16Aug

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.

5Aug

Expat Guide: Buying a Used Vehicle in Hong Kong

While there are excellent public transport options in Hong Kong, there are definitely instances where having your own wheels makes life easier.

Here are tips for expats who plan to purchase a used car in Hong Kong:

1. Contact the seller

You might want to ask the following questions that are the most commonly asked in Hong Kong:

“How many previous owners has the car had?”

A car with many owners can be difficult to sell. Bear in mind, if a car has been imported from overseas then the number of previous owners shown will be zero.

“How many kilometres has it done?”

It can be difficult to accumulate kilometres on a car in HK. High-mileage cars are a big deterrent, especially for sporty cars, as these tend to get driven on weekends only.

“What’s the expiry date of the vehicle licence (registration)?”

Registration in Hong Kong is valid for one year. The fee is based on the engine size. Cars that are seven years or older will need a roadworthiness inspection (MOT) by a government-appointed garage within four months of renewing the vehicle licence.

If you’re happy after the initial Q&A, the next step is to meet with the owner. We suggest viewing the car during the day. Have a thorough look at the exterior and interior of the car, and at any maintenance history and receipts the owner may have. It’s rare to find cars with a full history, and the common story is that the missing records were “lost”. Most owners will be hesitant to allow you to test drive a car; instead, they’ll offer a “test ride” where you sit in the passenger’s seat for a drive.

2. Agree to a deal

If you’re happy with the condition of the car and ready to make a deal, what price should you offer? As with most things in Hong Kong, negotiation is common; it’s not unreasonable to offer 20% below the asking price. Once you both agree to a price, a five% deposit should secure your commitment. We strongly recommend you arrange an inspection; these range from HK$500 to $2,500 and can save you a lot of money and grief in the future.

3. Arrange insurance

Hong Kong requires a minimum of third-party insurance for a vehicle. Arranging insurance is quick and easy, and typically cheaper than in other countries. Note: Before committing to a car, make sure you are eligible for insurance. Certain car models require a minimum age and a No Claims Bonus (NCB) percentage. Village Insurance Direct helps expats find Motor Insurance that’s affordable and comprehensive.

4. Finalise the transfer of ownership

The final stage is to visit the Transport Department with the following required documents: insurance cover note, HKID, proof of address (within the past three months), and form TD25 to be completed and signed by both parties, along with a HK$1,000 transfer fee (at the buyer’s expense). The owner will sign form TD25 once they have received the remaining balance for the car. This can be done by cash, cheque or bank cashier order at the seller’s request

12Jul

Expat Guide: Transportation in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s transport system is very fast, accessible and efficient. It does not pose much of a issue for expats because of the array of options to get around the city. Their public transport network includes ferries, trams and even outdoor escalators. What’s very notable is Hong Kong’s MTR system that’s recognized as one of the best globally. Taxi fares are also relatively cheap. This is the reason why citizens have not much need for a private car.

BUSES IN HONG KONG

There is no shortage of bus networks in the city. Rush hour can be quite an experience with the outpour of workers flocking to get to their offices so expect crowding early in the morning and after 6PM. There are also over 4000 minibus services across the city which can service up to 16 passengers. Green minibuses have specific stops and the red ones will stop anywhere along their route.

The bus will stop accommodating new passengers once its full. We recommend getting an Octupus card for easier payment. The signal for “Stop the bus” (if a bell is absent) is “yauh lohk”.

“DING DINGS” or TRAMS

This is a good option if you want a relaxing, chill ride because they are slower than the other forms of commute. The top deck is popular among tourists or locals who just want to slow down and appreciate the city. Trams operate between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan from about 5.30am to 12mn and you pay before exiting.

TAXIS IN HONG KONG

Some taxi drivers do not understand western accents so we recommend having Google Maps and a translator app on hand when getting on a taxi for the 1st few weeks. This form of transport is cheaper when compared to other global cities and they are quite efficient except when getting caught in traffic. Blue taxis are only permitted to travel within Lantau Island similar to green taxis that only operate within the New Territories. Red taxis are for Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but one important tip is that if red taxi drops someone off on Hong Kong Island, they can only pick up passengers heading back to their designated area and this applies to all networks of taxis

FERRIES

Star Ferry is the most popular line in Hong Kong. Take it if you’re planning to go around Central and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui’s Clock Tower. Other vessels offer regular services for residents of the outlying islands. Lamma, Cheung Chau, Discovery Bay, Ma Wan’s Park Island, Mui Wo and Peng Chau have dedicated daily services leaving from the Central Ferry Piers. Other ferries shunt from Aberdeen, Wan Chai, Hung Hom and North Point.

OUTDOOR ESCALATORS

Yes, escalators. The Mid-level neighborhood is known for its long and extensive outdoor escalators that take you from one block to the next or even farther. Most parts of the Mid-levels are steep streets and these escalators prove to be very convenient for this type of urban terrain. No need to pay when using them.

14Jun

Infographic: Global Cyber Attack Statistics

The threat to cyber security has increased over the past 10 years. Businesses have paid large sums to recover files and systems which all could have been avoided if we only treat cyberattacks as a big possibility. Here are the numbers on cyber attacks on global businesses.

Ask us how we can help your business with the proper insurance cover.

30May

Expat Guide: Why You Need International Health Insurance

Hong Kong’s medical facilities and inpatient services is one of the best in the world. It is also one of the reasons why it is considered an expat hub in Asia. As a foreigner in a top global city, should you consider international health insurance?

The simple answer is YES.

SPEND LESS ON PRIVATE FOR HOSPITAL CARE

International private health insurance covers a bulk of the expense should one choose to go to a private hospital. Without a Hong Kong ID card, public health care could be a challenge especially for fatal injuries or chronic illness. Although public hospitals and their doctors are world-class in Hong Kong, immediate and consistent attention to your needs as a patient is better guaranteed with private health insurance.

COMPLIMENT YOUR MOBILITY

Expats often find themselves traveling to other countries on top of the new country they have chosen to reside. International health insurance follows you wherever you are and it till give you peace of mind in situations where local hospital may be unable to provide for your needs. The advantage of having this type of insurance is also having glocal service from your provider’s customer support so you know exactly what your policy can cover.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION

This is one of the best features of international health insurance. For expats who live in high-risk areas or live active lifestyles that may hold more risks than usual, getting covered for emergency evacuation could be what separates you from life or death. Repatriation cover allows expats to be flown back to their home country if necessary.

SUPPLEMENT FOR YOUR COMPANY-PROVIDED INSURANCE

Check if the company health insurance covers for family members or for chronic diseases. If you have special medical needs and your company insurance does not cater to its treatment, an international health insurance cover should be able to take care of what’s lacking.

OTHER HEALTH COVER

This health insurance policy is generally comprehensive and can cover maternity and cancer treatment. It all depends on your needs as well as your family’s. Village Insurance Direct helps expat find the affordable and complete international health insurance from established providers in Hong Kong.

 

11May

Expat Guide: Expecting a Baby in Hong Kong

Hong Kong hospitals are one of the best in Asia and the world. Public health hospitals have a fantastic reputation for being clean and safe but not as comfortable at times with long queues.

Expats with valid HK ID cards can easily seek medical attention at a minimum cost from public heath care facilities. The bed fee and ultrasound which cost $100 per day and $300 per copy, respectively are the more common expenses you’ll pay for when in a public hospital. However, we cannot always anticipate other risks during pregnancy and this is why choosing a private hospital remains the best option to keep the mother and the baby safe.

The Consumer Council has shared that there are plenty of options for private maternity packages that compete on the size of the private suite and the range and grade of the facilities provided. These sets of medical procedures are generally priced equally for residents and non-residents but that may not always be the case.

One has to consider the doctor’s fee, obstetrician and anesthetist. These are generally separate from the maternity package. It’s crucial that you ask for an itemized rundown of the specific services that are included in your health insurance policy once you choose to be treated in a private hospital.

Private health care is understandably more expensive but given the right health insurance cover; expats can fully take advantage of the best facilities and doctors around.  Some health insurance policies can cover the entire cost of maternity care.

Cost of Maternity Procedures in Hong Kong

cost_of_maternity_hong_kong

The costs mentioned do not take account the months that lead up to the birth including gynecological visits, ultrasounds and other tests.

The complete cost of delivering at one of Hong Kong’s private hospitals could sum up to more or less o$100K but this amount provides luxuries that won’t be available in public facilities. Most private hospitals also require that you put down a deposit, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.

One highly recommended private hospital with a relatively cheaper maternity package ranges between $17,000 for residents and $35,000 for non-residents. This fee is for natural delivery in a Standard Room with 3-6 beds.

Other special fees include paying for a pediatrician to be in attendance during delivery (not optional) and a 30% surcharge for each additional baby in cases of twins or more.

Emergency C-Section with 5 nights can cost up to $51,000 for a standard room with 4 beds and around $97,000 for a private room. More complications can cost up to $150,000

Choosing a Health Insurance Cover

Pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition and most insurance providers will not accept your application if you are already pregnant. Unless you are joining a group plan, some may waive or shorten the waiting period (ask when “waiting period” begins as it may vary per provider). Most insurers will not cover women after the age of 44 so that also plays into your application.

An annual fee of  $8,200 for health insurance with maternity cover can have a $20,000 limit on maternity cover. There are also policies with $10,200 annual fee with $10,000 maternity cover. Some insurance providers also provide newborn cover while some keep that policy separate.

This is where having a reliable insurance broker is important.  Details on uncommon risks like congenital diseases and newborn care need to adhere to what you specifically need and one might not immediately foresee these things without professional assistance.

Village Insurance finds the best cover for you depending on your condition and budget. Get a quote or send us a message for further inquiries. We’d like to help.

Feel free to connect with Mark Bromhead on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

21Apr

Expat Guide: Flying Your Pets to Hong Kong

Having the option of taking our pets with us when we move overseas reduces the anxiety of living in an unfamiliar place. It is now much simpler for expats in Hong Kong to bring their animal companions to the country. Here’s some information you might find useful.pet permit
Expat pet owners need to apply for a Special Permit with a specified fee before arriving in Hong Kong. Cost varies on the type of animal you’ll be bringing.. The permit is valid for 6 months.

For dogs over the age of 5 months, you will also need to acquire a license from the Agriculture & Fisheries Department (AFCD). An appointment is not needed and it only takes half an hour to have your dog vaccinated and microchipped.  This microchip holds your dog’s identification code which is required for all pets in Hong Kong.expat guide to pets
Group 1 countries which include the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Japan no longer need to have their pets vaccinated in Hong Kong. Group 2 and 3 countries must still comply.

All dogs must be vaccinated against:
·      canine distemper
·      infectious canine hepatitis
·      canine parvovirus.

All cats must be vaccinated against :
·      feline panleucopaenia (infectious enteritis)
·      feline respiratory disease complex.flight
Pets must enter as air cargo at the international airport in Hong Kong. Make sure that you book flight that’s as direct as possible and not transit through a high-rabies country. If your pet is changing aircraft in Hong Kong or will be in transit for more than 6 hours, it will need a transit permit. Import permits are required for pets transiting Hong Kong from mainland China.

Important: Inform the Duty Officer of the Import & Export Section at least 24 hours ahead of arrival.

It is also important to prepare your pets before your travel because it can be a stressful situation for them. Read on how you can reduce stress for pets during travel.

Upon arrival, dogs, cats and ferrets will be examined at the port of entry. If your pet is deemed to not be in good health, further examination by a licensed veterinarian may be required at your expense. If all requirements are met, your pet will be released to you after examination.know your vets
It is also important to have a list of licensed veterinarians in Hong Kong so you know where to take your pets when they get sick.

You can see the list here: http://www.vsbhk.org.hk/eng/vsro.asppet insurance
An overnight stay at the vet can cost you HK$1000. That does not include medication and other tests. Vet clinics can also set their fees at their own discretion because there isn’t a proper regulatory board to control this in Hong Kong. This is one of the current issues faced by pet making Pet Insurance a crucial protection to have.

We help expats with Pet Insurance and other insurance covers.

13Apr

Expat Guide: Common Concerns in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the safest cities for expats. There is also a large expat community providing an easier transition for people who move to the country as singles or with their families.

The biggest adjustment is often the language barrier but on top of that, there are other common concerns felt by expat. InterNations conducted a survey on November 2017 and these were identified as the most common concerns:

SOCIAL CIRCLES

Missing one’s friends is normal. But there is an expansive network of expats whom one can treat as their close support group. There are also numerous interest groups and organizations to join. In addition, social networks and instant messaging has made it easy to stay in touch with people back home. Setting schedules to chat or video call helps make the distance seem smaller.

Business culture with coworkers also falls under this category as Hong Kongers are known to be very serious workers. The most important thing to remember is to remain open and flexible with the local culture because it’s you who needs to adjust. You’ll find that the experience is more pleasant than what you may have initially assumed. One way to initiate social interactions with coworkers is adding them as a professional connection through LinkedIn. This establishes a professional yet approachable means of reaching out to people you work with.

GIVING BIRTH IN HONG KONG

Hong Kong has one of the top medical facilities in the Asia. Having a child is not so much the issue but rather making the choice of giving birth in a public hospital or subscribing to private health care.

Having health insurance that can cover $100,000 or more for prenatal and postnatal care implies checking into a private hospital so you can choose your own obstetrician, have a private room, and get regular check-ups with the same doctor. This is not to say that public healthcare is bad in Hong Kong. In fact, public medical facilities are quite advanced, however, one gains greater control over what happens to you with insurance and private care.

Village Insurance Direct is one of the few companies that help expats find comprehensive health insurance in Hong Kong.

GETTING A NANNY OR DOMESTIC HELPER

Expat parents don’t have to necessarily get a domestic helper or nanny but it is one of the normal practices for dual earning households. Having a nanny to take care of the kids instead of leaving them in a day care is preferred by more expats.

We’ve written a blog which provides useful information on the process and expectations when getting a domestic helper. You can read it here: Expat Guide: Hiring a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong

Note that employers are required to get insurance for domestic helpers. We also provide help in finding cheap insurance for expats.

IS IT WORTH LEARNING MANDARIN/CHINESE?

Taking on the challenge of learning a new language to better communicate with coworkers and new friends is worth the time and effort. Not only will it make life easier but you’ll find that you’ll be more open to exploring other activities outside of your comfort zone.

There are tutors that are available on an hourly basis. One can easily get an online tutor and conduct the lessons online to save the time of going to class. But learning is different for everyone so we recommend trying both to see which works for you.