Guide to homeowners' insurance

29th July 2003, Comments 0 comments

Laura Martz explains what to look for when buying a policy for your home.

As most foreign residents eventually discover, housing in the Netherlands has its own particular set of perils. There's the risk of flooding. There's the question of whether the wooden piles underneath the house are rotten. And then there's what some consider the most frightening prospect of all: arranging homeowners' insurance wholly in Dutch.

A few Dutch insurance agencies specialise in serving foreign residents. Two are Overseas Insurance in Hoofddorp and Lobbes Insurance in Amsterdam.

Advisors like Sylvie Mellenbergh of Formula Two Relocations and Willem Lobbes, director of Lobbes Insurance, recommend both renters and owners take out inboedelverzekering - roughly, fire and theft insurance. It covers furniture and other possessions in the house in case of damage not caused by the owner, and can be tailored to cover various items. "For expensive equipment like PCs and cameras you can get extra insurance," Mellenbergh says.

She also suggests glasverzekering, or glass insurance, since landlords usually don't cover broken windows.

She also suggests glasverzekering, or glass insurance, since landlords usually don't cover broken windows.

Insuring the contents of a house ranges from NLG 2.60 to 3.50 annually per NLG 1,000 of value, depending on what's covered and where the house is. Insurance, like most things, costs more in the cities than it does in the countryside.

When you apply for a mortgage to buy a house, the lender is likely to request you get opstalverzekering, or building insurance, and turn you down if you don't, says Lobbes. Protecting a house from disaster varies between NLG 0.50 and 1.10 a year per thousand of "reconstruction value" as assessed by a real estate broker.

You can arrange to insure your house's pile foundation, which can be staggeringly expensive to replace. But taking out flood insurance is less easy; it's an obvious risk that insurers in a country below sea level are unwilling to take on.

"There's a government disaster fund for things like that, but it never covers the full amount," Lobbes says. His company places policies with Lloyd's of London, which does cover flooding.

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