A leaking water pipe, a short circuit in your storage room, machine failure or burglars who run off with your computers. These are just a few of the disaster scenarios that may keep you awake at night. Even though ‘fire insurance‘ gives you more peace of mind, depending on your professional situation, you may also see the benefit in taking out one or more additional insurance policies to protect your property assets.
Compulsory or not?
No, taking out ‘fire insurance’ is not legally compulsory in Belgium, even though, in practice, it is often contractually required:
- If you rent the building in which you live or work, the owner will always oblige you to take out a ‘fire insurance’ policy.
- When you apply for a mortgage loan for your business premises, the bank will require you to take out a ‘fire insurance’ policy.
What does the insurance entail?
The term ‘fire insurance’ is quite misleading, since this insurance also protects your property and your contents against the consequences of storm, hail, snow, water, glass breakage, attacks, vandalism and natural disasters. The guarantees differ from insurance to insurance, so, before you decide, check carefully what is or is not covered by your policy. There are plenty of online tools to compare so-called ‘fire insurance’.
The premium depends on the specific cover you choose, the risk assessment, the value of your contents and the size of your company building(s). In any case, you would do well to adjust your ‘fire insurance’ cover regularly to match the variations in your contents. Renovations should also be reported to your insurer without delay.
Good to know: if your private home and your company building(s) are in the same location, you can protect everything with only one ‘fire insurance’ policy.
Theft insurance cover protects you against the loss or damage of your goods as a result of (an attempted) theft. This is especially advisable if you store valuable items in a shop window, warehouse or shop. Such items may include jewellery, antiques, laptops, work tools or securities. Your ‘fire insurance’ often already includes (basic) theft cover.
Good to know: insurers assume that you are taking all the necessary measures to keep your goods safe. You won’t be covered by the theft insurance if you were shown to be negligent.
This insurance is also an optional cover, in addition to your ‘fire insurance’. More specifically, a policy covering business losses helps you to absorb the financial consequences of a serious, covered loss.
The ‘fire insurance’ covers the material damage, but it often takes weeks or even months before everything returns to normal after a damaging event. During that period, costs to keep activities running may rise while earnings decline. In that case, a business losses policy provides you with a financial buffer for the fixed operating costs, the ‘lost’ operating profit and the additional costs to prevent or limit declining sales. Depending on the specific insurance policy, the reimbursement period will cover 6 to 18 months.
This insurance covers certain machines against unforeseen and sudden damage. The damage may be caused by external factors (falling, inexperience, malicious intent, etc.) or internal factors (overheating, faulty assembly, etc.). Definitely not a luxury if your business depends on the reliability of your equipment. Here are a few examples: printing presses, overhead cranes, cranes, medical devices, fitness equipment, etc. The insurer will draw up an inventory of the machines you want to protect and calculate the premium on that basis. Note that a (basic) machine failure insurance may already be included in your ‘fire insurance’.
All Risks Electronics (ARE)
Without realising it, you quickly build up a whole arsenal of electronics: mobile phones, laptops, beamer projectors, tablets, cameras, and so on. The most common electronic items are easily replaceable, but medical devices or an expensive server much less so. If the failure of electronic equipment may lead to significant potential losses for your company, a comprehensive insurance cover for electronics (ARE) may be the solution.
Even though the Belgian government has not made it compulsory to insure property assets, in practice, almost everyone has a ‘fire insurance’ policy. Depending on the type of equipment or goods you use in your work, you may want to consider some of the many other optional insurance covers.