Victims of terrorist attacks will now be compensated by insurers irrespective of where and how the attacks are perpetrated. Belgium’s Federal Government and the insurance sector have reached an agreement to that effect on a mechanism which, they say, is unique in Europe. The agreement will be made into a draft law.
The attacks of 22 March 2016 were perpetrated in the hall of Brussels National Airport and the Maelbeek subway station, two locations covered by an objective liability insurance. Had they occurred elsewhere, for example, the Main Square in Brussels, the situation would have been different since no such insurance covers that area. Victims would have received compensation only if they are covered by work-related accident insurance or third-party liability insurance.
The same goes for the way the attack is perpetrated: insurance policies generally cover fires or explosions. The hypothesis of another type of attack is in no way merely theoretical. A planned vehicle attack against a support march – eventually cancelled – was foiled a few days after 22 March. “Every victim of a terrorist attack, resident in Belgium or abroad, must be able to receive compensation,” Economic Affairs Minister Kris Peeters stressed.
A cascading insurance mechanism is to be created. Work-related insurance will intervene first. If the incident is not work-related, the victim’s third-party insurance will kick in. Should the victim be unable to benefit from either of the two types of insurance, he or she will still be able to receive compensation: the Common Guarantee Fund will designate an insurer with the necessary expertise. A central contact point will be created at the Fund
Compensation will also occur more quickly. Currently, moral damages can only be determined after physical damage is consolidated. Now, compensation will be granted no later than one year after, based on the degree of invalidity set at that moment. If the degree increases, the difference will be paid. If it diminishes, no reimbursement will be requested.
The payment percentage will automatically be 100%, on condition that there are no more than 50 victims and the estimated damage does not exceed 200 million euros. If these limits are exceeded, the Disaster-Terrorism Committee will set a compensation percentage.