Friday, 12 July 2024

⑨ Cohabitation Medical Insurance for Family Reunion in Belgium

What is the difference between Travel Insurance and International Health Insurance?

Travel Insurance (Single Trip)

Travel insurance is a short-term solution to emergency medical treatment. Therefore, it will not cover long-term medical care. Subsequently, a person is typically expected to return to his country of origin and continue seeking treatment. The coverage will terminate once he returns to his country.

  • Provide cover for emergency treatment overseas for a limited duration
  • Cover trips of limited duration
  • Cover a maximum of 182 consecutive days
  • Return Air Ticket (You might run into problems with claims later if it is a one-way ticket to Belgium. Check with your insurance company)
  • Medical expenses for the travel insurance is on a reimbursement basis (meaning you pay first then submit the claim once back in one’s home country)
  • Protect against travel-related issues
    • Cancellation of trip
    • Flight Delay
    • Loss of luggage and personal belongings
    • Emergency medical treatment


One travel insurance company that I checked with could not cover an overseas trip for more than 120 days continuously. I asked for ‘special’ travel insurance that could cover more than 120 days’ stay. Consequently, the premium for a 182-days of single trip travel insurance coverage is exorbitant. Moreover, I received a few quotes for around €500. Wow! That was expensive with a limited duration coverage.

Before going to Belgium, I prepared myself mentally not to go back to my country for 12 months. Furthermore, I would not know how long the whole cohabitation visa procedure would last. Additionally, I want an affordable health insurance plan for 9 to 12 months without burning a hole in my pocket. As a result, in a Single Trip plan, one pays according to the number of travelling days and the region covered. The shorter the trip, the lower the cost.

Travel Insurance (Annual Plan)

The design of an annual travel insurance plan is for several travel trips within a duration of one year period. The highlights are almost similar to the Single Trip plan above except for the number of days covered per trip. Various travel insurance companies have different duration limits capped per trip too.

The range of days is from 24 to 92, especially at 31 days. Some companies also restrict a maximum of 180-days of travel per year. That is in addition to the duration limit per trip. One pays more accordingly if the number of days per trip exceeds the standard number of days offered in the annual travel insurance plan.

International Health Insurance

International health insurance is the more appropriate plan for expatriates relocating overseas. Whether for living or working abroad for an extended time, the plan has comprehensive medical coverage with several options. The benefits are outpatient and inpatient treatment, maternity care, dental care and repatriation for both emergency and routine health care.

It also entitles them to choose their doctor and treatment facility anywhere under their region of coverage. They can choose any duration of coverage and extends the period to their desires as well. Besides that, they can perform the claim submission anywhere and is highly flexible.

Claim Issue in Belgium for Travel Insurance

Getting general travel insurance is mandatory when one applies for a Schengen Visa. However, it may not be the best choice for people who enter Belgium visa-free. They prefer insurance that gives ample protection. Not just for the sake of submitting it to the commune for the cohabitation visa process.

Still, the commune would accept a travel insurance purchase just for three months. Under the presumption that they would not know the distinction between general travel insurance and international health insurance. As long as health insurance meets the minimum coverage amount of €30,000 on paper, they accept it.

There might be a risk if an individual buys travel insurance instead of international health insurance. When the occasion arises for a claim, the individual may be able to do it while staying in Belgium.

If the round-trip air ticket is one insurance claim requirement, why do we spend money to buy the insurance which we cannot claim later when a need arises? There is so much fine print of restrictions that most of us would not read when purchasing the insurance.

*Terms and conditions may differ from the insurance companies and the country of coverage. Please double-check with the insurance company which you want to buy.


How many Months of Health Insurance to Submit?

Many people submitted 3-months travel insurance to their commune with not much of a problem. There were also people who the commune specified the number of months for submission. In another word, health insurance has to cover an individual for more than three months.

If you think that an international health insurance is more expensive than a general travel insurance, you might be far from it.

Refer below to a simple analysis of the premium comparison between AXA Schengen Travel Insurance and IMG Hopper Travel Medical Coverage. IMG Hopper is an International Health Insurance from Pacific Prime. IMG Hopper is cheaper and has a higher coverage amount than AXA Schengen Insurance.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Cost Analysis between AXA Schengen Visa and IMG Hopper

Factors affecting the premium paid is dependent on age, gender, the destination country and the insurance excess amount.

Name of Insurance PlanSchengen Low Cost
Coverage Amount€30,000, Zero Excess
Coverage Duration3 months
Test Period1 March to 31 May 2017
Total Cost is fixed regardless of age, gender and nationality = €110


 An example of a US Female Citizen with her destination to Belgium

Name of Insurance PlanIMG Hopper from Pacific Prime
Coverage Amount€40,000, Zero Excess
Coverage Duration3 months
Test Period1 March to 31 May 2017
Age 21 – 29€86.25 (for 3-months)
Age 30 – 36€105.00 (for 3-months)
Age 40€180 (for 3-months)

‘Excess’ or ‘deductible’ are the same words (American English and UK English). It refers to the amount of medical claim one will cover first before the insurance company starts reimbursing claims.

  • Zero Excess means that one gets a full reimbursement in a claim up to the specific amount stated. AXA Schengen Low-Cost Plan has a zero excess amount by default.

The cost of the health insurance from IMG Hopper is even cheaper if one purchases a plan with excess.

  • An example of €100 excess: You go to the doctor three times and he bills you €50 for each visit. When you claim, the insurer will cover only $50. You pay the first $100 which is your deductible amount. Now, in that same year, you go to the doctor another three times. This time the insurer covers the whole $150 (because you have already covered your deductible amount for that year). The deductible is almost always per year for an individual.

My Health Insurance Plan

The cost analysis above tells you which insurance plan I bought. Two weeks before arriving in Belgium, I bought IMG Hopper from Pacific Prime. IMG Hopper offers the cheapest health insurance plan after sending many email enquiries to different insurance companies for quotations. It has the lowest coverage of €40,000 that I could find online.

The other insurance companies offer a higher coverage amount which unquestionably leads to a higher premium paid. But, I only need a minimum €30,000  insurance coverage as specified by the legal cohabitation contract requirement.

On the other hand, I do not want to consider general travel insurance. Travel insurance is not necessary for me due to my visa-free passport. Whereas, I want a health insurance plan for protection throughout my stay in Belgium. I will get a Belgian national health insurance after getting my eID at a later date.

Your Belgian/EU partner’s health insurance plan can cover you. Read more below on the method to do it after signing a legal cohabitation declaration.

» Extension of Health Insurance

Firstly, I bought my health insurance for six months from July 2016 to January 2017. Thus, the policy starts on the day of departure from Singapore to Belgium. My Orange Card is valid from September 2016 to March 2017. The duration of my health insurance policy could not cover the entire Orange Card’s period until March 2017.

Likewise, I did not want to submit my 3-months health insurance plan. What’s more, I hate to risk a rejection of the residence permit F card after waiting for six months. Of course, many people submitted health insurance for 3 months. The commune also accepted it without hesitation.

Secondly, I tried to extend my first insurance coverage in the system. But it was not successful as my policy was not due for an extension yet. Out of impatience, I bought the second similar health policy from the same company too without extension.

The new period covered me from January to the last day of my Orange Card’s expiry date in March 2017. I merged the two separate health insurances into one PDF file and submitted it to the municipal office later.

» Cost of IMG Hopper

I paid the premium in total for less than €200 for a policy covering 8-months. Consequently, please specify the coverage limit to only ‘Europe’ and not ‘Worldwide’. Otherwise, you have to pay more if the coverage area is more than Europe.

» Visa Letter

Additionally, I was pleased that IMG Hopper came with a Visa Letter which was helpful. The letter stated clearly the coverage amount, repatriation sum, and the amount of excess one paid for the hospitalisation expense.

Can I Be Covered under My Belgian/EU Partner’s National Insurance Plan?

No, if you do not have a Belgian National Number yet. You will get your National Number when you received your Orange Card. In the meanwhile, buy private insurance like IMG Hopper of AXA Schengen Insurance. You can buy the national insurance later once you receive your Orange Card.

Yes, ask for the document ‘Attest Samenstelling van Gezin’ (Letter of Family Composition) from the commune of where you stay. Then, submit this copy to the Belgian national health insurance company. You have to prove a family unit formed together with your Belgian or EU partner. The cost of the Belgian national health insurance is €70/year.

At that time, I could not confirm whether an Orange Card was necessary to apply for ‘Attest Samenstelling van Gezin’. But, I knew some people who had their insurance covered under their partners successfully even without having an Orange Card.

Nevertheless, try and get this certificate after your legal cohabitation declaration at the commune. To get this insurance, you must either not be working or have a salary not exceeding a certain amount.

Many communes provide the service of getting the Family Composition certificate online. Google “Attest Samenstelling van Gezin + Your City”. Then, apply it online. You should be able to receive it by post or in person. Check the instruction of the website for more detail.

» Get Your Belgian partner to Ask CM, Not You

Here is my experience with one health insurance fund in Belgium, CM. I went to a CM office in Antwerp and told the lady at the counter that I had an Orange Card. Thus, I would like insurance under my boyfriend’s name for the purpose of the family reunion. She told me outright that I could only get private insurance which they did not have for the foreigners.

There might be some miscommunication during the conversation exchange. Or perhaps, the staff did not know much about Orange Card since the term was informal. She just brushed me off quickly and coldly.

The reply was different when my boyfriend went down to CM personally. Someone told him that I could have the insurance under his account because after getting the legal declaration signed and approved, we have already formed a family unit.

My advice is to get your Belgian partner to get certain things moving by asking the involved organisation relevant questions. When people communicate in their native language, it is sometimes easier to get things done without misinterpretation of information. Sad to say, it is true in many circumstances everywhere in the world.

Pacific Prime – Your Reliable Broker

Pacific Prime is one of the largest brokers for private medical insurances in the world for insurers like Bupa, AXA, Allianz, Cigna, Aetna, NowHealth and more. Pacific Prime partners with approximately 30 or 40 worldwide insurers covering nearly all the major insurance companies out there.

There is a consultant who will call or email the interested party after submitting a quotation enquiry online. The name of the representative providing the insurance service to Belgium territory is Justin d’Anethan, Senior Consultant. Well, he is also my consultant throughout my insurance purchase.

He would clarify any doubts before buying the insurance. His service and response were so excellent and detailed. You can count on him to answer any pre-sales questions especially for those terms that were hard to understand. Needless to say, his post-sales service was as reliable. He would be the person that one looks for in the event of an insurance claim.

During the process of enquiry, it is a good gauge to test the response level of the consultant. I like the idea of having a personal consultant throughout the insurance process because the same person will have a better idea of my need rather than repeating it to different customer service if I have a problem.

With his permission, you can directly email him your enquiry. Address your concern and get him to propose suitable health and travel insurance plans. Being a Belgian himself, he is an ideal person regarding travel health insurance for Belgian visa applications.

Did your partner register you under his insurance without an orange card? Which is the private insurance that you buy?

About Live in Belgium

Hello, my name is MissSJ. I am a Singaporean. I am living with my Belgian partner since July 2016 in a cosmopolitan city, Antwerp. However, I had been travelling to and fro Belgium since 2011 as a tourist. The creation of this blog is to document my new journey in Belgium which I would like to call 'home'. Join me in discovering fascinating Belgium from the eyes of an expat.


  1. I would like to share my experience in Antwerp recently. During the day, I collect my orange card and Bijlage 19ter, the officer rejected my 3 months travel/health insurance coverage. She told me that with the national ID number I have (shown on orange card) my partner will able register me under his insurance now. And it works. The registration will take 7 working days, and I emailed it to the related department after I obtained the statement shown, the registration is successful.

  2. What I can advise when it comes to Schengen visa insurance and insurance to Europe is Europe Insurance. Good coverage and low price!

  3. Marina Santarossa

    This website is a blessing! Thank you! I have a question about health insurance as well…

    I am going to apply for cohabitation in Belgium with my Belgian boyfriend, I am Canadian. I arrive in mid-July of this year. I know that I will get my own health insurance or be able to be covered by my boyfriend’s insurance after I have my own job/the orange card processes so I do not want to buy insurance for a very long period of time.

    Do you suggest I get the 6-month plan from IMG hopper as well? Thank you so much in advance. I tried talking to the city hall in Leuven but they were not so helpful.


    • Hi Marina,

      No, I would not advise you to buy 6 months of insurance at one shot. I would recommend you to buy it for 3 months from IMG Hopper or AXA (whichever is cheaper or have more value for you) and then extend the premium when necessary. If I could turn back the clock, I would buy for 3 months first. Otherwise, you would end up buying 9 months of health insurance like me, and if that is what you want.

      Also, you have to decide at which stage you want to get your insurance – before going to Belgium (for full protection) or merely to satisfy the condition of the legal cohabitation (3-month health insurance) after you arrive in Belgium? I left a comment (above your question) a few days ago which further illustrated my point and may help you to make a decision.

      The number of months needed for insurance coverage is one criterion not stated on the official website which leaves people feeling perplexed. Thus, to get the correct answer to this question from the city hall amounts to nothing in my view. Most are as clueless as us unless you ask the right person specialising in handling the legal cohabitation paperwork.

      Most city halls generally ask the applicant to submit 3-month insurance. Submission of more than 3 months premium is not unheard of especially when the official guideline is not even clear. I hope my explanation is clear for you! 🙂

  4. Hello, I am from Costa Rica. My boyfriend is from Brugge. We have been together for 3 years already. We are planning that I should go and live in Belgium. I have a lot of questions, and I love your blog because it gives me so much advice about cohabitation!

    I have a question about insurance. Do I have to take the insurance premium in my country or when I go to Belgium?

    • Hi Dixiana, nice to hear that my blog has helped you in one way or another 🙂

      As for your question, you can do either. I have bought the insurance online before going to Belgium as I did not know at that time when should my health coverage for the cohabitation process start. Also, I felt more secure to get some insurance for a long haul flight in case anything happened for a personal reason.

      Far too many people started buying it only when the commune requested them to submit a 3-month insurance document and that is also fine. Most insurance companies here do not have insurance packages for new immigrants without a National Number. Therefore, you can only buy online after you arrive in Belgium.

      In conclusion, you can decide what is more suitable for you – to play safe or to wait for further instruction from the authority. If you buy insurance as early as me, you may have to buy more than 3 months of premium. I bought mine for 6 months whereas many others only purchase it for 3 months and it is sufficient.

  5. Hi! I accidentally stumbled upon your website at a very perfect time! I was getting frustrated about finding the right insurance company for me when I read this. I got mine from IMG Hopper as well for Eur 108 (Excess Eur200 for 6 months as instructed by the commune). Thank you!

    • Hi Bambie, perfect that you have found a low-cost premium as a solution! You were luckier than me because your commune told you how many months of coverage you need but my Gemeentehuis in Antwerp never said how many months of insurance must I buy. Thanks for sharing this. All the best for your cohabitation visa process!

      • Thank you but we are actually applying for marriage! hehe. My commune is in Vorselaar (not as big as Antwerp) so not a lot of people go through this process. Which is why I think they were more than happy to assist us with details.

        • On the reverse, some might not be so helpful because the commune has lesser immigrants and thus, not so familiar with the cohabitation process. I would say it all depends on luck who you meet, you lucky girl! 🙂 Now, you can sit back and relax until the next instruction comes.

  6. Hi Dear, I have emailed to Justin. He has given me a quotation for €40k health international insurance (in Europe only) for 9 months at €459 premium. The cost is a big difference compared to you. You only pay less than €200 for 8 months. By the way, I’m 46 years old now. I’m wondering if it is because of our age difference? Please advise me how do you get cheaper insurance? Thanks.

    • Hi Fion,

      I would recommend you to purchase an insurance covering just 3 months. Most people undergoing the cohabitation visa process only submitted 3-month insurance to the Gemeentehuis and not more.

      a) If you want to extend the duration, you can do it later before the expiry date.

      b) It is NOT advisable to buy 9 months at one shot because there is a possibility that your cohabitation visa will be rejected while waiting for the final result. Always go for option A for more flexibility.

      Yes, all insurance premium increases with age. When I run a check of IMG Hopper for you, a 40k coverage for 3 months costs less than €200.

      After your cohabitation contract is approved by the Gemeentehuis, follow the steps to have your insurance covered by your Belgian partner.

      I didn’t know about this step back then. Hence, I paid a lot more premium to cover myself for a total of 8 months! If your partner can cover your insurance later, you can save more money!