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Insurance Portugal: what policies must I have?

Decided to move to Portugal and you want to know what insurance you are obliged to have by law? There are several possibilities, but it all depends on what goods you own or what you are looking to protect.

In Portugal, there are a number of insurances in Portugal that are obligatory by law. These depend on the goods you own, the degree of protection you are looking for or the profession you have or will have in the country. 

Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are good. That’s why insurance exists, to soften the blow of the harsher sort. 

When you purchase an insurance policy are making sure that if something ever goes wrong you will have some sort of support. This is especially important when you are in an environment you are not familiar with, such as when you are living in a foreign country. 

Insurance Portugal: indemnity insurance

Indemnity insurance is mandatory for just about every company that provides services to third parties. The insurance company will cover the risk of its client having to indemnify third parties for any damage incurred. 

There are several situations in which an indemnity insurance is obligatory, such as: 

– Practicing an activity that could cause harm to others, such as hunting or public transportation of children;

– Having a job in which you might have to pay damages to others (doctors, lawyers, insurance brokers and accountants); 

– Owning dangerous, or potentially dangerous, pets.

Insurance Portugal: Car insurance

In the field of indemnity coverage, car insurance is the most common. 

So, if you own a car (or any motorised vehicle) be warned that this insurance is mandatory by law. The idea is to guarantee that the guilty party in an accident should be able to pay any damages caused. 

The minimum requirement is coverage of damages for bodily and material harm caused to third parties, as well as bodily harm to anybody transported in the vehicle, except for the driver. However, you can extend this so that it also includes, for example, roadside and legal assistance. 

Insurance Portugal: Household insurance (fire)

Household insurance, more specifically fire insurance, is obligatory for any buildings that include a condominium regime. 

This covers direct damage caused by fires in the autonomous apartments and the common areas (roof, stairs, elevators, garage). It also covers damage from heat, smoke, steam, lightning, explosions, storms or other natural phenomena. 

Besides the mandatory insurance, house owners will often buy wider-ranging multi-risk insurance. This can cover damage to household effects or loss due to theft.  

Insurance Portugal: Workplace accidents

If you are self-employed or work for somebody else then you will need to have work insurance. This guarantees you some sort of support in cases of work-related accidents. This sort of coverage includes medical expenses, indemnity for disability and, in case of death, a pension for family members. 

If you work for somebody else then it is up to your employer to make sure you are covered for work place accidents. If you are self-employed, however, then this is your responsibility. 

Insurance Portugal: Workplace accidents for domestic help

You should also be aware that there is workplace insurance for domestic help as well. This is mandatory for anybody who has a domestic worker, even if not full time. 

Besides being an obligation, this insurance also protects the employer from expenses that might derive from a workplace accident in his house. The policy is valid in any country, and also covers accidents that might occur abroad, during a family trip, for instance. 

Insurance Portugal: Life insurance

If you need to ask for a bank loan to buy a house you will most likely need life insurance. This is not necessarily mandatory, but most financial institutions demand it.

Life insurance covers indemnity payouts to a beneficiary, in cases of death (due to natural causes, disease or accident) or absolute and definitive invalidity. Banks require it to ensure that, even in extreme cases such as death or invalidity, instalments on the house will be covered. 

However, if you are looking for a life insurance for this reason, pay close attention the conditions your broker presents you with. Some policies only cover expenses in case of death and others are more wide-ranging, including invalidity, accidents or unemployment. 

There are two groups of professionals that benefit from mandatory life insurance: members of the armed forces on humanitarian and peace-keeping missions abroad and members of the police forces also involved in police, humanitarian or peace-keeping missions abroad. 

Insurance Portugal: Health

Health insurance covers healthcare risks. This is the most common form of insurance in Portugal, but is only mandatory for:

  • Foreigners;
  • Citizens of other states who choose to live in Portugal;
  • Competitive sportsmen.

There are three possible alternatives:

  1. Refund: expenses are paid by the holder and the insurance company refunds the co-payment later;
  2. Assistance: so long as the holder chooses doctors, hospitals and treatment centres covered by the insurer, he only needs to pay a percentage and the rest is charged to the insurance company;
  3. Mixed: This option mixes both of the above.

Other mandatory insurances

There are other insurances that, although not universally mandatory, are obligatory for very specific groups of people. These are:

Personal accidents

Personal accidents insurance guarantees its holder is compensated for bodily damage, permanent or temporary invalidity or sudden death caused by external, violent or unpredictable means. It is only mandatory for:

  • Students;
  • Referees;
  • Competitive athletes;
  • Municipal or voluntary firemen;
  • Sports executives;
  • Holiday camp organisers;
  • Forcados bullfighters;
  • Volunteers.

Personal assistance

Tourism companies, including seafaring tourism operators, are obliged to buy personal assistance insurance that includes civil responsibility and personal accidents insurance. 

The purpose is to make sure that their clients are properly compensated in case of harm derived from their activities. 

Insurance Damage

This type of insurance covers risks to things, intangible or material assets such as credits or property rights. They are mandatory in several circumstances, but the most common are for leased goods and mortgaged real estate. These insurances guarantee that the credit company is indemnified in case a particularly important asset is damaged in any way. 

Guarantee insurance

This insurance is mandatory for activities which demand down-payments and their purpose is to indemnify the credit company in case payment is not made, or is delayed. Activities that are subject to this obligation include bingo, gambling and temporary work companies. 


Private insurance companies and entities that exhibit art are obliged to purchase theft insurance. Considering these entities deal with invaluable assets, the insurance guarantees that there is some form of compensation in cases where any of the assets is lost or stolen. 

novobanco, one of Portugal’s largest private banks, offers many of the options listed above. If you are considering opening a bank account in Portugal, then be advised that you can benefit from some of these insurances with a Golden Key Account.

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