Before signing your contract, ask your landlord about fire insurance. Prevention is better than cure.
Three reasons to take out fire insurance
- Tenant's liability
"The Civil Code states that the responsibility for all consequences of fire and related hazards lie with the tenant unless they can prove that the cause of the fire was not their fault."
As a tenant, you will have to pay for any damage to the property unless you can prove that the damage was caused by:
- events beyond your control (force majeure);
- a third party (neighbours);
- a defect in the building.
A fire can cause significant damage. It is not enough that the landlord insures the house. After the landlord's insurance provider has reimbursed them for damage to the building, they will attempt to recover the compensation costs from the tenant.
- Liability vis-à-vis third parties
If the fire spreads to your neighbour's house and damages it you will be held liable for the damage to your neighbour's property. The neighbour, or their insurance provider, will then try to recover the compensation from you.
- Personal effects
As a tenant, you can also suffer significant material damage if your personal effects go up in smoke. It is in your interest to insure them against the risk of damage. Please note that theft is not included in this type of insurance plan.
How can you arrange insurance as a staff member?
International staff (who receive a salary or grant through the HR Department) can take out tenant’s liability insurance through the university. More information about this insurance can be found on the University of Antwerp’s intranet (Pintra).
Most banks and insurance companies in Belgium also provide tenant liability insurance. It is advisable to take your rental agreement with you when arranging your tenant liability insurance.
How can you arrange insurance as a student?
As a tenant, it is in your interest to be sufficiently insured. You can do this in various ways:
1. Through your landlord
1.1 Tenant's liability
Your landlord can make sure that both their own property and the liability of the tenant(s) are insured by their insurance policy. They can then pass on the additional cost of this to you in the rent. The landlord's insurance provider will cover any damage to the building and its contents (the tenant's personal effects) under this insurance policy and will not try to recover the losses from you, the tenant.
The rental agreement must state clearly that the landlord waives the recovery of losses from the tenant, and that they will instead recover any losses through the insurance provider.
In principle, the tenant will not require any extra fire insurance in this case to cover 'tenant's liability'. Are you renting a room? Then check if there is a waiver of recovery. Read your rental agreement or ask your landlord.
Please note, however, that having fire insurance with a ‘waiver of recovery’ does not mean that you are not at risk as a tenant. Even if your landlord has a fire insurance policy that includes a waiver of recovery, this will not entirely negate the need for the tenant to be insured:
- usually, the tenant's liability vis-à-vis third parties is not covered unless the landlord extends their fire insurance policy to include this risk
- your personal effects are not covered.
1.2 Liability vis-à-vis third parties
Your liability vis-à-vis third parties (for example, the other tenants of the student residence or the neighbours) can also be covered by your landlord's insurance policy. Ask your landlord for more information! If the landlord's insurance (with waiver of recovery) does not cover this risk, it is in your interest to make the necessary supplementary arrangements:
by having your parents extend their fire insurance policy to cover this (check this with an insurance broker or your parents' insurer). Please note that you can only do this if your parental address is your official address;
by taking out separate insurance for this.
1.3 Personal effects (not mandatory)
The landlord's insurance will not cover any damage to your personal effects! Your parents' fire insurance may cover your personal effects and furniture, since they have been temporarily moved to your student accommodation. Check this in your parents' insurance policy.
This is only possible if you are still registered as living at home! If this risk is not covered, we recommend taking out a separate insurance policy with an insurer or a bank. Extra insurance for your personal effects is a personal choice but please note that the value of your personal belongings can increase quickly, if for example you have a computer, a printer or a microwave in your student accommodation.
If you no longer live at home (and have your own permanent address) then you will have to take out your own insurance.
2. Taking out your own insurance
If your landlord's rental agreement does not include a waiver of recovery and/or you are not (fully) covered by your parents' insurance policy then you will have to take out your own fire insurance. This should cover the three risks: tenant's liability, liability vis-à-vis third parties and damage to your own personal effects. Contact an insurance provider or a bank for more information.
- Ethias, Generaal Lemanstraat 27, 2018 Antwerp, tel. 03 203 41 41
- ING Belgium
How much will it cost?
The price of the insurance depends on the property and the household effects to be insured.
Do you need more information or have specific questions? Then contact Jantine de Kock, Legal Officer, University of Antwerp, email@example.com, tel. +32 3 265 31 76.