Discover the key types of mandatory and optional insurance in Belgium that you will need as an expat, including car, health, and life insurance.Certain types of insurance in Belgium become compulsory once you become an official Belgian resident. This guide, provided by health insurance provider Partena, explains which types of cover are necessary and offers advice on how to find insurance companies when moving there. This guide covers the following:
- Overview of insurance in Belgium
- Which insurance in Belgium is legally required?
- Optional forms of insurance in Belgium
- Commercial insurance in Belgium
- Insurance companies in Belgium
- Tools for comparing insurance in Belgium
- Useful resources
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Overview of insurance in BelgiumThere are around a dozen types of insurance available to residents of Belgium, although not all are compulsory. Only a handful of providers dominate the insurance market; some of these provide everything from individual car insurance to commercial cover. That said, there are many policies available in Belgium, so consumers could save money by shopping around. Citizens of Belgium are particularly well-covered when it comes to healthcare, with data from the European Commission showing that state insurance covers 99% of the population. The insurance market in Belgium is regulated by the Financial Services and Markets Authority, and insurers are often represented by their industry body, Assuralia.
Which insurance in Belgium is legally required?Of all the different types of insurance in Belgium, only a few are required by law. These are as follows:
Health insuranceAfter moving to Belgium, you will need to join an insurance fund to benefit from the country’s state health insurance (mutuelle), which forms an integral part of the social security system. Workers in Belgium pay around 13% of their salaries in social security contributions. The system works like this: if you fall ill, the health insurance fund reimburses a proportion of your medical costs – for example 75% of your bills for visiting a doctor. Some expats elect to take additional private health insurance to cover the remaining costs and additional types of treatment such as dental care. There are a range of health insurance providers in Belgium to choose from, including the following: You can find out more in our comprehensive guide to health insurance in Belgium.
Car insuranceIn Belgium, the vehicle rather than the driver is insured; therefore anyone can drive your car once you have taken out a policy. By law, drivers in Belgium must have third-party car insurance (assurance auto), which covers any damage you cause to another driver or their vehicle. Some drivers choose to opt for additional fire cover or fully comprehensive coverage. This includes damage from any accidents, thefts, or vandalism. Belgian insurance companies generally offer no-claims bonuses, and the cost of insurance will vary based on your circumstances and claim history. When you take out a policy, your insurance company will issue you with a Green Card and an accident report form. You must keep both of these in your car at all times. Find out more in our guide to car insurance in Belgium.
Unemployment insuranceUnemployment insurance is mandatory in Belgium, with employees and employers making contributions through social security. The money goes into an unemployment fund, from which workers who have lost their job can claim up to 60% (55% for married people) of their salary while they search for a new job. Belgium has relatively low levels of unemployment, with data from Statbel showing that only 5.7% of people were unemployed in the first quarter of 2019, the lowest level since 1983.
Optional forms of insurance in BelgiumAlthough the following types of insurance are non-compulsory if you are an expat living in Belgium, some of them are just as essential.
Home insuranceHomeowners and tenants in Belgium typically take out home insurance policies (assurance habitation) to protect their property and belongings. While these aren’t required by law, you are likely to find that your mortgage company or landlord insists on you having some kind of cover. As a homeowner, you are likely to need both buildings and contents insurance. The former can be particularly useful if something major goes wrong with your property, as external repairs can be very expensive. The latter, meanwhile, protects you against any loss through burglaries. Tenants renting a property in Belgium may only require contents insurance; to cover their belongings and those of their landlord if living in a furnished property. In rented properties, the landlord is responsible for insuring the building. Home insurance policies of all shapes and sizes are available from insurers such as Immoweb.
Life insuranceLife insurance policies (assurance-vie) offer a financial settlement for your loved ones should you pass away. You can generally take out a package in your own name or a joint policy alongside your partner. Premiums vary but are likely to be more expensive if you have an existing illness. Insurance companies will usually allow you to select the amount of insurance you want (in thousands of Euros, known as the sum insured), and will calculate your premium based on this and your medical history.
Travel insuranceTaking out travel insurance (assurance voyage) as a Belgian resident is fairly straightforward, with a host of insurers offering general and specialist packages. The policies on offer in Belgium usually cover accidents, medical expenses, luggage insurance, and third party liability. Some insurers will allow you to increase your level of cover to include trip cancellations or delays. If you are going on a higher-risk holiday – for example one where you will take part in winter sports such as skiing – you will need to take out a specialist policy or upgrade your standard one at an extra cost.
Family and personal liability insuranceAccording to data from KBC Bank, nearly 90% of Belgians have family insurance, even though it isn’t compulsory to take out a policy. Family insurance policies usually cover personal third party liability. Claims in this area can vary considerably, but common claims include instances such as fallen trees or water leaks in your home causing damage to a neighbor’s property. Premiums are relatively low-cost, so this type of insurance can be a good idea to protect you against any accidents or errors caused by your negligence. Some companies allow you to increase your policy to cover any costs caused by your dog – for example, if it bites somebody or it needs taking care of if you fall ill.
Pet insurancePet insurance schemes in Belgium are available to cover the costs of any medical bills, tests, or surgery that your pet requires. It is possible to obtain pet insurance for as little as €135 a year, but these costs can increase significantly depending on your type of pet, the pet’s medical history, and the level of cover you require.
Self-employed insuranceIf you are self-employed in Belgium, you are entitled to basic social protection, but you must join a social insurance fund to obtain this. The overall sum you will need to contribute depends on your income. The standard coverage includes the likes of health insurance, child benefit, and state pension. As with employees, self-employed people can take out extra insurance policies to cover other areas. You can find out more about this on the website of the National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed.
Legal insuranceLegal insurance is an optional type of cover that will help you pay the costs of any legal action, such as solicitors fees, should you be involved in a dispute. Policies are usually offered with a maximum pay-out sum and exclusions apply depending on how expensive and wide-ranging the policy is.
Commercial insurance in Belgium
General liability insuranceCompanies in Belgium can take out general liability insurance to cover themselves against accidents or damage to third parties. Some bigger insurance companies offer liability insurance packages for specific industries (e.g. the food industry). This cover comes with some exceptions such as for gross negligence.
Property insuranceProperty insurance for Belgian companies comes in many shapes and sizes. As well as insuring the buildings the company owns, the policy can also cover electronic items such as machinery or computers. How much these policies cost varies significantly depending on the industry, size of company, and the specific risks involved.
Worker’s compensationAs an employer in Belgium, you need to ensure that you have accident insurance for your staff. You are required to do this by law, otherwise you risk a fine or even imprisonment. Accident insurance reassures your employees that they will be suitably compensated for medical treatment and loss of earnings; should they get injured or become unwell in the workplace. This insurance is widely available; some insurance companies even offer policies that protect workers when they are working remotely or from home.
Insurance companies in BelgiumThe number of insurance companies in Belgium has decreased in the past five to 10 years. There are now around 80 insurance companies operating in the market. See our directory for insurance companies in Belgium.
Tools for comparing insurance in BelgiumThere are a whole range of insurance brokers in Belgium, from whom you can obtain advice on finding the right policy for your needs. It is also possible to use calculators on the website of individual insurers to obtain basic quotes. If you would rather get an idea of the cost of insurance yourself, you can use these tools:
- Expatica’s health insurance quotes tool (to compare the cost of a health insurance policy in Belgium)
- Assurauto (compare car insurance quotes)