Belgium Country Pulse (April 2010)

Compulsory fire insurance

After a gas explosion in a block of flats killed 14 people in Liège in January, there have been increasing demands to make domestic fire insurance compulsory. Although 95% of homeowners and 89% of tenants have fire insurance, there is currently no legal obligation in Belgium.

fact, it appeared that the owner of the afflicted building and several of his tenants did not have one. Thus as soon as the new law is passed, anyone who owns or rents a domestic property will be forced to take out fire insurance. A central compensation fund will also be set up to extend the cover to take in third party insurance.

Retiring abroad

According to Het Nieuwsblad, more and more Belgians are opting to spend their retirement abroad. And France is the country of choice for almost half of them followed by Spain (13%). But they go as far as Swaziland, Nepal, Jamaica or the Bahamas. It is calculated that €71m is sent abroad to pay Belgian pensioners living overseas.

Social media; not for Belgians

The newspaper Le Soir reports Belgians as lagging behind the rest in Europe and the world in the use of social media with less than 10% of them using their mobiles to access such websites as Facebook or Twitter. “The price of devices and internet connections are a hindrance to the growth of the mobile internet market in Belgium,” says Steven Van Belleghem, Managing Partner at research company d’InSites Consulting.

The company has found that internet users who use their mobiles to access their virtual social networks, do so three times a day on average, which is twice as often as the rest. According to Mr. Van Belleghem, “we are expecting a growth in the use of social media in the coming years that will see Belgians catching up with the rest of the world.”