Expat insurance: What insurances do expats need?

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When you move abroad, your insurance often doesn't move with you. Find out what insurance you are required to have in Belgium. [Contributed by ING Belgium]

Banking in Belgium – INGWe all want to protect ourselves against unforeseen, big-ticket mishaps even if it sometimes means paying a yearly hefty insurance premium.

Given that health insurance is mandatory and well-developed in Belgium and a vast subject in itself, it will not be covered in this article. There are, however, other obligatory and beneficial insurances to ease expats' lives while living in Belgium.

Fire, theft or civil liability insurance for your property (highly advisable and often contractually obliged) is the second most obvious example of a key insurance. Car insurance (legally mandatory in Belgium) is another.

Choosing insurance as an expat

Premiums may vary between insurance companies even if the conditions of the insurance are the same: check it out. But there are also many cases of low insurance premiums linked to a more limited cover of insurance. It is thus important to compare comparable insurance covers. Read what is covered and ask questions.

When you move between countries then some insurance covers do not continue. The car insurance is a typical example. The insurance company in your home country will often not have an offer to insure cars registered in your host country.

More peculiar is the situation with travel insurance. Unless you have an international insurance, a regular travel insurance policy will typically state in the terms and conditions that there is no longer insurance cover if you leave the country for a certain period of time. Do not forget to cancel such insurance and take out a new policy in the country of destination or an international insurance.

Expats of companies often get some insurance cover paid for by the company. Nevertheless it is important to check the reach of that cover. Who is included? Only the expat? Accompanying family? Does he or she need to be married for his or her partner to be included? What about same-sex partners? Or if a family member is studying abroad?

Double insurance is to be avoided, but no insurance is surely worse.

Last but not least there is insurance linked to you renting a house or apartment: Renter civil liability insurance. The landlord may include it in your rent. A good insurance gives you the option to also include the contents of your apartment or house, insurance against burglary, or a family insurance for damage to third parties, for example if your children accidently damage something at the neighbours, such as a breaking a window.

A thorough check on whether you have all the insurance you need is important. It may not only save you money but more importantly clarify for which risks you are not or under-insured in your new country of residence. When something bad happens it is too late to take out insurance for the past.


Contributed by Dave Deruytter, Head of Expats and Non-Residents / ING Belgium

ING Bank Belgium

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