Essential Insurance Guide for Expats Relocating to Belgium

By Alain Voets, Account Director International Organisations, Embassies and Expatriates at Concordia

Above average work-life balance, high-quality education, great healthcare and personal security, make Belgium an excellent choice for you and your family. Brussels is home to numerous European and international institutions & organisations which make it a major decision-making centre. The countries capital is not the only suitable choice, with Ghent and Antwerp ranking even higher for the quality of life on Numbeo. According to the Federal Bureau of statistics Statbel, the average gross monthly salary in Belgium in 2016 was 3,489 euro. The high standards of living and working in Belgium have made it a popular destination for expats. Currently, reaching to 750,000 expats.

Moving to another country is a very exciting step, but a lot of decisions need to be made before settling down. If you are moving to Belgium, certain insurances become compulsory once you become an official Belgian resident. At Concordia, we empower companies and people to go further, by making them aware of tomorrow’s risks. With a range of products and services adapted for expats and diplomats, Concordia insures and manages, so you can perform. In this article, we will cover three essential insurances for expats relocating to Belgium.

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Healthcare insurance

As a part of the social security system, healthcare insurance is mandatory for all residents in Belgium. If you are moving with your spouse and children, they too will be included in your plan while they are your dependents. 

There are probably a number of differences when comparing the Belgian healthcare system to your home country’s public healthcare. In Belgium, we do not make a distinction between public and private hospitals, for example. In a lot of European countries, there’s no need to pay a fee when you visit a doctor, whereas in Belgium you have to pay for your visitation and are later reimbursed by the social security.

Only up to 70% of medical expenses are covered, and it is common to have a supplementary inpatient and dental treatment costs insurance. Many Belgians and expats alike choose to take out additional private insurance to cover excess payments and take as well an outpatient and optical insurance.

Apart from language, culture and habits, insurances differ from one country to another. Our staff is multilingual and are aware of the specific needs and demands of expats. Choosing the right insurance for your particular needs is not easy. That’s why Concordia starts with listening to your needs and aims to provide a sustainable solution that is financially and socially the best choice for you.

Are you a parent? When getting private health insurance, premiums have to be paid for each member of the household, including your spouse and children. Do you travel frequently? If so, a package that covers your medical expenses abroad is more suitable for you. If you are an EU citizen, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a great solution when seeking medical assistance within the European Union as it allows you to receive care according to the standards of the country you are visiting. The EHIC card can be used in Belgium only if another EU member country issued it.

Car insurance

Becoming a permanent resident of Belgium requires having Belgian car insurance, regardless of whether the car is newly bought or imported from your last home. In Belgium there are three levels of insurances:

1. Third-party liability -This covers material damage and physical damage (bodily injury or death) that you cause in a car accident where you are held responsible to any third party.

2. Partial comprehensive cover (Mini-OMNIUM) - This covers material damage to your car for fire, theft, hail, ice and snow pressure, natural catastrophes and hit by animals.

3. Fully comprehensive cover (Full OMNIUM) – This covers material damage under the Mini-Omnium, as well as car repairs to own car when held responsible for the car accident or the third-party is not known. In this case, a deductible is mainly applicable.

You can opt for any of these covers, but the minimum insurance required by Belgian law is Third-Party Liability. Once decided on an insurance policy, the company will issue you with an International Motor Insurance Card (commonly called “Green Card”). This card, as well as an accident report form, has to be kept in the car at all times. You can ask for a copy in the language of preference, so it is easier for you to complete it. 

Your No-Claims Certificate showing good driving record may earn you a discount on your insurance plan in Belgium, so take it from your previous locations from the past 5 years as some insurers may even ask you to submit it.

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Fire(home) insurance

In our experience, expats are mainly renting and in general, do not buy a property at first. However, no matter if a property is purchased or leased, it will probably need home insurance. Even though it is not required by law, most of the rental contracts in Belgium ask the tenant to take out the home insurance policy with coverage against third-party liability while the property owner is responsible for having insurance that includes coverage in case of a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, a flood or similar.

It is important to point out that according to the Belgian Civil Code, you - as the tenant - are responsible for any damage to the property (building, house or apartment) unless you can prove otherwise. This is called the tenants’ liability If you are planning to rent a furnished apartment, make sure your policy includes content insurance that covers you in case of any damage to the landlord’s furniture.

The Fire insurance not only insures the building but in addition, you can insure the content, which refers to everything that can be moved, so personal belongings. For example, the kitchen is fixed to the building and cannot be removed and fall under the tenants’ liability.

Private life insurance

Private life insurance is often overlooked, but the impact of not having it can be significant. Imagine your children are visiting a family member or they go on a playdate at your neighbor’s place, and suddenly they fall or hit one of their friends - or let something valuable fall. In the first case medical costs might have to be paid by their parents or the expensive “vase” might have to be reimbursed out-of-pocket. Or, imagine your dog went through the neighbor’s fence, and repairment is needed. The costs for the repair are charged to the dog's owner. All of these examples are unnecessary risks when for a small amount, you and your family could have been covered by private life insurance.

Being an expat, diplomat or supranational means having very specific insurance requirements. At Concordia, we understand your needs and the expat community in Belgium knows us. If you are considering relocating to Belgium, count on our multilingual staff to understand your needs, guide you through the specific Belgian rules and regulations and help you get the right healthcare, car, fire & private life insurance and beyond.