Home insurance in Belgium can protect you if you suffer loss or damage to your household contents in a natural disaster, accident, or break-in. Here’s an overview of what’s available and how it works.
This guide to home insurance in Belgium covers all the necessities, including topics such as:
- Introduction to home insurance in Belgium
- Types of Belgian home insurance
- Home insurance costs in Belgium
- Choosing home insurance in Belgium
- Applying for Belgian home insurance
- How to make a home insurance claim in Belgium
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Holiday home insurance in Belgium
- Useful contacts
Introduction to home insurance in Belgium
Home insurance in Belgium is available through most companies as a package consisting of both building insurance and home contents insurance.
While property and contents coverage are usually packaged together, it is also possible to purchase standalone contents insurance with some brokers if, for example, you are renting a property that already has building insurance.
Although home insurance in Belgium is not compulsory for homeowners, many mortgage providers stipulate that you must purchase coverage as one of their conditions. Around 95% of homeowners in Belgium have a home insurance policy.
With rental properties, the law has changed in 2019. Tenants in Flanders now have to take out property insurance on rented accommodation not covered by a policy. The same law applies in Wallonia from September 2020. However, no laws are yet in place in Brussels.
Property insurance is the second-largest private insurance sector in Belgium after car insurance, representing a 23.9% share in the Belgian non-life insurance market according to 2016 figures. Belgian home insurance providers are regulated by the Financial Services and Markets Authority and include:
With this choice and more, working out which policy is right for you can be challenging for expats. To make your life easier, consider using a comparison platform like Hopala to save yourself time and money when signing up.
Can you use home insurance from another country in Belgium?
It might be possible to transfer your home contents insurance policy over from your home country if you have purchased the necessary coverage that includes protection to your belongings overseas.
However, this will only cover goods that you bring with you. If you want to insure the building or any furnishings already provided with it, or if your mortgage provider or tenancy agreement requires you to take out property insurance, then you will need to take out a new insurance policy with a Belgian company or an international broker operating in Belgium.
Types of Belgian home insurance
Home insurance for homeowners
This policy typically protects both the building (including windows) and your movable belongings, although you don’t have to include home contents if you don’t want to.
Coverage usually includes:
- fire damage
- water damage
- theft or vandalism
- storm damage
As with any insurance policy, there will be exclusions that are not covered. Typically, these will be scenarios such as:
- deliberate damage
- damage where you are at fault
- negligence, for example if you are burgled after leaving doors unlocked or if storm damage is due to you leaving windows open
- damage caused by construction work that you carry out or commission
There may additionally be limitations to some coverage, such as basic policies not covering some types of storm damage or natural disasters. Check with your insurer for details.
Most brokers offer a range of add-ons if you want to increase coverage for a higher premium. This might be for things such as:
- coverage for garden equipment or on-site swimming pools
- vehicle coverage
- medical costs
- costs of alternative temporary accommodation
- out-of-home coverage, for example belongings taken away on holiday or day trips
- valuable not covered by standard policies, e.g. expensive artwork
Companies will usually pay out based on the value of goods damaged or lost; however, this is only up to a maximum amount that is stipulated in your insurance contract.
Most homeowner insurance contracts have a clause that states they will not pay out if the property has been left unattended for more than 180 days.
Home insurance for tenants
Insurance for tenants is broadly similar to homeowner policies in terms of what is covered, excluded, and optional. The main differences regarding exclusions are that policies won’t pay out for things that are the responsibility of the landlord. For example, if you live in a block of flats and there is external damage that affects your home, the landlord would need to claim on their own insurance.
Some companies offer add-ons for costs such as landlord fees incurred if you have to leave the tenancy early, legal protection if you’re taken to court, or the costs of upgrading furnishings if you have to return the property to its original state when leaving. However, policies generally don’t cover general wear and tear of items.
All-inclusive home insurance
This type of insurance policy combines the above home insurance with personal liability insurance. With this policy, you are also protected in the event of injuries to a third party or damages to their property due to an accident on your property or caused by your property.
As with the above policies, there will be limitations and exclusions such as if injuries or damages occur due to deliberate actions or gross negligence.
Many of the large Belgian insurers will either offer all-inclusive home insurance policies or have third party liability available as an optional extra on a standard policy.
Home contents insurance costs in Belgium
Your home insurance in Belgium will be priced according to a number of factors, including things such as:
- The value of the property and any contents included in the policy;
- The level of coverage you opt for, including any optional extras;
- Your insurance profile (renewing customers who haven’t made claims are often eligible for discounts);
- The profile of the neighborhood where your home is located;
- If you are paying an excess (amount you agree to pay towards any claim made) and how much this is.
Because of the different variables, it’s difficult to come up with accurate approximate costs. Basic policies often range between €5-10 a month but can be more. You can calculate costs for homeowners home insurance here and for tenants home insurance here.
Choosing home insurance in Belgium
With home insurance proving popular among both homeowners and tenants in Belgium, there are plenty of insurance companies to choose from when looking for policies. Providers include:
It’s a good idea to consider a few factors aside from price when comparing insurance brokers. Questions you may want to consider include:
- What is offered with the basic policy and what add-ons are available?
- Do you have to pay an excess and how does this affect the premium?
- What is the company reputation like? Check customer review sites or any articles in consumer magazines.
- How much can you save with an all-inclusive policy?
- What incentives are offered, e.g., long-term customer discounts?
- Are the claims and cancellation processes straightforward?
- Is it an ethical company with a good record in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? This is something that is becoming increasingly important with today’s consumers.
Applying for Belgian home insurance
You can apply for home insurance in Belgium online with most of the major providers. Alternatively, you can apply over the phone or in-person if the company has a high street outlet.
You normally need to provide your address, valid ID, and bank details (read up on how to open a bank account in Belgium) and answer a few questions so that the insurer can assess your profile and the level of coverage you require. Once your annual/monthly premium is calculated, you can choose whether or not to proceed and purchase coverage.
If you apply online, you will usually receive everything electronically by email within 24 hours. This includes insurance certificate and information relating to your policy, such as claims and cancellation procedures.
How to make a Belgian home contents insurance claim
Procedures for claiming insurance will vary between companies. Many Belgian insurance companies now allow claimants to submit via an online claims form. You can also phone through a claim or use a hard copy of the claim form and send it through the post.
Check with your insurer to see if there are deadlines for making an insurance claim. This may be particularly important with theft claims, which sometimes have a smaller window of time for claiming and may need to have an accompanying police report.
Once you have made your claim, it will be assessed by a claims manager and you will be given a claim reference number. You will normally hear back from your insurer within around 10-15 working days.
If you are unhappy with the outcome, however, contact the complaints department of the insurer in the first instance. You can take the complaint to the Insurance Ombudsman if you don’t agree with how your complaint has been dealt with.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
Belgian insurance contracts typically run for 12 months and many may be automatically renewing, meaning that you need to inform the company in advance should you wish to cancel or change to another provider.
Your insurance company should outline its cancellations policy in the documents sent to you when you sign up. The policy should clearly explain how much advance notice you need to give upon canceling. Typically, this can be anything between 1-3 months.
You need to cancel in writing. This could be by postal letter or e-mail. If you want to cancel by e-mail, make sure this is permitted and that you have a specific cancellation e-mail address to send to. Some companies may have an online cancellation form available on their website.
All companies should give you an initial cooling off period of 14 days after signing up. During this time, you can freely cancel the contract without incurring charges.
Most companies will allow early cancellation under circumstances such as selling or moving property, or if your personal circumstances change greatly and you no longer require home insurance. Companies will also often allow you to transfer a policy if you move to another Belgian home.
Holiday home insurance in Belgium
Belgium is a popular year-round holiday destination. Many people own Belgian holiday homes or second homes. However, home insurance policies rarely extend to coverage of more than one property.
If you have a holiday home or second home in Belgium, you can take out additional coverage that will protect against specific risks such as damage to unattended property and non-payment of rental income if you lease out the home.
Renters of Belgian holiday homes will normally have coverage of any movable property within the home included within rental costs, however, this will not cover additional belongings taken into the home for the duration of the holiday. Check to see if you can extend your standard home contents insurance policy to include vacations and overnight stays elsewhere.