Beware of Vitzliputzlis!

The name “Vitzliputzli” brings to mind a quirky character from the Punch and Judy show or children trick-or-treating in Halloween costumes. Almost no one is truly afraid of these little spooks. However, the expression not only stands for harmless fun. It also evokes the image of the half-man, half-bird character Huitzilopochtli (1).This creature enjoyed spreading fear among those who unwittingly underestimated its power and influence.

By analogy, supposedly harmless independent or collateral covers against loss of income are discussed in Swiss Re’s technical brochure “The Vitzliputzlis of Business Interruption.” In this publication, the expression refers to additional covers that are often not considered by underwriters. They seem to slip almost unnoticed into Business Interruption (BI) policies. Yet, if not properly assessed, contained and priced, these underestimated extras can cause considerable harm to insurance and reinsurance portfolios.

Examples of “Vitzliputzlis” are covers for pecuniary losses following:

  • damage at customers’ and suppliers’ premises
  • power outages or other utilities failures
  • impaired attractiveness of the location
  • restricted or blocked access
  • public authorities' orders
  • IT failures due to the spread of computer viruses

If you would like to know more about the effects of these risks and how they  can be assessed, limited and made calculable, please order “The Vitzliputzlis of Business Interruption Insurance” from Swiss Re’s technical publishing services.


(1) According to Aztec mythology Huitzilopochtli was a god of war and patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. In his work Romanzero the famous German poet Heinrich Heine describes the contest of the former Mexican capital  which spelled a bloody end to those who paid too little attention to the hidden risks.


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