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/

27Feb

How to Rent Property in Hong Kong

 

If you’re looking to rent property in Hong Kong, here are some guidelines to help smoothen the process.

scoping-for-land

First things first, you need to assess the market and find out what you can afford. Research what is available for your budget and two to four weeks before moving in, you’ll need to start an actual visit to these properties. Once you’re at the physical checking stage, it’s best to hire an agent who you can work with and who can show you the properties with the details you’re looking for.

details

If you’ve found some properties that interest you, it’s time to ask a lot of important questions that will aid in narrowing down your choices. You’ll need to find out who the landlord is and make sure this person is someone you can get along with since you’ll be dealing with them for the duration of your stay. Ask how long the property has been on the market and if it’s been a few months, find out why. If it’s under a mortgage, you’ll need your agent to secure a Mortgagee Consent and this may affect your move-in date. And of course, you have to inspect every inch of the property. Make sure utilities are in good working condition, there’s no mold on the walls, electrical outlets are safe, lights are working, and that the entire place is generally safe to live in. Once you’re living there and you find something wrong, you’ll regret you weren’t more thorough.

negotiate

Once you’ve decided on a property that has what you’re looking for, it’s time to make an offer to your agent then you will receive a provisional rental agreement. Rent, lease terms (including handover and move-in date), break clause, and maintenance works are open to discussion. Speak with the landlord and set realistic deadlines on anything they have to fix. It’s important to establish a great relationship with your landlord from the get-go to live happily in your new place.

The provisional rental agreement must be signed first and then the tenancy agreement. Review these careful as they are legally binding documents. Your agent can help you with this or if it’s too complicated, you can hire a solicitor. After you’ve signed the provisional rental agreement, you’ll need to give a deposit worth two month’s rent. Then the tenancy agreement comes next which includes stamp duty which you can split halfway with the landlord.

Once you get the keys to the place, it’s important to run one last inspection and document everything. Take photos of the property and keep them as records. Check any work that was done and document scratches, chips, or any kind of marks to prove they were there before you moved in, the number of keys, remote controls, and the gas and water metres. Your agent should make sure that all additional work you requested from your landlord should be completed at this point, the property should be clean and ready for you to reside in, and utility accounts are connected.

If you follow these steps, finding the right place to live in will come easily and you’ll find yourself enjoying your new place for as long as you’re there.

We recommend getting Renter’s Insurance to protect your possessions inside your apartment.

12Feb

Mental Health for Expats: Reducing Stress & Anxiety After Moving

The importance of paying attention to one’s mental health is now more crucial than ever. Expats in particular deal with different forms of stress and anxiety. Research has shown that a major life transition such as geographically moving from one’s native country to a different one is one of the top causes of stress and anxiety–along with death of family and divorce.

Expats deal with moving from one location to another every 3 to 4 years and this is on top of adjusting to a new job, new people, and culture. The lack of a stable support system such as one’s usual friends and family makes it all the more challenging to manage the mental and emotional tolls from such situations.

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stress comes in anticipation of a threat. It’s a physiological response. Excessive adrenaline is produced by the body, our heart rate increases and muscles become tensed. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure and for expats, the source is more often emotional and psychological.

Identifying the trigger is easier when we feel stress but catch it early. When we feel anxiety, there is usually no trigger we can identify. We just know we are worried, uncomfortable, and preoccupied with our thoughts. This is the difference between stress and anxiety.

Dealing with stress…

Evaluate your physical condition. Are your shoulders tensed? Is your breathing shallow? These are physical manifestations of stress. To help you slow your breathing, try these techniques:

Take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling out your mouth. Your belly should expand with every inhale. Focus on your breathing and you should feel your mind slowing down after the 10th exhale.

You can also try deep breathing while clutching a pillow on your chest. Squeeze as tightly as you can when you breath in. Release and breath out.

Running to release tension is also an alternative if you are looking for a high impact activity.

These simple techniques are not the sole solutions but they will help you manage yourself better more quickly.

What about anxiety?

The unknown is the most probable cause of anxiety among expats. It’s a lingering feeling of restlessness or nervousness. In order to start dealing with the situation, it is important to acknowledge the thoughts that continue to bother us. Let these thoughts pass by our minds, and let them go.

Letting go of the thoughts does not equate to inaction but it will help you have have a clearer perspective on which decisions are more important and which ones are merely thoughts.

If no changes are felt or noticed, seek the help of a mental health professional. Here is a list of private psychiatrists in Hong Kong.

Check your health insurance plan if they cover therapy and maintenance drugs. You can also choose to upgrade your existing medical insurance to cover your needs. Contact us to learn more about insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

27Jan

Information on Scoliosis in Kids: Treatment Options in Hong Kong

WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?

Scoliosis is a lateral (toward the side) curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.

CAUSES

The causes for 80 to 85% of all scoliosis cases are usually unknown. Boys and girls are equally affected by small curves, but girls are eight times more likely to develop progressive curves. According to recent research, about one in three children whose parents have scoliosis will develop scoliosis. Scoliosis is considered a partially genetic condition; however, exactly which genes cause scoliosis is inconclusive.

MYTHS

Parents should understand that the following factors are not associated with the condition:

  • Carrying school bags
  • Bad posture
  • Unequal leg length
  • Back injury
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Sports activities

TREATMENT

There are 4 big hospitals that specialize in both children and adult scoliosis treatment. Check your insurance provider if these are part of their partner institutions.

For moderate curves in growing children, brace treatment is recommended. Braces will not completely eliminate scoliosis. However, a well-fitted and diligently worn corrective brace can significantly slow or prevent curve progression.

For the very small number of children with severe curves, internal fixation is applied to the spine to correct the curve within the limits of safety. Nowadays, surgery for scoliosis has been made very safe by major advances in surgical techniques.

Get a family insurance policy that covers treatment and therapy for scoliosis. We help expats find the best health covers that include medical insurance for children. Get in touch with us today.

19Jan

Updated Guide to Hong Kong Healthcare

Hong Kong remains as one of the best providers of public healthcare in the world. However, as expats, it is always advisable to prepare one’s self with the proper insurance cover to for any unforeseen circumstances such as the need for repatriation or emergency surgery.

Hong Kong’s public sector has 42 public hospitals, 47 specialist out-patient clinics, and 73 general out-patient clinics, all organised into seven clusters according to their locations.

Here is an updated information on the country’s healthcare system as of 2018.

PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

Hong Kong provides residents with excellent and highly affordable health services. The life expectancy in the country is currently the world’s third highest and infant mortality is the ninth lowest. Here is the list of public health institutions.

DOCTORS

Finding your preferred doctor is easy; simply log on to the government’s Primary Care Directory and select your specialist. Antenatal and postnatal care, well women services and childhood vaccinations take place at 34 dedicated Maternal and Child Health Centres across the SAR.

When attending an appointment, you’ll be asked to register with your Hong Kong ID and pay a small fee, usually by cash or Octopus card.

There are also a good number of private healthcare practitioners in Hong Kong, and access to their services will depend in no small part on your individual insurance coverage. Some insurers provide a pre-approved list of doctors, whereas others will allow patients free choice of doctor according to their policy’s financial limit. Opting to visit a private doctor will usually mean that you can choose your specialist according to your own needs and schedule, with shorter waiting times than in the public system.

Make sure to ask your insurance provider and confirm your cover details as well as payment methods.

HOSPITALS

In an emergency, you’ll be transported by ambulance to the nearest public hospital for treatment. With 17 public hospitals across Hong Kong providing Accident and Emergency services, and air ambulance services available to assist with evacuation from Hong Kong’s less accessible regions, you’re never too far away from help. Hong Kong’s A&E care operates on a triage basis, and is charged at a flat rate of $100 per visit. Once assessed by a doctor, if you’re subsequently admitted to hospital, you’ll be charged a $50 admission fee, then $100 per day, payable by cash or Octopus card.

There are currently 11 private hospitals that are internationally accredited in Hong Kong. Most provide 24-hour outpatient services for urgent cases and can arrange transfer to a public hospital for accident and emergency services if deemed necessary. Many of Hong Kong’s private hospitals are renowned for their specialist areas of expertise, including obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics and ophthalmology, to name a few.

As with private doctors, you should always confirm the hospital’s billing process with your insurer, and check that any extras, such as medicines, private accommodation or out-of-hours surgery are covered.

To get the best insurance for personal or family cover, get in touch with us. We specialise in insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

13Jan

Common Expat Concerns After Arriving 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.

Need help in finding personal, family, or business insurance? Contact Village Insurance for enquiries.

19Dec

Employer’s Guide to Employee Compensation Insurance in Hong Kong

 

Employee Compensation Insurance or EC Insurance is a liability cover specific for businesses with hired workers. This is mandatory in Hong Kong for all businesses.

According to Section 40 of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, Chapter 282 of the Laws of Hong Kong, no employer shall employ any employee in any employment unless there is in force a policy of insurance to cover their liabilities both under the Ordinance and at common law for injuries at work in respect of all their employees, irrespective of the length of employment contract or working hours, full-time or part-time, permanent job or temporary employment.

This ordinance also applies to domestic helper insurance but will vary in cost and coverage.

An employer who fails to comply with the Ordinance to secure an insurance cover commits an offence and is liable on conviction to amaximum fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment for two years.

MUST-KNOW FOR EMPLOYERS

  • Minimum insurance cover

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  • Full cost of insurance CANNOT be deducted from your employees’ earnings. A breach in this ordinance makes the employer liable to a fine of $10,000 and 6 months imprisonment.
  • When you add more employees to your business, make sure you contact your insurance provider to discuss any adjustments.
  • Ask if the Employee Compensation Insurance covers subcontractors. You are not required to take out a policy for them as there is another type of insurance they can arrange for themselves. You can read our blog about being an expat contractor in Hong Kong here.
  • Take note of sick leaves and medical expenses in case an employee is injured during work.

Some information for Employers and Employees

Employee Compensation Insurance covers the following:

  • medical care from injury or illness
  • replacement income (start date may vary)
  • costs for retraining
  • compensation for any permanent injuries
  • benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job
  • policy does not cover pain and suffering
  • some policies can cover long term and permanent injuries
  • volunteers workers may also be covered by some policies

Once an employee makes a claim, they forfeit any chances of pursuing a legal complaint against the company.

FOR A QUOTE OR MORE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS INSURANCE, FILL UP THE FORM HERE: Employee Compensation Insurance Quote

14Dec

Expat Guide: Schools in Hong Kong

The former British colony’s education system is highly regarded with top standards. Even public schools uphold quality curriculums but are mainly taught in Cantonese with a focus on repetitive examinations—a system that might be different from what expats look for in a school. As a result, expats favor international schools.

ENTERING HONG KONG SCHOOLS

The first thing expats must know is that getting into good schools in Hong Kong could be challenging. The demand is high and so are the standards. If you’re planning to move with your family, we recommend you start your application a year early to take into account the waiting period. Affluent locals also compete for slots that make the process even more challenging. Some international companies sometimes reserve spots for their employees’ children so check to see if your employer can provide you with assistance.

Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong culture. Teachers are treated with a great deal of respect, and students tend to be disciplined and well behaved.

The school year in Hong Kong typically runs from September to July.
top schools in hongkong
Expats who choose to reside in Kowloon or the New Territories choose an international school based because of their close proximity to more international schools.

Expats also have to note that if your package does not include subsidy for your kid’s education, you might find tuition for international schools quite costly so best to look at all possible options.

Below is a list of international schools you can start with:

Hong Kong International School
www.hkis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 4 to 18

Harrow International School Hong Kong
www.harrowschool.hk/
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 4 to 18

American International School of Hong Kong
www.ais.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
div dir=”ltr”>Ages: 3 to 18

Australian International School Hong Kong
www.aishk.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Australian and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Beacon Hill School
www.beaconhill.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 10

Bradbury Junior School
www.bradbury.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 10

Canadian International Schools of Hong Kong
www.cdnis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Ontario) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Carmel School of Hong Kong
www.carmel.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Jewish and general studies
Ages: 3 to 12

International Montessori School
www.montessori.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Montessori
Ages: 1,5 to 12

Kellet School (British International School in Hong Kong)
www.kellettschool.com

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 3 to 14

King George V School
www.kgv.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 12 to 18

Quarry Bay School
www.qbs.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 5 to 13

Yew Chung International School
www.ycis-hk.com
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: IGCSE (Cambridge) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 6 months to 19

For any assistance on family or personal insurance, we help find the best cover for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us today.