company has to meet only one requirement: It must be listed in the Commercial Register of Switzerland. Your export, however, must meet additional requirements. ((LINK to: “I want to insure an export transaction with SERV. What do I need to know?”))


Can SMEs also benefit from SERV insurance?

Yes, SERV’s insurance is ideal for SMEs. SERV does not charge minimum premiums. It also has no minimum requirements for company size or insured contract value. If you have working capital insurance or the counter guarantee, it will be easier to obtain low-cost loans for exporting your goods and services and conserve your company's cash. SERV also helps you assess country, buyer and bank risk and process export transactions.


Does SERV have minimum size requirements?

No. SERV has no minimum sizes or minimum premiums for exports or companies.


We provide services to foreign customers. Can we insure services, too?

Yes. SERV insures exports of services as well as goods. You can thus insure any kind of service that your company provides to foreign customers. This typically includes services performed by architectural or engineering firms, the production of studies, software, multimedia or advertising, licence agreements, training courses or construction services.


I want to insure an export with SERV. What do I need to know?

Generally, foreign content may not make up more than 50% of the value of your export (cf. Swiss share of value added). Furthermore, SERV has to follow international rules on down payments, credit periods, etc. when insuring export transactions. Contact us early, ideally before drawing up the export contract. That way, we can advise you on the best way to structure your transaction to maximise your benefit from our insurance.


I have subcontractors abroad. Is that a problem?

No. SERV regularly insures transactions with up to 50% foreign content. Special transactions may have up to 70% foreign content, but we will levy a surcharge on the insurance premium.

For a specific application

I have never had any dealings with SERV. What is the best way to contact SERV?

The best way to contact us is by phone. This gives us an opportunity to identify your needs and answer your questions during the first call. If your company is located in German- or Italian-speaking Switzerland, please dial +41 (0)58 551 55 15. If it is in French-speaking Switzerland, please dial +41 (0)21 613 35 84.


At which point in the export transaction should I best contact SERV?

You should contact us as soon as possible, ideally before drawing up the contract. That way, we can advise you on the best way to structure your transaction to maximise your benefit from our products. Also, we can help you analyse country, buyer and bank risks.


How do I apply for insurance?

You can only apply for SERV insurance or guarantees through our online application portal. Please note that the information you provide on the application is binding.


Should I apply directly for an insurance policy or guarantee or rather for an insurance Glossarycommitment in principle?

You can apply directly for an insurance policy or a guarantee if the export deal has been signed. Before signing the contract, it is possible to make an enquiry about an insurance Glossarycommitment in principle. This serves to make it clear that the transaction is eligible for cover in principle and what premium can be expected. It also helps create certainty in negotiations. If there is no change in the factual and the legal situation, the insurance Glossarycommitment in principle is valid for six months. We recomment you to make your applications early and before the commencement of the risk at the latest.


What do I need to remember when filing an application?

The information provided on the application is binding! SERV does not review export contracts or other documents before issuing an insurance policy. (Any documents or contracts that you send to us will be returned unread.) We only review contracts and documents if a claim is filed. If the application information is incorrect, we may reduce your indemnity or deny the claim.


What documents should I submit with an application?

We will need the application form, which you can complete online in our application portal. Depending on the customer, export transaction and insurance type, we may need more details for our risk assessment. This may include information on your company, the customer (key figures, balance sheets, income statements) or the project's social and environmental impact. The application portal will tell you what information to provide in your specific case.

With a current insurance policy

SERV has issued an insurance policy. What do I do now?

The information in the insurance policy (including term and order volume) is binding; please notify us immediately if it changes. As policyholder, you are also required to inform SERV of any and all events that indicate an imminent loss (e.g. request for an extension of payment by the customer, or missed payments). If a loss occurs, we will use the information you provide. Losses that occur after the policy “end date” are not covered.


I have SERV insurance and my customer is in default on making payments. What should I do?

Do not take any hasty action. Instead, notify your SERV client advisor immediately of the payment default, preferably in writing. Then, start the standard collection process for your industry.


Can I assign an insurance policy to a bank?

Yes. If you obtain SERV’s prior consent, you can transfer/assign insurance policies to a bank.


When will SERV indemnify me in case of an insured event?

At the occurrence of an insured risk, a waiting period begins. The waiting period for products for financial institutions is one month, three months for products for exporters. The waiting period should be used to avert or to mitigate a loss. On expiry of the waiting period, your indemnification request will be treated. After proof has been established the request will be acknowledged and you will be indemnified.  The duration of this period as defined in SERV's GTC is calculated based on Article 77 paragraph 1 of the Swiss code of obligations.

General

How does SERV define short-term and medium- or long-term?

A credit period of less than 24 months is considered short-term. If the credit period is 24 months or more, the transaction is considered medium- or long-term. The credit period covers the period between delivery as contracted and the final agreed instalment payment. It is not affected by the manufacturing period.


Why does SERV take on risks that are not covered by private insurers?

SERV is not profit-driven since it is an institution under public law owned by the Swiss Confederation. Its mission is to support Swiss exporters. However, SERV is required by law to be economically viable and pay its own costs. To do so, it charges premiums large enough to cover its risks.


Does SERV receive government subsidies?

No. SERV is required to be economically viable (art. 6 (1) a SERVG) and must pay its own costs by charging premiums large enough to cover the risks it takes on.


How are the country categories determined?

The country categories (CCa) range from 0 (lowest risk) to 7 (highest risk). They are determined within the OECD. Country analysts from the export credit agencies (ECAs) of all OECD member countries meet four times a year to review and, where necessary, adjust the classifications of individual countries.


Does SERV only issue insurance policies in Swiss francs?

SERV issues insurance policies in the usual, freely convertible currencies, but usually in the currency of the export transaction or the associated financing transaction (contract currency). The premium is generally payable in Swiss francs unless a different premium currency has been agreed on the application. SERV generally pays out compensation in the contract currency