Health & insurance
There are a number of health and safety considerations that you should take into account when you go abroad, including health insurance and maybe even vaccinations. During your stay abroad, it is important that you are properly insured against illness, accidents and possible damage to third parties. Different insurance policies cover different risks.
First, inform yourself about the coverage provided by your higher education institution. They will have taken out insurance for all activities within the framework of your studies. Usually, this includes civil liability and accident insurance. You may also be insured for physical accidents on the way to and from the study or internship placement and during your time at the study or internship placement. In addition, you should be insured during this period for unintentional errors that cause damage to third parties.
However, certain risks will not be covered through the insurance provided by your higher education institution. You should check whether you have the following:
- Health insurance: under certain conditions, the health insurance fund covers medical expenses and travel assistance. The most important parameters are the destination country, the length of stay abroad and possibly your age.
- Travel assistance insurance: depending on your destination, your health insurance may not cover all risks. It is therefore mandatory to take out additional travel assistance insurance in order to be adequately insured.
To be sure, check whether you have the following insurance coverage:
- Fire insurance: for your accommodation abroad
- Family insurance: offers worldwide coverage in the event of damage to third parties, for example if a fellow student is hurt by your actions.
- Accident insurance: compensates you in case of an accident caused by your own actions.
- Insurance for lost or stolen property.
- Are you staying abroad for more than a year? Make an appointment with your health insurance provider.
Health insurance through the Belgian health insurance system
The situation for health insurance differs depending on the country in which you are staying and the purpose of your stay. If you are staying abroad for study purposes (study or internship), the health insurance providers differentiate between EEA countries (European Economic Area + Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) and Switzerland, on the one hand, and non-EEA countries, on the other hand.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you need medical care during a stay within the European Union (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), medical expenses can be reimbursed upon presentation of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
How does it work?
The EHIC proves that you currently possess Belgian health insurance. This gives you access to unforeseen medical care in other EU member states (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) under the same conditions and at the same cost as the people of the country concerned. Therefore, upon presentation of your 'EHIC', you will receive full or partial reimbursement of your medical expenses from the health insurance fund abroad where you received this unforeseen medical care.
- is individual (i.e. each member of the family must have their own card);
- is only valid during a temporary stay. The reason for your stay (holidays, studies, work, etc.) is irrelevant;
- is limited to unforeseen medical care (the 'EHIC' therefore does not cover planned medical care abroad);
- will not be accepted by a private hospital/doctor.
How to obtain an EHIC?
If you have paid your contribution for the compulsory health insurance, you can pick up the EHIC free of charge from your health insurance fund. You can even order the card online from most health insurance funds.
Apply for the card well in advance so that you have it before your departure.
Please note: In some countries (e.g. Spain, Portugal) standard cash payment by the patient is required if you cannot present the EHIC upon arrival at the hospital.
More information on Mutas (only Dutch and French) and the website of the European Commission.
- https://www.mutas.be/europese-ziekteverzekeringskaart (only in NL and FR) and the website of the European Commission.
If you go to a non-EEA country, you will not get a European Health Insurance Card. In that case, you will be entirely responsible for obtaining private insurance. Before you leave, please check with your health insurance fund and explain your individual situation. They will give you first-hand advice, as exceptions to the information above are, of course, always possible.
Before your departure, clarify specifically which hospitalisation costs are covered by the health insurance company. If necessary, take out additional insurance.
If you are going to stay outside Europe for a few weeks or months, you should check which vaccinations are mandatory and which ones are recommended for your destination country. Certain vaccinations are only required for a certain country or for a certain region within that country (e.g. malaria, typhus, hepatitis A or B). General information on vaccinations and other precautions can be found on the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp website https://www.wanda.be/en and https://www.itg.be/.