Providing for Unforeseen Events – Insurance

Owning ‘things’ brings not only pleasure, but sometimes also headache. What if there is a storm and a tree falls on your house? Or what if the pipes burst on a freezing winter’s night? And how about that lovely iPhone 5s that Santa Claus brought your teenage daughter this December – will it survive her reign?

Below is an overview of the property and homeowners’ insurances offered by the various Dutch insurance companies.

Household Contents Insurance

A household contents insurance (inboedelverzekering) covers damage caused by, among others, fire, theft, lightning, explosion, precipitation, leaking pipes, and storm, to your possessions, such as your television, furniture, or valuable collectibles. But also your parquet floor, kitchen cabinets, bicycle, tools and garden furniture, including those located in the garage or some other building on your premises. In principle it also covers items such as your cell phone, laptop and tablet.

Other events and expenses that are covered include: power outages as a consequence of which the food in your refrigerator and freezer goes bad, the need for alternative accommodation, and clean-up or damage containment expenses.

The household contents insurance has been created for anything you use within your own home – in principle also other people’s possessions – including items you use for your profession or company. It will cover your items while you are moving from one home to another.

How Much?

Generally, the household contents insurance covers damages up to a certain maximum, for instance, € 100,000. Should your possessions be worth more, then you can take out additional insurance. Some insurance companies offer a guarantee against underinsurance: they will cover the full damages of the actual value of your possessions, though a maximum will still apply to jewelry, electronics and computers, art and antiques, and musical instruments.

Less is paid out in the case of theft of cash or other items – with, again, a maximum for electronic equipment or jewelry. If your house is well-secured against theft (for instance, your jewelry is in a safe), they may pay out the full amount of the value of your items.

Many (if not all) insurance companies will cover the purchase value of an item during the first year you have it in your possession – and sometimes longer. If the item needs to be repaired, they will pay the repair costs you incur – or else repair or replace it for you. If, due to wear and tear, your item is worth less than 40% of its purchase value, the insurance company will pay out its market value.

Some insurance companies have a compulsory deductible of approximately € 200 in the case of theft if you live in one of the big cities of the Netherlands, such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague, etc. If you submit more than one claim in three years, you may be faced with a deductible as well.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s Insurance (opstalverzekering) covers damage to your home, including your garage, carport, shed, office and surgery, caused by precipitation, leaking pipes, fire, storm, lightning, explosion, a short-circuit, theft and burglary. It covers not only the building itself, but also the pipes, heating system and bathrooms – anything that is ‘attached’ to the house.

Other expenses covered by the insurance include the costs of damage containment, alternative accommodation, and cleaning up.

How Much?

Should your house need to be repaired, this is covered by the insurance, usually to the full extent of the damage. If it needs to be rebuilt, some insurance companies cover a specified maximum and require you to take out additional insurance should your house be worth more. Other insurance companies don’t specify a maximum, but simply state that they cover the costs of building a new house. Beware, however, if your house is on the list of (municipal) monuments; you are then required to build a house that is ‘identical’ to the original house, or at least in keeping with its style. This is almost always more expensive than building a new home and the difference will not be covered unless you have taken out additional insurance.

In some cases, the insurance company may pay out the difference in market value before and after the damage occurred.

Glass

For your windows – including glass doors, cupolas, glass shower doors, skylights, etc. – you can take out additional glass insurance (glasverzekering). This will cover breakage, replacement, leakages between the panes of double glazing if the windows are not yet 10 years old, and the temporary covering of broken windows.

Owner’s Insurance

If you have renovated or added to a rental home or to an apartment you own, you can insure this renovation or addition through a so-called ‘owner’s’ insurance (eigenaarsbelangverzekering). This is of importance if, for example, you rent a home and redo the bathroom – as the more expensive bathroom will not be covered by the lessor’s household contents insurance.

If you own a studio, apartment, or a maisonette, the owners’ association may have arranged a homeowner’s insurance for you – based on an average value of your property. However, the value of your property may be higher – because you added a garage, a shed, a room to a ground floor apartment, or redid the kitchen, the bathroom, the floors, etc. The owner’s insurance covers damage caused to these renovations / additions by fire, leakage, lighting, theft, burglary, etc. A maximum amount may apply.

Out-Of-House Insurance

If you want your (daughter’s) cell phone, camera, jewelry, tablet, etc. to be covered when you leave your premises with them, you can also arrange out-of-house insurance (buitenshuisverzekering), in addition to your household contents insurance. Travel insurance will only cover these items once you take them abroad; this insurance also covers damage and theft within the country (and abroad). Depending on the age of your item, the insurance covers either the new purchase price, market value, or repair costs – or they may offer you a replacement. The following limitations may apply: if you use the item professionally, obviously carelessly, if you have borrowed or leased it, or if the damage is caused by normal wear and tear.

All Risk

Of course, if you want to cover virtually all types of damage, an all-risk insurance is available – including damage caused by you or members of your family.

General Limitations

To all of the above insurances, the following limitations apply: the insurance companies will not pay out in case of intentional damage, precipitation damage caused by open windows or doors, renovation-related damage (the contractor arranges Construction All Risk – CAR – insurance to cover this type of damage – if you are carrying renovations with the help of your friends, make sure everyone has liability insurance or else arrange CAR insurance yourself), earthquakes, shoddy maintenance, or if you have left the house unoccupied for a significant length of time (for instance, while it is being renovated; contact your insurance company to find out exactly what they do cover).

This is a general description of what is available out there; for some insurance companies it may be part of the general package, for others it may be additional/optional or simply not available, so always make sure you contact your prospective insurance company to find out exactly what they cover, including their rules on deductibles.