The Dutch are among the most highly insured people in the world, and I’ve found that policies are available that parallel most of the coverage that I’ve had in the US. ExpatFocus has a good overview: The basic policies for most expats include health insurance and third-party liability insurance. Auto insurance is compulsory if you own or drive a car, and renter’s insurance is available if your landlord or your US homeowner’s policy doesn’t extend to cover your apartment.
Here’s a quick rundown of the basic insurance types, what you might pay, and places to go for further information:
Health Insurance: With very few exceptions, health insurance is mandatory once you register as a resident: Universal really means universal. From a US perspective, basic coverage is very affordable, around 100 euro per month per person, and discounts are available if you belong to a gym, eat vegetarian, or avoid smoking. Dental is automatically covered in policies for children under 18.
As an expatriate on assignment with a large multinational, I was able to use one of the few Dutch exemptions: using the worldwide provisions of my US health policy without buying local insurance. However, once I leave their employment, I have to subscribe to basic Dutch insurance even though I still carried US COBRA coverage.
A good basic guide to the details of the Dutch system, with links to comparison sites, can be found at JustLanded.com.
If you’re interested in healthcare policy, the Commonwealth Fund recently published a good overview of the Dutch, Swiss, and US systems.
Third-Party Liability Insurance: This insurance covers you if you break something that belongs to someone else at their home. My relocation people and expatriate guides recommend it as a cheap safeguard, so I purchased a policy from Centraal Beheer for about 30 euros per year. It makes my Dutch bookkeeper laugh, but it’s peace of mind.
Expatica has a good introduction. It’s a good exercise of your Dutch skills to try to understand what is covered: damage from balls, for example, is covered only if they are less than 5 feet in diameter.
Home Insurance: Home contents insurance, inboedelverzekering, and home liability insurance, aansprakelijkheidsverzekering, are sold separately, although you can negotiate a discount if you buy multiple types of insurance from one company. They cover damage due to fire, storm, flood, and theft with exclusions and exceptions that are familiar from US policies.
Generally, you need to purchase a rider, a kostbaarhedenverzekering, if you want excess cover for art, electronics, antiques, or jewelry. I’ve avoided buying this insurance because my US homeowners policy promises, in writing ,to cover me here.
Auto insurance: Third-party liability insurance covers damages and accidents to bystanders and passengers. Basic insurance is known as wettelijke aansprakelijkheid or WA; premium coverage is WA + beperkt casco or WA + casco (restricted comprehensive and comprehensive, respectively).
You can, optionally, insure the vehicle against theft, fire and damage to yourself and your vehicle (allriskverzekering insurance). A good overview is given at AngloInfo.
So far, insurance has been rolled into the lease on my car, and I don’t pay it as a separate tem. Neighbors assure me that I can get lower rates online; quotes look similar to rates in the US.
Miscellaneous Coverage: There is a range of insurances that you can purchase for special situations: year ‘round travel insurance, Life / Disability Life insurance (levensverzekering), is similar to schemes in most countries, burial insurance (uitvaartverzekering), legal insurance (rechtbijstandverzekering: guaranteeing access to cheaper legal advice and protecting against lawsuits), bicycle insurance (fietsverzekering: about 60 euro and replaces your bike if stolen, one time).
I’ve found that an evening’s conversation with a Dutch friend is usually the best way to get guidance on options and companies once you’ve educated yourself on the basics.