New employer = new benefits?

Starting soon with a new employer? Or already getting started? Congratulations, and enjoy your new challenge!

During your job negotiations with your new employer, you will no doubt have spoken about your fringe benefits, which are an important part of your compensation package. Possibly your new employer offers you new benefits, requiring important choices to be made. Let us therefore guide you through the most common fringe benefits in the group and hospitalisation insurance area.
What are fringe benefits?
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Fringe benefits are very varied.

Most employers today offer a package of - at times very extensive – fringe benefits (also known in Belgium as 'extra-legal' benefits). These are benefits of various kinds, usually with a fiscal component, which you receive on top of your gross salary. These can include group or hospitalisation insurance, meal and eco vouchers, a company car, the ability to work from home ... The list is very diverse.

Fringe benefits are greatly appreciated by employees as they increase their purchasing power, and in so doing contribute to a positive work environment.

Your employer helps build your complementary pension

Your employer can help a lot in saving for your retirement, through the various options open to it:

  • Group insurance

    Around 75% of employers accrue complementary pensions for their employees, in most cases through a group insurance scheme. This is one of the most appreciated fringe benefits. Your employer - and in some cases you yourself - periodically deposit a certain amount in a group insurance. These deposits build up a capital that is paid out at the end of your active career, in addition to your statutory pension.

    In many cases, one or more risk guarantees are also attached to your group insurance. That means that you as an employee, will receive additional coverage or reimbursement should a particular risk event occur. These risk covers include death in service insurance should you die before retirement, or 'premium waiver' cover (see below). 

    More detail about your group insurance 

 

  • The bonus plan

    Your performance is often rewarded with a year-end premium or bonus. Unfortunately, a large part of the bonus is taken by the taxman. A bonus plan offers a solution here. A portion of your bonus is deposited into your group insurance. The tax advantages linked to your group insurance mean that you end up keeping a lot more of your bonus.  

    This implies that the bonus amount is not immediately available. But - as with a group insurance - you can usually use the amount already for the purchase or renovation of real estate.    

 

  • Premium waiver

    If you are prevented from working by sickness or disability for a long period (minimum 30 days), your employer is no longer required to pay premiums into your group insurance. Premium waiver coverage ensures that the periodic payments continue to be made into your group insurance or pension fund. In this way your carefully accrued pension capital is not endangered by a prolonged illness or by an accident in your private or professional life.
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Your group insurance makes for an attractive complementary pension.
The choice is yours
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With a cafeteria plan, you freely choose your benefits.

​Some employers allow their employees to put together their own supplementary benefits package, within a certain budget. This allows you to choose the benefits that are most important to you, hence the term 'cafeteria plan'.  

A group insurance too can work on the same cafeteria plan principle. Your employer can offer you a certain freedom of choice in defining the various risk guarantees (such as death-in-service or disability coverage).

You can for example choose to use your group insurance premiums primarily to save as much as possible for retirement (Life capital), or to make sure your beneficiaries receive an additional amount if you die before you retire (Death-in-service capital). Also, you can sometimes choose whether to invest the profit-sharing in higher risk branch 23 funds (without guaranteed return), or in a branch 21 product with a guaranteed return.

Your employer watches over your health

Although not legally mandatory, hospitalisation insurance is one of the most common and appreciated fringe benefits. It exists in different forms, many times in combination. Your employer usually pays the insurance premiums, but sometimes the employee is asked to pay a part.                    

  • 'Classical' hospitalisation insurance

    A corporate-sponsored hospitalisation insurance scheme reimburses the medical expenses incurred during your hospitalizstion or (home) childbirth.
     
    Every hospitalisation insurance obviously covers the costs incurred during the stay in hospital, but most schemes add pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage. In many cases the insurance also reimburses the medical expenses for the treatment of a serious illness the whole year round.

    Many hospitalisation insurances work on the third-party payer principle. This means that the hospital bill is settled directly between the hospital and the insurance company. At AG Employee Benefits, the third party payment scheme goes under the name Medi-Assistance.

    The benefits of a corporate-sponsored hospitalisation insurance are often extended to the employee's family members. You should ask your personnel department whether your family members can be affiliated to the insurance - possibly against payment of an additional premium.

    More details on your hospitalisation insurance 

     
  • Ambulatory ('outpatient') care insurance

    An ambulatory healthcare insurance will pay for 'ambulatory' (or 'outpatient') care the whole year round. These are the more everyday medical expenses that often have nothing to do with hospitalisation:
     
    • Prescription drugs;
    • Visits to the general practitioner, specialist, physiotherapist, ...;
    • Medical imaging;
    • A plaster cast in the emergency department;
    • Dental care;
    • Spectacles and hearing aids;
    • ...

More detail on your ambulatory care insurance 

  • Disability insurance

    With a disability coverage you receive an additional income on top of your statutory benefit during your period of disability (after major surgery, but also, for example, during pregnancy leave). 
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Your hospitalization insurance usually pays the medical costs before and after your hospital stay.