| Good to know|
Fire and water
Fire insurance is not compulsory, although it is often required under real estate agreements:
- For mortgages, the lender requires a property used as collateral for a loan to be covered against fire.
- Under a property rental contract, the tenant must be able to indemnify the owner in the event of a fire incident.
For real estate, it is the cost of rebuilding the property that is usually covered (see Insurance - Replacement cost); this value is indexed annually. However, it is also possible to limit insurance cover to the purchase value. While this option results in a lower premium, it has the disadvantage that, over time, the purchase value will become increasingly less than the replacement cost.
For furniture and contents, reporting the missing object should be sufficient to claim the corresponding compensation. However, three additional precautions are useful: take photos of the items insured, keep purchase receipts and inform the insurance company of any new acquisitions. Consider storing this evidence somewhere other than your home, as they it be of no use if it is destroyed in the fire!
Virtually 90 per cent of all fire victims die at night due to suffocation. Victims do not wake up as a result of the smell, but because of an audible signal.
Consequently, whoever builds or renovates a property must install smoke detectors. This complies with a bill tabled by Veerle Heeren, the Flemish Member of Parliament, which the Flemish parliament approved on 23 April 2008.
A smoke detector costs between 10 and 25 euros, but anyone who wishes to can apply for a subsidy. If you are claiming for a renovation or home improvement benefit, smoke detectors are refunded.
Thanks to the decree Flemish authorities can apply to the Flemish government for smoke detectors, which can then be fitted in rented accommodation. Marino Keulen, Flemish minister for Domestic Affairs has released € 500,000 to cover the cost of the entire project and will distribute the smoke detectors as part of a fire prevention campaign. (Source: Het Nieuwsblad, 23 April 2008)
In Brussels smoke detectors are obligatory in all apartments and houses that are let out. The detectors are installed at the expense of the owner.
In Walloon an optical smoke detector is obligatory for every private residence, irrespective of whether the premises are let out or are inhabited by the owner. One detector is sufficient for apartments smaller than 80 m². Two detectors are required for larger apartments. In the case of houses, one detector must be provided for each storey less than 80 m² and for larger stories two detectors are required.
It is recommended that you install detectors in halls or on landings. Their use in kitchens and bathrooms is not advised.
Can my insurance company refuse to pay me compensation if I haven't fitted a smoke detector?
No. Although smoke detectors are compulsory for certain properties, the insurer cannot use this pretext to deny a claim. The two regulations are not linked.