Choosing the right disability insurance - 4 options

If you work as a self-employed professional, a zzp'er, you will not receive benefits in the event of illness or an accident. You may be able to compensate for a few days or weeks of not working due to illness with savings. But if you are unable to work for a longer period of time, or if you become incapacitated for work, then there is no safety net. With disability insurance ('arbeidsongeschiktheidsverzekering' or AOV in Dutch) you can compensate the loss of your income in the event of illness or disability. However, many zzp'ers find such insurance too expensive. Did you know that there are more options in the form of a mutual savings scheme, crowdsurance, or UWV insurance? And that every entrepreneur will probably be obliged to insure against incapacity for work in the future? Read all about misconceptions about an AOV and the different options you have.

The Statistics Netherlands (CBS) 2021 self-employed professionals Survey (in Dutch) shows that 40% of entrepreneurs have made no provisions in case of disability. Also, 20% of zzp'ers indicate that they cannot manage without income for more than 3 months. That is why the government and the employers' and employee organisations have decided in the new pension agreement that entrepreneurs will be legally required to take out insurance. It is not yet known exactly how this obligation will be enforced. It is expected to come into force in 2027.

 

 

Overview of AOVs

This table shows you the differences and similarities between the types of AOV available.

 AOVMutual savings scheme (schenkkring)CrowdsuranceUWV
When to registerYou decideYou decideYou decideWithin 13 weeks after employment or benefits have ended
Health declaration / medical screeningYesNoNoNo
Wait time/excess periodYou decideAt least 1 monthAt least 1 month2 years
Mandatory meetings

No

YesNoNo
Minimum number of participantsNo20NoNo
Maximum number of participantsNo50NoNo
Maximum benefit durationYou decide2 years2 yearsYou decide
Fixed monthly premiumYesNoNoYes
Fixed deposit into your own savings account, money remains yoursNoYesYesNo
Tax-free payment when illNoYesYesNo
Premium deductible from income tax returnYesNoNoYes
Doctor's declaration when illYesNoNoYes
Reintegration supportYesNoYesYes
PreventionYesNoYesNo
You have to be invitedNoYesNoNo
Social and business networkNoYesNoNo
Pregnancy benefitYesNoNoNo

 

1. Disability insurance

Insurance companies, banks, independent advisors, and sector organisations offer disability insurance packages. Request more than one quote, so you can compare the conditions and premiums.

Conditions

With most insurance policies you are eligible for an AOV benefit if you are at least 25% disabled for work. This is called the benefit threshold. You can also opt for a higher threshold. For example, if you opt for a threshold of 50%, your premium will be lower, but you will only receive payments if your disability percentage is at least 50%. 

When you take out disability insurance, you choose between occupational disability or suitable work.

  • Suitable work
    The insurance company will check whether or not you are able to do another type of work. The premium is lower, but you will have to accept different types of work that match your education and work experience.
  • Occupational disability
    The insurance company will check whether you can still practice your profession in your own company. If this is not the case, you do not have to accept alternative work. You pay a higher premium.

When calculating your premium, the insurance company also looks at:

  • the physical strain of your job;
  • your age;
  • the chosen benefit payment threshold;
  • your lifestyle and health (medical declaration);
  • the payment term of your insurance;
  • the final age you wish to insure, for example, until you are 65;
  • the amount you want to insure (max 80% of your income);
  • the deductible period.

You become ill

If you become ill, you will receive guidance from the insurance company to help you get back to work as quickly as possible. If that is not possible, the insurance company will check if you are eligible for benefits. Medical advisors and labour experts employed by the insurance company will determine your disability percentage.

Advantages

  • In the event of incapacity for work, you will receive disability benefit until a date chosen by you. For example, until you retire.
  • In the event of illness, you will receive guidance from a reintegration coach so that you can return to work as soon as possible.
  • You can deduct the premium via your income tax return.

Disadvantages

  • You do not build anything. If you never use the insurance, you will lose the premium you pay.
  • Medical advisors and labour experts from the insurance company determine whether you are unfit for work, and whether or not you will receive benefits.
  • You have to fill out a medical declaration. If you have a medical history, it is often difficult to take out an AOV. you must pay a higher premium, or you will be offered insurance with one or more exceptions or coverage limitations.

2. Mutual savings scheme

A mutual savings scheme ('schenkkring' or 'broodfonds*' in Dutch) is a group of zzp'ers who know and trust each other. They form an association with the aim of supporting each other financially in the event of illness. The mutual savings scheme board regularly organises mandatory meetings to strengthen mutual ties. A mutual savings scheme can come in all shapes and sizes, with members from different industries.

Are you a member of a mutual savings scheme? You will receive donations for a maximum of 2 years. Sometimes, mental illnesses, such as burn out, are excluded in the first year. There are also mutual savings schemes that require your company to be active for at least 1 year before you can participate. Are you looking for a mutual savings scheme? Check out the options in your region and compare the conditions.

Conditions

Usually you cannot apply yourself for a mutual savings scheme. A member has to ask you to join. Every member has the right to veto the membership of a new member.

If there are at least 20 members, the mutual savings scheme can start making donations. The amount of the commitment is calculated based on the average disability percentage among zzp'ers (in Dutch). It is important that the mutual savings scheme grows to 50 members so that everyone can receive benefits in the event of multiple cases of illness.

When you join a mutual savings scheme, you pay a registration fee, a monthly contribution, and you deposit a monthly amount into your own mutual savings scheme account. The board manages your account. Do you want a benefit of, for example, €1,500 per month in the event of illness? Then you deposit an average of €60 per month in addition to the contribution. The donation you receive cannot exceed your average net profit plus your fixed monthly business costs. You can show this with your annual records: income tax return or your annual financial statement. 

Do you wish to stop being a member of the mutual savings scheme? Then you will be reimbursed the amount still in your account, minus costs.

You become ill

If you cannot work due to illness, you must report this to the mutual savings scheme board. After 1 month waiting time, you will receive a small donation in your account from all participants. All those small donations together add up to the total amount you wish to receive. This income is tax-free (in Dutch), as it does not exceed the maximum amount of €2,274 you are allowed to receive tax-free from 1 person per year. The deposits that you make into your mutual savings scheme account are not deductible. They are in effect your own savings. 

If a member of a mutual savings scheme claims illness falsely, the board will terminate that person's membership.

Advantages

  • You can join a mutual savings scheme if you have a medical history;
  • There is no medical evaluation;
  • You know the entrepreneurs in your mutual savings scheme;
  • In case of illness, you do not have to show a doctor's declaration, a mutual savings scheme is based on trust;
  • You do not pay taxes on the donations you receive in the event of illness;
  • The money left in your mutual savings scheme account after making donations to members who were ill remains yours;
  • If you leave the mutual savings scheme, you will receive the money in your account, minus administration costs.

Disadvantages

  • You cannot just apply, usually a member has to ask you to join;
  • You will receive donations for a maximum of 2 years. Are you still ill after 2 years? Then you can apply for Social Assistance ('bijstandsuitkering' in Dutch). Whether or not you are eligible depends on your income and any income of your partner;
  • You will not receive reintegration guidance in the event of illness and reintegration;
  • You usually have to wait 1 month before you can receive donations.

Graphic designer Marieke Riedijk is a member and co-founder of Broodfonds Parkstad in Zuid-Limburg. “Members of a mutual savings scheme support each other. You get to know each other better as time passes. This is also good for your network. As an entrepreneur you do not report ill lightly, because there has to be bread on the table. If there really is something, you have a safety net to fall back on. No one in our mutual savings scheme has misused the system so far; we know each other too well."

 

* Broodfonds is a brand name and can only be used if the mutual savings scheme was set up according to the terms and conditions of Broodfondsmakers.

3. Crowdsurance

Crowdsurance resembles the idea of the mutual savings scheme. It is an online platform for zzp'ers who want to secure their income during illness. The main difference with a mutual savings scheme is that you do not know the members personally and you do not have to attend meetings. You can also join if you have a medical history. There is no maximum number of participants. 

If you use crowdsurance, you usually receive donations for 24 months. You will also receive guidance from a work conditions specialist so that you can get back to work as soon as possible. There are many crowdsurance platforms. The terms and conditions of those providers can vary widely. Often, there is an age requirement and starting entrepreneurs can only join after 1 year. Sometimes mental illnesses are excluded if you call in sick within 1 year.

Co-founder Jacqueline Blaauw of crowdsurance platform SamSamkring emphasises that anyone may join. “SamSam has no age limitation, and starting entrepreneurs are also welcome. This may be different with other crowdsurance platforms. In the event of illness, participants receive guidance from a team of work conditions experts. We also regularly organise masterclasses, for example on vitality and burn out. If you are partially absent, you will receive a compensation for the hours that you cannot work."

Conditions

When participating in a crowdsurance platform, you pay a registration fee. You open an account with a bank that collaborates with the platform, and deposit an amount every month. When you register, you determine how much income you want to insure, with a maximum of 80%. Your annual financial statement proves your income. The higher the income you want to insure, the higher your investment.

The platform calculates your premium based on the average disability percentage. On average, members pay €130 per month in deposits and contribution for an insured income of €2,500 per month. The amount you donate to a sick member depends on the income level chosen by that member, how much you yourself are saving, and who the member is. "For example, if there are a lot of entrepreneurs who practice a hazardous profession, it will affect the level of your premium," Sharepeople's Cosmas Blaauw explains.

You become ill

A team of experts will evaluate your sickness report and determines your occupational disability percentage. After a waiting time of 2 months, you will receive small donations in your account from the other members. All those small donations add up to the income amount you wish to receive and are tax-free. Just like the mutual savings scheme. The monthly deposits you make into your own account are not deductible, you should see this as your own savings.

Advantages

  • You can also join with a medical history;
  • No medical evaluation;
  • If you become ill, you do not have to show a doctor's declaration, but you do have to meet a work conditions doctor (Arbo);
  • Guidance is provided with reintegration;
  • The donations you receive are tax-free;
  • Money you deposit into your crowdsurance account remains yours;
  • If you stop participating, you will receive the money in your account, minus administration costs.

Disadvantages

  • You usually have 2 month waiting time before you receive donations.
  • Are you still ill or disabled after 2 years? You will no longer receive donations from the crowdsurance platform. There is no safety net except for Social Assistance (' bijstandsuitkeringin Dutch). For this, your municipality will look at your assets and any income of your partner.

Wim and Joyce de Vink run their own kitchen renovation business. After a bad experience with an AOV insurance company, they decided to join the VLOK-AOV crowdsurance platform. Wim de Vink: “Last year, I had a hernia. Shortly after I reported ill, I had a meeting with the VLOK-AOV Arbo doctor. Fortunately, I was granted payments right away. My recovery went well, and I was soon able to resume work part-time. I invested in hoisting equipment, and can now get back to work. If I had not been able to cope physically, I would have had to choose a different career path. Thanks to the crowdsurance benefit, I would then have 2 years to change my plans."

4. Voluntary AOV via UWV

Were you in paid employment until less than 13 weeks ago or do you have mandatory employee insurance? Then you can apply to UWV for sickness benefit insurance ('Ziektewetverzekering') and / or the Work and Income Act insurance (WIA).

Conditions

A sickness benefit insurance via UWV is a especially interesting if you have a medical history or are still ill, because you may have trouble taking out a 'regular' AOV insurance. Or if you profession is high-risk. UWV always has to accept your application. These are the options via UWV:

  • The UWV Ziektewetverzekering starts paying after 2 days of illness, for a maximum of 2 years.
  • You can take out insurance for disability through AOV insurance via UWV: the WIA insurance. The WIA insurance starts paying after 2 years of illness until you can resume work or reach the state pension age.

Read more about the terms and conditions of their voluntary AOV insurances (in Dutch) with UWV.

You become ill

You report sick to UWV on your first or second day of illness - no later. You have 2 days waiting time. From the third day of illness, you receive a benefit of 70% of the insured amount. The Ziektewetuitkering pays for a maximum of 2 years (104 weeks). The payroll tax credit is deducted from the benefit.

Are you still sick after 2 years? Then you can apply for a WIA benefit from the UWV. A medical doctor and labour expert will evaluate what kind of work you could still do and how much you can earn.

Advantages

  • You are always accepted, even if you have a medical history or a high-risk profession.
  • You can deduct the premiums via your income tax return.

Disadvantages

  • You will lose the premium you pay to UWV. Even if you never use the insurance.
  • UWV decides whether or not you are disabled and receive a benefit.
  • UWV works with the 'suitable work' principle, so you have to accept other work, even if it does not suit your education or experience.
  • The premium you pay to UWV is relatively high premium compared to other AOV insurance companies. That is because UWV accepts everyone.

Risicospecialist Norbert Bakker of B2Bsure tells you how you as an entrepreneur can ensure income during illness. For English subtitles, click on the 'wheel' , then 'ondertiteling' and then 'Engels.' 

Arbeidsongeschiktheid | Bedrijfsrisico's de baas

Misconceptions about AOV

You may think 'it will not happen to me', but everyone can become ill. You fall during a skiing holiday or your business comes to a standstill for a longer period of time because you become seriously ill.

Discussions by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Advice Team with entrepreneurs show that there are many misconceptions about the AOV. AOV doctor Annemieke Postema also regularly encounters these 5 misconceptions. She explains why it is still wise to arrange something in case you become ill or disabled.

1. AOV insurance is too expensive

On average, a zzp'er pays 7% of his income in AOV premiums. You can deduct these premiums in box 1 (in Dutch) of your income tax return. This means that you pay 35 to 45% less net.

Example

You are a painter who works 36 hours a week. Your gross yearly income is €50,000, your deductible period is 2 months, and you want to be insured against disability until you reach your pension age. On average, you will pay:

  • gross premium per month: €350
  • net premium per month: €210

Tip: when calculating your hourly rate, take into account your AOV insurance.

2. I do not have a high-risk profession, so I do not need insurance

Mental health complaints, for example a burn out, are the main cause of prolonged disability, according to Statistics Netherlands (in Dutch). Your profession does not make a difference, in most cases.

3. I can save enough to support myself if I become ill

“Realise that you need a decent buffer to offset [income loss from] illness for several months", says Postema. "Say, you have a buffer of €35,000. If your fixed costs and groceries amount to €2,000 per month, you will run out of money in 1.5 years."

4. AOV will become mandatory, so why should I make provisions?

Disability insurance is not yet mandatory. You will not be insured until then. Also, the mandatory insurance will only pay minimum wage.

5. If I become ill, my partner will start working extra hours

Being ill often brings with it a lot of worry and stress. Your partner will probably have to do more at home to take care of you and the household, so he or she will not have time to work extra hours, or do extra work for your business. 

Postema: “Every zzp’er is different. Which AOV suits you, depends on your situation and wishes."