Driving in Belgium? Get the right coverage for you and your car with our guide to car insurance in Belgium.
If you’ve ever taken part in the daily car race in and out of Brussels, then you’ll understand the importance of good auto insurance in Belgium. But what are your options when it comes to getting yourself and your car covered?
Our guide takes a look at the following issues:
- Introduction to car insurance in Belgium
- Types of car insurance in Belgium
- Additional forms of car insurance in Belgium
- Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Belgium
- Car insurance companies in Belgium
- How to choose car insurance in Belgium
- Applying for car insurance in Belgium
- How to make a car insurance claim in Belgium
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Belgium
- Roadside assistance in Belgium
- Useful resources
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Car insurance in Belgium
Car insurance in Belgium is mandatory to at least third-party liability coverage. It is the car rather than the driver that is insured, which means that anyone with a valid driving license can drive your car if it is insured. Because it is the vehicle that is insured, drivers have to take out additional policies if they own more than one vehicle. However, many insurers offer deals on multiple vehicle coverage.
Vehicle coverage is big business in Belgium. Auto insurance is the largest non-life insurance market in the country, with premiums totaling €3.7 billion in 2016. This outstrips property insurance at €2.8 billion and health insurance at €1.6 billion. As you might expect, this means you have plenty of options when taking out a policy. Car insurance providers in Beligum include:
If you’re confused by the choice, brokers like Hopala compare premiums from Belgium’s biggest insurers and help you get the right deal for you.
Can I use my car insurance in Belgium?
If you move to Belgium from another EU country, you can use your existing car insurance policy as long as it equates to at least third-party coverage. You typically need to register your car with the Belgian authorities unless you are staying in the country temporarily.
Drivers from outside of the EU/EFTA usually need to purchase Belgian car insurance. You may be exempt if you have bought an advanced policy in your home country that allows you to drive overseas, but you should check this in advance of your move.
Types of car insurance in Belgium
There are three main types of car insurance in Belgium.
Third-party liability (Responsabilité Civile/Wettelijke Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering)
The is the minimum level of auto insurance required by Belgian law. It covers death, bodily injury, or physical damage that you cause to another person in an incident where you are at fault. It also covers the cost of damage caused to other vehicles.
Third-party insurance doesn’t cover any of your own costs, whether relating to yourself or your vehicle. It’s a sensible policy to choose if you drive an inexpensive car or don’t drive very often.
Part comprehensive (Mini Omnium/Mini Casco)
This policy offers third-party coverage plus it covers damage to your own car caused by fire, natural disasters, storm damage, and collisions with animals on the road. It also covers the theft of your vehicle.
Part comprehensive doesn’t cover costs if you have an accident that is your fault. Most policies also exclude damage due to vandalism.
Fully comprehensive (Maxi Omnium/Maxi Casco)
Fully comprehensive policies in Belgium cover all general costs even when the driver of the insured car is at fault. However, there are common exclusions such as intentional damage. Some policies also exclude things such as legal costs and breakdown assistance which may need to be purchased as add-ons. Check for any exclusions before making your insurance purchase.
Fully comprehensive insurance is a good option if you have a new or expensive car, where the cost of replacing the car yourself in the event of an incident would be too great.
Costs and excess
Car insurance in Belgium can be costly and is subject to value-added tax (TVA/BTW). Fully comprehensive is naturally the most expensive insurance type, with third-party liability the cheapest. The eact cost of your insurance policy will be based on factors such as:
- the value and age of the vehicle;
- number of listed drivers of the vehicle;
- profile of the driver(s) – driving history, age, health, etc.;
- how much driving is done, with some insurers offering discounts on vehicles that clock up below a certain number of annual kilometers
You can also lower your car insurance costs by increasing your excess or deductible. This is the amount that you have to pay towards any claim you make. All insurers will have a compulsory excess but you can choose to increase this in order to reduce your monthly or annual premium.
Find out how much you will pay in Belgian car insurance using this calculation tool.
Additional forms of car insurance in Belgium
You can purchase supplementary insurance on top of your general policy to cover areas that might be excluded. These can include:
- Legal insurance – covers legal costs if you are in an incident that ends up in the courts.
- Driver injury insurance – this is a useful add-on to third party insurance as it covers your own medical expenses resulting from an accident.
- Roadside assistance – covers costs incurred if you breakdown while on a journey, such as vehicle towing and replacement transport costs.
- No claims protection – insures against your premium rising if you are in an accident that is your fault. You may have to have a good driving record to take this out, for example, no insurance claims in the previous three years.
Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Belgium
Like insurance in other European countries, a no-claims bonus scheme is the norm. Some Belgian insurance companies now call this a no-claims joker scheme with rewards attached for periods without any claims. It operates much the same as standard no-claims bonus schemes.
The bonus or reward you are entitled to for no-claims periods varies between insurers. Typically, you’ll get around a 10% discount after one year and this then rises every year up to a maximum period (usually 10–15 years).
If you have a previous no-claim record in another country, you can bring it with you to roll it over onto your new policy. Not all insurers will recognize claim-free driving experience you have accumulated abroad, but those that do offer up a discount for a good driving record.
Insurers are also free to apply penalties to drivers with a poor driving record. Your premiums are likely to rise if you:
- have been involved in any incidents which were your fault;
- have been found guilty of offenses such as speeding or drunk driving;
- are a young or inexperienced driver
Car insurance companies in Belgium
If you’re looking for car insurance in Belgium, there are plenty of options so it pays to shop around. You can either do this yourself, or you can use a comparison website. Car insurers in Belgium include the following:
If you’re unsure of which provider to choose, you might want to consider using a comparison service. Insurance brokers like Hopala compare the premiums on offer with Belgium’s biggest insurers and ensure you get the right deal for you.
How to choose car insurance in Belgium
When choosing car insurance in Belgium, it’s important to consider a variety of factors other than just opting for the cheapest. You should give thought to:
- Excess/deductible – what is the mandatory amount you will have to pay towards a claim and what options do you have to increase it?
- Coverage and exclusions – look through the fine print to see exactly what is and isn’t eligible for coverage. Does it meet your requirements? What are the options and costs for add-ons?
- Company reputation – check online reviews, annual industry ratings and customer feedback so see if the real world experience matches up to the company advertisements.
- Claims process – how easy is it to make a claim and how quickly will you get reimbursed?
- Rewards and bonuses – what does the company offer in terms of no-claims? Can you use no-claims periods from other insurers or countries?
- Ethical performance – how well does the company perform in areas such as environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and worker rights? You can compare insurers using ratings compiled by assessors such as Ethical Consumer.
Applying for car insurance in Belgium
Applying for car insurance in Belgium is pretty straightforward. Most of the bigger companies allow you to apply online so you can do it in a matter of minutes. You will usually get a decision within a couple of days.
The exact application process varies according to the insurer. You will typically need to provide:
- valid ID to prove that you are at least 18 years old;
- proof of Belgian address such as a recent utility bill;
- vehicle registration details to prove that your car is registered in Belgium
Once you have taken out a policy, the company will issue you with a Green Card (European motor insurance certificate) and an accident report form. You should keep these in your car at all times, since the police can demand to see it.
How to make a car insurance claim in Belgium
If you need to make a car insurance claim in Belgium, you should do the following:
- fill out your accident report form if involved in an accident;
- make sure you take down the names, addresses, car registration details and Green Card details of all other parties involved in the event of an accident;
- also get the names and addresses of any witnesses in the event of an accident;
- submit your insurance claim to your insurer. Typically, this is done over the phone but some companies may allow e-mail or online submissions;
- if the police were called as a result of an accident, ask for a copy of the police report. You should send a copy of this and the accident report form to your insurer to support your claim;
- take pictures of any damage to your vehicle to support your claim
You should submit your claim within one week of the incident. Following this, your insurer will provide you with a claim number and details of your claim manager.
Cancelling a contract or changing provider
If you want to cancel a car insurance policy in Belgium, you typically need to give at least three months’ notice. Most Belgian insurers have their own cancelations process which usually involves submitting a cancelation letter within the cancelation period. Companies often have letter templates or instructions for what to include on their website.
You can sometimes ask for a shorter cancelation period which needs to be agreed with your insurer upfront. This is usually granted for reasons such as if you work in Belgium temporarily and may need to move at short notice.
You are free to change insurance provider in Belgium at any time as long as you work through the notice period with your existing insurer. Some companies offer to deal with all of the administration involved with switching to them free of charge, as a way of attracting new customers.
Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Belgium
If you wish to complain about an insurance company in Belgium, you should follow these steps:
- Step one – try to resolve the dispute with your insurer first. All companies should have a complaints department which should detail the procedures to follow.
- Step two – if you are not happy with the outcome, you can take the complaint to the Insurance Ombudsman who will review your dispute. You will need to submit a complaint in writing that describes your problem and contains all the necessary details of your complaint to the insurance company (e.g., file reference number).
- Step three – if you are still dissatisfied, you can take the matter to court However, this can be costly so you should be sure to have a strong case before doing this.
Roadside assistance in Belgium
Many Belgian car insurance companies offer roadside assistance or breakdown assistance coverage, either as a standalone policy or as part of fully comprehensive insurance.
Another option is to join a membership club. In Belgium, organizations such as VAB and the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium (RACB) offer roadside assistance to members across the country, with overseas coverage available, too.
There are various different cost packages available, ranging from basic breakdown assistance to advanced packages which include global medical assistance, repair costs, and replacement transport costs.