Insurance in Belgium
Detailing health, home and car insurance in Belgium, here is our comprehensive guide to getting good insurance coverage in Belgium.
Health insurance in Belgium
Healthcare insurance is a part of the Belgian Social Security system and to benefit you must join a health insurance fund mutuelle (mutualité)/ ziekenfonds (mutualiteit). Once you are employed by a Belgian company your contributions and those of your employer will be automatically deducted from your salary by the ONSS (National Office of Social Security). After you are registered with a health insurance fund, it will deal with reimbursing your medical costs. Dependent family members will be automatically covered by the same fund. To take you on, the fund will need written certification of employment signed by your employer.
Although most funds are affiliated to a religious or political institution, there is no real difference because reimbursement rates are fixed by the government. However, you are free to choose one that best suits your needs, for example if one provides more cover for alternative medicine, or has multilingual services. These funds do not, however, cover 100 percent of your bills; you may get around half to three-quarters of a typical doctor or specialist appointment. Check also with your doctor if what is prescribed is refundable. Pharmacies maintain a state-advised list. Consequently, some people opt for additional private insurance (complémentaire).
Once insured you get a standardised credit card style SIS card, which you will need in pharmacies and hospitals. You also get a sheet of stickers (vignettes), which you need to attach to a doctor’s bill to get a refund.
Car insurance in Belgium
Belgian car insurance is expensive, and it is the car not the driver that is insured. This means that anyone can drive your car, but you’ll need to ask for additional insurance if you want coverage for driver injury. The minimum insurance required by Belgian law is Third- Party Liability (Responsabilité Civile/Wetteligjke Aansprakelijkheids Verzekering), which covers death, bodily injury or physical damage that you cause to another person. You can opt for Fully Comprehensive coverage, which provides for most eventualities including vandalism, fire, theft, or damage resulting from a collision. There is also a Part Comprehensive cover, which includes third party along with fire cover. Like insurance in other European nations, a no-claims bonus scheme is the norm. If you have a previous no-claim record in another country, you can bring it with you or may even be asked to present it.
The insurance company will issue you with a Green Card and an accident report form, both of which you must keep in your car at all times. Ask for additional copies of the report in French, Dutch and your language, so you can complete it more easily. If an accident happens, do the following:
- Ask for the other driver’s Green Card as proof of insurance.
- Get the names and addresses of any witnesses before they leave the scene.
- Fill in the accident report form (and get both parties to sign).
- Send the form within one week.
Home insurance in Belgium
Whether you own or rent your property, you will need to get home insurance. Almost all rental agreements in Belgium require the tenant to take out insurance on the rented property within 30 days of signing a lease. This is because the Belgian Civil Code holds the tenant responsible for any damage to the building unless proof can be given that it was not his/her fault. If you are renting, take your lease with you when you arrange your insurance. You are responsible for providing coverage against third-party liability, but the owner is required to have a policy covering the property against earthquakes, lightning, fire, etc. If you are in furnished accommodation, you are generally required to take out insurance against damage to the landlord’s furniture.
Homeowners may have a policy linked to their mortgage, otherwise there is no obligation to do this. However, homebuyers are responsible for the insurance after signing the compromis de vente – around four months before they get the keys. Contents insurance is not compulsory but advisable. Remember that theft may no be not covered automatically in contents insurance, but available as an option. Valuable personal items, such as jewellery or cameras, may require an All Risks policy, which will cover you for damage or loss in or out of the home. Premiums on desirables such as laptop computers tend to be high.
Additionally, if you employ a part-time or full-time cleaner or nanny you need to take out special low-cost liability insurance in case they injure themselves on the job; for instance, slipping on the stairs.
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Updated from 2012.