What expats should know about insurance in the Netherlands

If you’re from certain countries such as the UK or US the attitude to unfortunate situations can often be focused on blame – with people quick to point fingers. But even well intentioned people can make mistakes. Within the Netherlands, there is recognition that accidents happen – “Helaas pindakaas!” 

This has impacted aspects of Dutch life such as the cycling infrastructure. It also means that insurance is set up differently to what many expats will be familiar with.

For many expats, the way that insurance works in the Netherlands will feel alien. So, we sat down with Katinka Slegt, owner of Slegt Insurance, about what expats need to understand about insurance within the Netherlands. This family-owned business has been advising personal and commercial clients since 1972, going the extra mile to help during difficult circumstances.  

 

HTBAH: What do most expats get wrong about insurance in the Netherlands? 

Katinka: Probably the most common misunderstanding is simply: It is your responsibility to get your own insurance. Even if the problem is coming from someone else. For instance, say your apartment is flooded because water is coming from a broken pipe from the upstairs neighbour. According to Dutch law, your neighbour is not liable because they can’t help that their pipe broke. A pipe leaking is unexpected, but to an extent, it is so common it is to be expected.

If you don’t have sufficient cover in this situation, it is possible to claim against the neighbour’s insurance, but with some significant limitations. For instance, all items damaged will be reimbursed at a diminished rate, taking into account the age of the product. Whereas, your own insurance will likely cover the full, original, value of the item.

One other common mistake is failing to read the terms and conditions. Up until recently there are no insurance companies in the Netherlands who provide them in English. We do have an agreement with a major insurance company to get them translated – but this is rare. It’s for this reason that working with an insurance broker like ourselves, who are used to dealing with expats, can provide more safeguards. We can help you understand the terms and conditions and ensure there is nothing that causes issues down the line.

HTBAH: A lot of people view insurance and insurers with suspicion. What do you say to this? What should expats look for in a good insurer? 

Katinka: In certain countries insurance companies prefer to say no before they say yes. When disaster strikes you want to know you can rely on your insurance and that the process won’t be long winded. So I can understand the suspicion that some people may have. I see that as less of a problem in the Netherlands, but I still think it is very important to choose the right policy now to save yourself stress later.

It’s also important that you continue to keep the insurer up to date on any new, expensive possessions you might have. We check in with our clients regularly – do they have new jewelry? Or art? Or electronics? Then it may be necessary to amend your policy and ensure they are covered.

Having these ongoing conversations helps our clients have peace of mind, knowing that they will likely have a quick resolution if something unfortunate happens.  

The other thing I always say is: Insurance doesn’t sleep. Burglars don’t keep to office hours. Pipes don’t break just between 9AM and 5PM. I think some of the suspicion is because insurers always talk about emergencies and urgency, but few are available when you actually need them. We always ensure two people are on call at our office, so that if an issue arises it can be resolved and we can provide support 24/7. 

 

Slegt Insurance Team

HTBAH: Are there any other types of insurance, apart from the usual, that people should consider?

Katinka: The standard insurances you should have are liability, health and home insurance. If you own a car, then car insurance as well. 

I often suggest expats consider legal aid insurance. When you first come to the Netherlands you won’t know dutch law – and we have seen many expats end up in difficult legal situations with an employer, landlord, doctor, etc.

So for the first year at least, until you become more familiar with the Netherlands, it can be useful to have. Legal aid, without insurance, isn’t cheap. It can easily cost €200-300 per hour. So if you do have any problems, then it’s good to have this safety net. 

That’s the main one I would suggest. But of course there is also travel insurance, jewelry, art, etc. 

Finally, if you own an apartment then you will usually have building insurance via the housing association. However, this does not cover renovations. If you are making significant improvements many people don’t realise that they should take out renovation insurance to ensure you are protected.  

 

HTBAH: This sounds like it can get quite complex. How can expats clearly understand what they need?

Katinka: There’s certainly a lot of choice when it comes to insurance in the Netherlands. We actually offer risk management consultancy – and this focuses on preventing disruption. In your personal or professional life. So we’ll discuss how you can safeguard yourself and ask questions such as: Do you have good locks? Do you have secure windows? Do you have a smoke detector? 

We have a vast network to support this. So while we can help with insurance, which is a vital component, we also want to help you get to a point where you’re less likely to be disrupted and need to claim. 

And if you have a problem, then we’re always available by phone, seven days a week – and we can connect you with contractors. So we do go beyond “just” insurance, helping you to fix the problem and limit disruption.

 

Slegt Insurance is a member of our Expat Orientated Organisation certification, meaning that they have proved themselves as a business capable and ready to assist expats and their needs.