Half of all Belgian employees do not know how much supplementary pension they receive

  • Belgian employees overestimate their supplementary pensions
  • Employees lack sufficient knowledge for choosing benefits flexibly
  • Need for clear communication via a single central digital platform

Although the importance of a supplementary pension has gradually become widely understood, the amount of the annual employer contribution is greatly overestimated. More than one employee in two (54%) has no idea what contribution their employer pays into this so-called second pillar. More and clearer communication becomes in this way an important attention point. This communication employees want above all digitally and via a single central platform. This is the lesson of a survey by Vlerick Business School and AG Insurance.

Vlerick Business School and AG Insurance recently conducted research into employee attitudes towards supplementary pensions and healthcare benefits1.  Professor Xavier Baeten and researcher Said Loyens from the Vlerick Reward Centre probed some 1,300 employees from the private sector as to the benefits they receive, the importance they attach to them, their satisfaction and preferences with regard to communication, and their knowledge about the benefits provided for them.

Insufficient knowledge

Only 60% of respondents indicated that they have adequate knowledge about their hospitalization insurance. That figure is even lower for other benefits such as the supplementary pension (54%), guaranteed income insurance (51%) and death-in-service insurance (47%).

Specifically in respect of the supplementary pension, 54% are unable to put a figure on their employer's annual contribution.  And those who can greatly overestimate that amount, according to Professor Xavier Baeten: "Only 5% believe that the state pension will be enough to maintain their current lifestyle. That message has clearly arrived. However: 38% think that the statutory and supplementary pension together will be sufficient, whereas this is often not the case."

What benefits do employees find most important?

The supplementary pension, hospitalization insurance and guaranteed income are top the list, both in their current employment situation and with a possible future employer. The death-in-service benefit is (wrongly) considered the least important advantage. The importance of this increases, however, in direct proportion to the number of children the employee has.

Xavier Baeten found that employers severely underestimate the importance of these benefits for their employees: "This is especially true for the supplementary pension. 39% of employers think that this is important for their employees while, when we ask the employees themselves, 92% say they find this important. The same applies to hospital insurance, though the gap is smaller: 63% compared to 90%. It is clear that employees' eyes have been opened, especially in terms of retirement pension. Employers would therefore do better to reduce other benefits such as cars rather than to reduce the coverage provided by these various forms of insurance, for example because of rising premiums."

Communication: strong preference for a single central digital platform

Half of all employees have questions about their benefits packages. This applies in particular to the supplementary pension (78%) and hospitalization (51%). Most questions concern what is covered and not, and tax. To access this information many people turn to the HR department (37%), but the Internet too ranks high (36%) and 1 in 3 ask other colleagues. But particularly the latter two sources often fail to provide a satisfactory response.

Both young and old want in future to be able to communicate digitally in particular. Almost all surveyed workers are asking for an online platform where they can consult and manage their benefits.

Jean-Michel Kupper, Director Employee Benefits & Health Care at AG Insurance: "Employees want above all a central online platform (93%) where all the information about their benefits is gathered in one place. This, coupled with the large number of - often unanswered - questions about something they find very important, corroborates our sense that there is a need for another, digital communication approach. Just look at the federal mypension.be site, which has already received 2 million visitors since the beginning of this year and where employees will soon be able to consult complete information on their supplementary pensions. Following this laudable government initiative, we have developed as an insurer a similar platform. On 'My Global Benefits' our affiliates have a simple and complete overview of their supplementary benefits: pension scheme, health care as well as disability. Very soon, our clients will also be able to follow-up on their claims management via this platform. First reactions are very positive, and we are now gradually rolling it out to all our customers."

Download the full research report 'Supplementary pension and healthcare benefits - employee survey'

1 Hospitalization insurance, death-in-service insurance, guaranteed income in the event of disability or serious illness, and insurance for outpatient medical costs.

About AG Insurance
With a total market share of 21.4% at year-end 2015 (27.7% in life insurance and 16.5% in non-life insurance), AG Insurance is the leading player on the Belgian insurance market. To better serve individual customer needs, AG Insurance distributes its products through several channels: independent brokers and Fintro agents, bank branches at BNP Paribas Fortis and bpost bank, and group insurance for large corporate accounts. The company employs a staff of over 4,000, each specialized in their own particular area. For more information, go to www.aginsurance.be.

& Rankings

Equis Association of MBAs AACSB Financial Times