7Aug

Diseases in Southeast Asia: Commonly Contracted Diseases

OTHER than culture and food, another thing that Southeast Asia is abundant with are, unfortunately, communicable/ infectious and tropical diseases.

So, before packing up and fulfilling that persistent wanderlust for the wonders of Southeast Asia, here are some diseases that all travellers must look at out for:

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease common in tropical countries, including the Philippines and Malaysia.

Classic manifestations of dengue are sudden, high-grade fever, sudden appearance of rashes two to five days after onset of fever, muscle pain, bleeding gums, and many more.

As a traveller, the best way to prevent acquiring the disease is by avoiding the bites of infected mosquitoes. This can be done with the use of mosquito repellent sprays and lotions.

Malaria

Another mosquito-borne disease however, instead of a viral pathogen, malaria is actually caused by parasite that has five species, two of which are uncommon.

Just like Dengue, Malaria is acquired when an infected mosquito, specifically a female, takes a blood meal.

Malaria is suspected when there is a sudden onset of shivering by the patient, followed by a spike in temperature and, lastly, profuse sweating—chills, fever, sweat.

Still, the best way to avoid contraction of the disease is through mosquito repellents and wearing clothes that minimizes skin exposure

Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases

Gastrointestinal problems, such as traveller’s diarrhoea, can be caused by a myriad of pathogens including enteroviruses which can be found in improperly handled and served street food which is very common in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, it is begrudgingly advised that travellers should venture into these uncanny cuisines with caution. Being a picky eater in this situation is actually a good thing.  Thorough handwashing before and after a meal is also an important practice.

Sexually transmitted diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their complications are disturbingly common in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, the New Your Post released an article of the rise of a “super gonorrhoea”, a strain of STD acquired by a man who travelled from Southeast Asia, that is apparently resistant to all antibiotic treatments. HIV/AIDS cases have also skyrocketed in a particular Southeast Asian country.

Travellers who practice sex tourism are, of course, of high risk. The blame is commonly pinned on sex workers; however, the bigger liability lies on unhealthy sexual practice, such as having multiple partners and unprotected sex.

This article was not written to scare all the travellers away from Southeast Asia; however, does serve as a reminder. Countless of mishaps can happen out there in the big, wide world, most of which you cannot control. So, isn’t it better to take hold of those minute things that you can control?

There’s no such thing as too much security when travelling, especially if it’s in another country or continent. Investing in travel insurance, specifically one that covers Health, is always wise, especially if you’re one who takes long trips. Just always keep in mind, thorough preparation and planning is key to safe travels.

Need travel insurance for your next trip in Hong Kong and other South East Asian countries? We help expats find the best covers. Get in touch today!

6Jul

Reducing the Stress When Travelling with Kids

Travelling with a child is not easy. As much as we would want to travel with the whole family, the logistics can be a great source of stress and anxiety. However, just like with anything in life, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Here are a few tips for stress-free travelling with a child:

Take care of yourself before anybody else.

Monkey see, monkey do. If a child sees or feels anxiety from the parents, then they would most likely copy the mood. It’s important to remember that in order to take care of someone, you have to be in your best condition first. So, make sure that you get enough sleep before the trip and your health is conditioned for travel. Take Vitamin Cs to boost your immunity. With all the stress that’s bound to come, you’re going to need it.

Destination, planning, and packing.

Take into account if the place you’re going is suitable for the child. You can save that Machu Picchu hiking expedition for when your 2-year-old is a little older. Also, make sure that you always have a child-friendly room where you’re going, especially if travelling with an infant.

Create a schedule and book the rooms and the places you want to visit in advance as much as possible. It’s better to have an adjustable itinerary in cases of emergency, rather than have none at all.

Pack just enough diapers and pull-ups for the trip to your destination. Book a room near a pharmacy for easy access to your child’s necessities.

Food, water, and first aid

Keep them fed and hydrated with low-sugar snacks. Make sure all their necessary vitamins, medications and formula are in your carry-on.

Distractions

Bring their favourite toy and keep art supplies within your reach for when your child starts to get bored. Load your tablet or smartphone with their favourite shows.

Keep them close

Save yourself from a heart attack and buy a kid’s harness. It’s weird to see a child on a leash but it will keep them close to you. Before going out, write your contact details on your child’s arm and make them wear a bracelet tag with the same information. At night, make sure that they’re wearing something fluorescent, like a glow stick, to easily spot them in a crowd should they stray.

At the end of the day, we just want our kids to be comfortable, happy, and safe. So, it’s important to meticulously plan a child-centred trip. Making them part of that process ensures satisfaction of not only your child but, also, yourself.

FAMILY INSURANCE

We recommend getting family insurance especially when traveling for an extended period of time. Find an international plan that covers the country you’re visiting. We help expats find the right family insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

5Jun

Backpacking Tips when Travelling in Southeast Asia

Backpacking in Southeast Asia (SEA) can very well turn out be one of the best trips in someone’s life if planned properly. Like in any trip, it is important to get to know your destinations before embarking on them. As amazing as the countries are in this corner of the world with its tropical forests, flamboyant environmental richness and diversity, and deeply seeded cultures, rookie mistakes can lead to very disastrous results. So, here are few things to take into account if you’re planning on travelling to a SEA country or backpacking across it.

Travel Insurance

It is always recommended to have a travel insurance, especially in long trips to foreign countries lasting from weeks to months.

Some parts of Southeast Asia are high risk for foreigners and expats. It’s always better to anticipate the worst case scenario when traveling to unfamiliar territories.

Do your research and look for a travel insurance that covers loss of items, missed or cancelled flights and trips, and, most importantly, any medical conditions that can be encountered. Plus, make sure to purchase one that is covered in the countries that you plan to visit.

Vaccinations

As said earlier, Southeast Asian countries are not just hotpots for culture but, unfortunately, for infectious diseases as well. Malaria, dengue, tetanus, hepatitis A, and typhoid are only some of the serious diseases that’s common in most of the 11 states. Acquiring the disease can lead to serious complications and even death.

“Prevention is always better than cure.” Before going on a backpacking trip, consider the diseases common in the locality that you’re going to or even just pass by, take into account the season and which diseases are more common in that season (i.e. high incidence of dengue in the Philippines during the rainy season). Vaccination should start months prior to your trip make ensure completion.

Other infectious diseases that do not have vaccinations but have post-exposure prophylaxis such as rabies or HIV should be covered by your travel insurance.

Apps

Technology has changed the way that people travel. Here are some of the essential apps when travelling Southeast Asia:

  1. “XE currency” and other currency converters, preferably one that works even offline is a must for travellers.
  2. “Google Maps” and “MAPS.me” are some of the recommended map apps by travellers.
  3. “Google translate” can be both your friend and enemy when travelling. Sometimes translations are inaccurate due to local idioms or figures of speech. Learning the local’s language wouldn’t hurt and the best app for that is “Duolingo.”
  4. Ride-sharing or hailing apps available in the region
  5. “Traveloka” and other flight and hotel booking apps for stress-free reservations.
  6. “Food Panda” if you’re not feeling like eating out or you miss fast food, this is the delivery app to go to.
  7. “Trail wallet” is a budget tracking app being that your financial resources are most likely limited during travel

Planning ahead, learning about the place you’re going to, and being smart with your decisions are the keys to a safe and hassle-free travel.

30May

Expat Guide: What to Do in Your First Year in Hong Kong

After living in Hong Kong for one year, you probably already know its famous landmarks and where to find the best Chinese food like the back of your hand. But here are more things you might need to know to settle in nicely and comfortably for the rest of your stay in this thriving, cultured, and fast-paced city.

buying car

  1. Owning/leasing a car and getting a driver’s license
Many Hong Kong residents don’t really consider a car a necessity. The city is small and the public transportation system is renowned for its cleanliness and efficiency. But some expats still feel incomplete without a vehicle. If you have a family or if you’re living in the New Territories, having your own car does have its advantages. You can set your own schedule of coming and going and if you want to relax, a drive to the rural areas to go biking or hiking is made much easier.
If you do decide to get a car, you’ll need a locally-issued driver’s license as your foreign issued license is only good for a year. Here’s what you need in order to be issued with a 10-year Hong Kong license:
  • The current fee
  • The originals, AND copies of, your home license, passport, and HKID card
  • Those over 70 years of age must complete medical form TD256
  • Proof of address, no older than 90 days
You will need to have resided in the country of issue for at least six months since your license was issued, you have held the license for at least five years, and present your passport issued in the same country as the license.

bank account

2. Opening a bank account
If you haven’t opened a bank account in Hong Kong yet, now’s as good a time as any! It’s a straightforward process and being a major international finance center, nearly all major banks are found in Hong Kong. All you’ll need is your passport and a recognized proof of address although some banks may need to see a work or residence permit. If you already have your HKID, this can be used instead of your passport. If your work requires you to travel a lot, HSBC and Standard Chartered are the best banks to accommodate you.

hiking

3. Nature trails and beaches

Of course there’s more to Hong Kong than just the hustle and bustle of business. If you love the great outdoors and yearn to get away from the big city often, Hong Kong has such easy access to nature. Hike the high peaks of Lantau to get a stunning view from the top. Find secluded beaches in Sai Kung and rent kayaks by the hour and revel in the tranquility you can find in such a major city.insurance_0

4. Getting health insurance
After living a year in Hong Kong, you’ll start to get a feel if it’s the right place for you. The city attracts expats because of its unique marriage of Western and Eastern cultures and the great work opportunities it offers. The food is nothing short of amazing and there’s always something to do whether its a fun night out in the city or a quiet drive to the south. If you decide to stay in Hong Kong, you’ll enjoy it so much more with the peace of mind knowing you have health insurance. We can help you get started on the health care that is best for you and your family. Your great new life in Hong Kong is about to begin!
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16May

Easing the Process of Moving to Another Area in Hong Kong

For a lot of people, just the thought of moving can be quite stressful. Where do you even begin? Where can you find time to do all that packing? What if some of your things get lost or damaged? But no matter how stressful it can be, the promise of a better location, better house, or a better life is exciting. And the stress can be managed if you acquire the help of a moving company which Hong Kong has a lot of. Once you get in touch with one, they’ll guide you through what to do at the beginning up to the very end.

Here is a step-by-step guide to moving houses or offices:

1. Talk to your mover

This is pretty obvious. But what specifically should you let your mover know? Your packing and moving dates for one thing, that’s a no-brainer. There’s also things like whether you want to move your belongings by air or sea, if you want your things delivered straight to your new door or at the nearest port, if there are customs or quarantine regulations you need to know about, and if you need extra services once you’ve gotten all your things together. You’re not just hiring them to move your moving boxes from Point A to Point B, their professional opinion is also a great addition.

2. Get your quote and insurance

Once you know exactly how you want your home contents moved down to the last detail, the movers will give you a quote. Then you’ll need to take care and submit the necessary paperwork. And most importantly, you need to get moving insurance. No matter how careful your movers are and how well things are planned, accidents can always happen. It’s best to be prepared, get a coverage plan and a valuation for your valuables. Here is a more detailed guide on what you need to consider.

3. Packing time

Actually this is the movers’ job so what you need to plan is being out of the house on the day that they’re arriving so you won’t get in their way. No need to worry about boxes and how to pack what sort of item (whether it should be bubble-wrapped or padded with styrofoam), it’s part of their job to provide and know all those things.

4. Shipping them out

Once your belongings are ready to be shipped off, it’s important to get all the details. The tracking number of your shipment, the vessel or flight details, departure and arrival dates of the shipment, and contact details of the agent who will handle your belongings once they arrive. That last one is important. You need to get in touch with the person responsible for taking care of things like customs, storage, and delivery.

5. New home sweet home

When your belongings arrive, leave it to the movers to do all the unpacking while you peruse a list to make sure everything is accounted for. They’ll even set up your furniture they way you like it and even take care of getting rid of the empty boxes. Then, once everything is squared away, just relax and enjoy your new place!

And remember it’s always best to get Home Contents Insurance or Office Insurance to make sure you’re adequately covered and reduce the stress when things don’t go as smoothly as you would have liked. If you’re renting, we also recommend getting Renter’s Insurance. We can help arrange this for you at Village Insurance Direct.

2May

Tips for Staying Fit While Pregnant

Exercise during pregnancy is different for every expectant mother. The most important tip to remember is to get clearance from your doctor before engaging with any type of fitness plan.

Women who regularly exercise and have been physically active prior to conceiving will more or less have zero issues with working in a fitness routine in their day. Walking is considered a safe and simple way to get one’s heart rate up.

CALORIE INTAKE

Although you are eating for more than one person, doctors advise that it is important to keep track of your pre-pregnancy weight to determine your required calorie intake to maintain your body’s and baby’s need for proper nutrition.

If your body mass index (BMI) is in a healthy range (between 18.5 and 24.9), you’ll need to eat about 340 more calories a day in the second trimester than before you were pregnant and about 450 more calories a day in the third trimester

PROPER WARDROBE

Stay comfortable by choosing looser fitting clothes that breath and regulates body temperature. Pregnant women tend to have higher body temperature and may overheat during a workout. In addition, make sure your maternity bra is supportive enough, and choose athletic shoes that fit properly. With your feet a little swollen than normal, choose footwear that is 1 to 2 sizes bigger.

EXERCISE AND STRETCHING HELPS WITH BACK & HIP PAIN

Common problems during pregnancy are increased lower back pain, pelvic instability, urinary issues, or reduced functional strength of the abdominal wall. Exercising during pregnancy helps reduce muscle tension. Prenatal pilates and yoga are popular fitness routines women can safely do to help with the usual discomforts of the condition.

STAYING SAFE WITH PROPER MATERNITY INSURANCE 

Maternity insurance covers costs for pre-natal and post-natal treatments. It also covers cost for natural or caesarean delivery where the latter can get very expensive without private insurance. Maternity insurance with extension also helps with costs incurred for fertility treatments and congenital birth defects.

Village Insurance provides help for expats in Hong Kong in finding the best maternity insurance for all of your needs. Get in touch with our agents for more information.

 

30Apr

Singapore or Hong Kong? Where Best to Do Business

Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the best east Asian countries to start establish a business. Hong Kong has taken the lead for the past years but Singapore has been quickly making great strides to compete further.

Companies and brands from the US and UK have had relatively easy entries to both markets. The most common business has to do with building a regional headquarters for a global company as an expansion strategy and amass the Asian market.

HERE ARE HELPFUL INSIGHTS FOR EXPATS WHO ARE CHOOSING BETWEEN HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE TO DO BUSINESS.

As an overview of the two country’s strengths:

  • Singapore has the top destination for maritime trade.
  • Hong Kong is your choice if the objective is to eventually start business in Mainland China.
  • Both have incredibly accessible international airports with hundreds of direct flights from Western regions on a daily basis

LEGAL PROTECTION

It’s a must to have business cover like public liability or product liability insurance. It’s a pre-requisite for any business in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Both countries have strict legal systems with regulations in place to help you with intellectual property rights and dispute resolution departments. However, Singapore wins over Hong Kong in terms of enforcing contracts and property registrations.

GLOBAL RANKINGS

World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business ranking places SG at #2 and Hong Kong at #5. New Zealand was #1 last year.

In the annual Z/Yen survey of global financial centres Hong Kong beats Singapore but as the entry way to China, Hong Kong is the 3rd most powerful financial hub globally. Singapore is currently in 4th place.

Hong Kong ranks 1st in terms of financial services and financial technology.

The criteria for the rankings above are:

  • infrastructure
  • business environment
  • financial sector development
  • human capital
  • reputation

Business registration can both be done online via website registration.  The headline Singapore tax rate is 17% whereas it’s 16.5% in Hong Kong. There are also many tax exemptions available for both.

In Singapore, one of the directors must be a citizen while Hong Kong allows 100% ownership by expats.

Ready to get started with your new businesses? Get in touch with us for all your business insurance needs.

4Apr

Must Know Information for Inheritance Tax for Expats

Did you know that your beneficiaries may be charged a large amount Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill in case of death. The cost of IHT is almost as equally large as the amount being left. In 2012 to 2013, over £4 billion in inheritance tax was paid to the UK government including sums paid by expats from Hong Kong.

WHO WILL PAY FOR INHERITANCE TAX?

IHT liability is based on one’s permanent residence or domicile. There are two types of domicile: domicile of origin and domicile of choice.

A domicile of choice can be established if you can demonstrate that you have severed all connections with your “homeland” and established permanent ties elsewhere.

A domicile of origin may be challenge to change. Note that if you transfer one more time your domicile of origin will revive until you establish a new one. If you are domiciled in the United Kingdom, IHT applies to your global assets.If you are domiciled elsewhere, IHT is charged on your assets held in the UK.

IHT is charged through three main channels:

  • On your estate in the event of your death
  • On any gifts you present to individuals in the last 7 years of your lifetime
  • On any gifts to the most common type of Trust that you make through your lifetime

Everyone is entitled to make a certain proportion of gifts sans taxation and this is called the “nil-rate band”. Current cost is £325,000 which will remain so unti 2021. All excess above this band is charged at 40%.

Generally, property owners automatically follows the IHT net even before taking into account the total value of their investments. But note that it’s possible to reduce your exposure to this punitive tax.

Inheritance Tax is often treated as a “voluntary” tax because its impact may be mitigated. If you have large amounts of assets but don’t want to leave control over these or make gifts, you can still lower the cost of IHT by carefully planning your will.

LEAVING A WILL

Ensuring one has a will in place is a way to protect your loved ones from incurring impossibly high cost of IHT in the case where substantial assets are involved. For instance, a married couple and civil partners can do what the industry calls a “double up” on their nil rates and this implies that up to £650,000 can automatically pass free of IHT. One common myth about leaving your assets to your spouse or civil partner is that they get half if you die. This is not a fact.

Also, it is crucial to remember that minors cannot inherit money or property which means you need to assign someone to make the arrangements until they turn 18.The courts may choose this person for you if you fail to do so in your will.

Expats often have assets in parts of the world and all these have to go through the courts of the different jurisdictions. Delays can happen if one does not make the necessary arrangements in their will. There are also insurance that covers the cost of inheritance tax. Ask us about it. We help expats in Hong Kong.

3Mar

Expat Guide: Find a Nanny & Domestic Helper Insurance in Hong Kong

Finding a nanny can overwhelming and a new experience for expats in Hong Kong. What parents need to determine for themselves are: “What are our main motivations for hiring a nanny?” Often times, it boils down to a family’s preferences.

In Hong Kong having a nanny or domestic helper means they need to reside in your home. This is unfamiliar territory for many expats. In reality, there are plenty of domestic helpers who don’t live with their employers under illegal circumstances which is very risky for them as well as the people who hire them.

Furthermore, employers are required to provide Domestic Helper Insurance as part of their legal obligation.

In addition to having a worker live on the premises, parents or employers need to be mindful their objectives. Do they only need a worker or someone to play a role in tutoring the children? Parents also need to keep in mind that not every nanny is qualified to take care of children.

SCREEN THE HELPERS YOU PLAN TO HIRE

It is crucial that the domestic worker or nanny’s background is thoroughly checked. When it comes to applicants, it is important that you know that your nanny, the person taking care of your children is clean. There are different paths you can go around to do these screenings.

There are four checks that The Nanny Experts recommend when hiring someone for child care.

  1. References – Verify previous employers and dates
  2. Qualifications – Nannies and childcare workers should have a minimum of first aid and CPR.
  3. Criminal Checks – Most agencies will check the last ten years of employment (Some will request that potential nannies have these documents from their home countries)
  4. Medical check

CONTRACT AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

Parents who are considering hiring a nanny need to be mindful of contract and work permit laws in Hong Kong. When it comes to the work contract, employers need to be direct about what they expect from the nanny. Be thorough about their job description when drafting their contract. It is essential that the nanny and the family have clear communication and respect for one another. When you write it out and go over the contract together you talk about these things. Communication is really important.

For more information on how to hire domestic help, drama-free, read our blog here: http://villageinsurancedirect.com/expat-guide-hiring-domestic-helper/