During a recent early morning walk in the park I took the opportunity to reflect on the choices I have made over the years about insurance coverage.
My local park has changed in the 20-plus years since I moved to Amsterdam. Once full of trees and overgrown, it has been drastically trimmed and redesigned, with more open spaces. For years it only hosted big events in the summer. Now 24/7, it is the number one destination for sports enthusiasts while the gyms remain closed because of the pandemic.
The punchbag has customers from early morning to late in the evening
It's all go in the park. Groups of joggers and lone runners dash this way and that. Pairs of sparring kickboxers move erratically in sideways motion across the paths like angry crabs, and cyclists and roller skaters weave at high speed around and between the athletes, numerous dog walkers and pedestrians.
Like the park, I have aged too, and I have become more cautious. The park seems be an accident waiting to happen. Do I have the right coverage for my morning walk should the worst happen?
Most experts would suggest people should consider taking out life; health insurance, home insurance, and long-term disability insurance policies. Other types of insurance may also be essential depending on personal circumstances and lifestyle.
Feisty Green Parakeets – native to North and Central America – have thrived in Amsterdam without travel or health insurance
Health insurance is mandatory in the Netherlands. I have been very much a net contributor to the system as I have paid my premiums – supported by the employer contribution – for the last 20 years and claimed less than EUR 100 in medical expenses. This is because I keep my premiums as low as possible by maintaining the highest own risk, the amount I have to pay for healthcare before my insurer starts to cover any expenses.
Health insurance is not mandatory in all countries and is a hot button in the US. Given the choice I would always opt for a policy. It gives me peace of mind, and if I have need of acute medical attention - because of serious injury (in the park or otherwise!) or illness - I will quite quickly blow through my own risk deduction (EUR 885).
Although I had not heard of it before moving to the Netherlands, the first coverage I signed up for was burial insurance. I pay a small premium every month to pay for my coffin and funeral when this becomes necessary. I have occasionally thought of stopping my premiums. I have hesitated each time for one simple reason: I don’t want to leave my wife with the cost and hassle of a funeral should the need arise.
The pandemic is a reminder how fragile life can be. Indeed, Aegon traces its roots back to Algemeene Friesche Begrafenisfonds 'Memento Mori', a company that began by offering burial insurance to the families of industrial workers in the mid-19th century. (Read more about Aegon's history)
The perfect resting place
I have yet to take out life insurance, but I am about to sign up. Nothing – neither the nature in the park nor people – remain untouched by the passing of time. To read more about life insurance, click here
My wife and I have never had reason to draw on our home insurance policy. There was an occasional leak in the roof of the bathroom of our rented apartment for over 10 years, but the water dropped straight into the sink. Still, if the roof had collapsed under the weight of water pooled on the flat roof we would be indemnified. Lesson number one – know what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.
I pay a car insurance premium monthly though I don’t own a car. Living in the city, I find it more convenient to make use of a carsharing service. My policy only provides coverage for any liability I incur by causing damage to other road users.
You don't need a car to stay on the move
I am a strong supporter of the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Therefore, I believe I need liability insurance to walk in the bustling park, which at times resembles a Lifesize game of Pac-Man. Conversely, I hope the roller-skate enthusiasts – who seem to prefer moving backwards – also have similar insurance coverage. Then strolling in the park can return to being as carefree as before, almost.