14Apr

Hong Kong Federation of Insurance Urges You to Check Your Policies

With regard to the continued spread of the Novel Coronavirus, the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) has provided the following information regarding various types of insurance you can get if you’re not covered yet.

Supplement your travel insurance policies if you’re planning to travel anywhere that hasn’t been affected by the flight bans in several countries.

We also recommend that you check your current policies if you’re covered. The actual coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of individual policy.

Medical Insurance

> Some insurance companies have announced that hospitalization/treatments prescribed for the Novel Coronavirus will be covered. If the insured person is diagnosed as suffering from Novel Coronavirus or is ordered mandatory quarantine, the insurance company will provide additional hospital cash protection. For customers taking out a new policy within a specified period of time, the waiting period for Novel Coronavirus will be waived.

> At the same time, some insurance companies have prioritized and simplified the outpatients and hospitalization claims diagnosed with the coronavirus.

> The above-extended coverage varies among insurance companies. Policyholders are advised to check with their respective insurance companies/intermediaries.

Employees’ Compensation Insurance

> Employees’ Compensation (EC) Insurance is statutory insurance. If an employee sustains an injury or dies as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, his / her employer is in general liable to pay compensation under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (ECO) and the common law.

> For example, if an employee suffers from a slip injury during work from home as arranged by the employer, he / she needs to prove that the injury is related to his/ her work. Otherwise, he / she may not be covered by the EC insurance. For common law damages, the employee must obtain proof that the accident was caused by the employer’s negligence.

> The Novel Coronavirus is not an occupational disease specified in the ECO. However, if an employee is infected with the Novel Coronavirus as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment as stipulated in the ECO, the employee can still claim for loss under this ordinance. Yet the final result is subject to the court’s judgment.

For any enquiries about the insurance policy, please contact the insurance company / intermediary directly.

Travel Insurance

> If the itinerary is cancelled due to restrictions on entry (such as refusal of entry or failure to obtain a visa), in general, it is not a named peril covered by the travel insurance. Passengers should apply to vehicle operators, such as airlines, for refunds of airfare (depending on the arrangements of the relevant organizations).

> If the insured person unfortunately contracts the Novel Coronavirus while he’s overseas, he can claim for the medical / hospitalization expenses. If the itinerary needs to be changed because of his health condition / medical treatment, the additional accommodation and transportation costs may also be covered.

> If the insured person unfortunately suffers from the Novel Coronavirus before the tour starts and cannot start the journey, he may apply for compensation on the tour cancellation.

As the products of different insurance companies vary, policyholders should pay attention to the terms and conditions of their own policy and should check with their insurance company / intermediary directly for enquiries.

29Mar

Infographic: Threats to Hong Kong’s Life Expectancy

Hong Kong is currently the country with the highest life expectancy in the world. Access to public health and healthy living is among the best worldwide, however, factors threaten to displace their ranking.

The infographic below discusses these factors.

13Mar

What If I’ve Booked My Flight? Covid-19 & Travel Insurance

As the coronavirus crisis grows, should you stay or should you go when you’ve already booked your flight?

 

Here are quick answers to your frequently asked questions:

Q: Should I still travel?

A: The advice is against ‘all but essential’ travel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against travel to a number of areas due to the ongoing outbreak. Please check the UK FCO website for country-specific information.

Be aware that there may be enhanced screening/monitoring at entry and exit ports. In some countries, you may also be required to self-isolate for a set period, even if you do not have symptoms.

Q: Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?

A: Flights to affected areas are being cancelled based on FCO advice and some are solely due to a downturn in bookings.

If you booked directly with an airline, you are eligible for a refund or to rebook free of charge (although you may still have to pay any fare difference incurred). If you booked through a third party, you will need to contact them to find out your options.

Q: I’m apprehensive to travel but I’d like to push through. What does my insurance cover?

A: Airlines, tour companies and insurance providers have no obligation to offer refunds based on panic.

So if you decide not to travel to anywhere outside the FCO travel risk list, you are unlikely to get refunded. It’s worth checking because some providers may allow you to move the booking as an incentive or an act of goodwill.

Q: Am I insured for cancellations?

A: Contact your airline, hotel or tour operator to check their policy.

If they can’t help, you will most likely need to have travel disruption cover included in your policy if you plan on travelling and getting insurance.

AA, Co-op, LV and Virgin Money all have policies that will cover for cancellations based on FCO advice, and hotel costs should your flight be cancelled. You also have protection using a credit card if your booking was more than £100. 

Q: What if I end up in quarantine?

A: Comply with the rules of local authorities, which will probably involve a 14-day quarantine. It is unclear who will cover the cost of your journey home: either the UK Government could arrange a rescue flight or your travel insurance could cover your return. Check your policy provider.

Most insurance policies will cover medical costs should you become ill overseas but make sure you check the small print. If you’ve booked and simply don’t want to travel because you’re worried, you won’t have grounds for a refund.

Upon Your Return

Returned travellers who feel unwell with either a high temperature or new continuous cough, need to self-isolate for 7 days, see the Public Health England stay at home guidance. There is no need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. However, if symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, returned travellers in England, should contact NHS 111 online. Those without internet access, should call NHS 111 and for a medical emergency dial 999. In Wales and Northern Ireland contact NHS 111. In Scotland, phone your GP or NHS24 (111).

2Mar

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.

6Dec

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.

28Oct

Traveling for Food: Exploring food allergies

What draws you to travel?

What blossomed in the East started to find its way into the global palate. Expats from Europe and the US have made gastronomic trips to Asia to further understand the culture of each different country, from the bowls of spicy noodles to the more exotic street and hawker stalls.

However, there is a limit to knowing the world through cuisines. Embedded within us is a limiting agent in the form of allergies to remind us that our body can only handle so much.

Allergies are our body’s unique way of telling us what is compatible and what is not to our system. The reactions extend to the basic choices we make such as “tasty” or “not”.

By law, the FDA has listed eight categories as designated food allergens (Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans).

The categories seem easy on first glance until you realize that food allergies vary individually. Recent researches highlight the stark contrast with allergens through regions, such as in the West versus the East. This is vital information for travellers.

Here are a few common food allergies to help backpackers, expats, and casual travellers be more cautious while they explore Asia through food.

food allergies while travelling - Village Insurance Direct Hong Kong

Shellfish

According to a paper written in 2013, shellfish tops the list in food allergens in Asians, particularly in children, mainly due to its availability and demand in the region. A 2014 study from the Singapore Medical Journal, also reinforces the idea. While a lot of Asian cuisines is built on shellfish, a large chunk of the population remains highly allergic to it.

Peanuts

Peanuts remain as the top allergen in America and in some parts of Europe. The total number of cases in Asia is relatively low, but in some areas like in Singapore, the statistics prove otherwise. A good 15 years ago, peanut allergies had lower cases and aren’t considered a top allergen, until recently. This is a testament to the changing diets Asians have had through the years.

Wheat

Rice is the staple carbohydrate of every Asian. But to have wheat included in the list makes you want to feel bad for craving for bread as much as the next guy. Japan and South Korea, two countries famous for revolutionary modern takes on bread, suffer from prevalent cases of wheat allergy. They also rake in high numbers of anaphylaxis cases from this specific allergen.

Travel as much as you like, and eat as much as you like. Food allergies exist to make you aware of your limits, but not to scare you to crawl back to your comfort zones. Be bold and stick NOT with what you’re always comfortable with, but with what you’re COMPATIBLE with.

Serious allergic reaction to food can cause some people to be hospitalized. To be more secure during your travel, make sure you find a travel insurance that covers emergency hospitalization in the country you’re travelling.

We find the best travel insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

13Sep

Is C-section the way to go?

In this day and age, Hong Kong stands strong in offering a lot more than tourist attractions and sparkling history. On par with many first-class countries, it prides itself with an excellent healthcare system. For both its residents and expats alike, it has become the place of choice for maternity and childbirth, owing to the structure in its services.

The Hong Kong health system, like many others, is categorized into two: the public and private sectors.

Being a Hong Kong resident with an “identity card” provides you with numerous benefits, including full utilization of their public health system.

Some say that it gets trickier and more complicated when it comes to foreigners, but there’s always no reason to feel lost and left out. Local or not, there’s nothing a good preparation can’t solve.

Adjusting to a childbirth in a foreign country is the first step. As mothers near their delivery, the next logical step is to figure out whether a C-section or classic delivery setup is the way to go.

Crunching the hard digits

In general, the World Health Organization suggests a 10-15% rate in C-section deliveries vis-à-vis a country’s healthcare status.  Since last year, numbers of C-section deliveries have been steadily increasing around the world. Currently, the Dominican Republic holds the top spot with 56.4%. According to this October 2018 research, Hong Kong currently has a Caesarian birth rate of 35%. It stands toe-to-toe with other countries like Turkey and Brazil, who each report rates of over 45%.

The good versus the bad

It is the expectant mother’s choice as to how she wants to have her baby delivered. However, in some cases, it is the doctor’s call whether to perform the surgery or not, particularly when the necessity arises in the situation.

C section deliveries are beneficial for mothers who are unable to bear the stress of the labor process. It is also recommended if more than one baby will be delivered. The procedure helps minimize the risk of having the baby contract a disease from passing through the vaginal area.

However, it also offers a balanced number of downsides. Mothers who opted for the surgical process tend to stay longer in the hospital for recuperation. There is an increased risk of pain or infection following the surgery and soreness is almost guaranteed. Staggering levels of blood loss may also provide low levels of Hemoglobin.

The rates

As an invasive procedure, C-section deliveries generally cost way more than vaginal births. Rates within Hong Kong vary with different hospitals, ranging from standard HK$ 17,000 to pricey lengths such as HK$ 141, 000 for high-tier private hospitals. As of June 2018, for example, the fee for a C-section surgery in St. Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay starts at HK$ 18,000 versus their fee for a vaginal birth which starts at HK$ 15, 000.

Ultimately, the choice rests upon the mother’s shoulders. There may be slight differences between private or public hospital settings but one thing remains the same: This is Hong Kong, and both options carry a high standard when it comes to medical care.

Village Insurance Direct provides expats in Hong Kong with health insurance that covers maternity expenses. Contact us for more information.

11Aug

Rainy Season Diseases

Rain is associated with a throng of things, most of which are good.
So, naturally, the rainy season invigorates these good things such as: running in puddles, the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof that lulls you to sleep, coffees by the windowsill, and for the love-stricken, it’s the ultimate “cuddle weather”.

However, the rainy season brings more than the comfort hot cocoas and oversized sweatshirts.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but ‘this is also the season for “seasonal” diseases. The quotation marks are there because these diseases are technically always present, however, because the conditions are more favourable in the rainy season, the risk of acquiring them is higher.
Here’s a list of diseases that you need to look out for in the season that keeps on pouring…diseases:

1) Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne, fast-spreading, disease caused by the Flavivirus. It is one of the fastest-spreading diseases at present and, if left untreated, can lead to death.

In the Philippines, out of a total of 77,040 suspected cases, 328 deaths were reported in the first 20 weeks of 2019. Consequently, this makes it an urgent public concern. It is one of the most monitored diseases during the rainy season.

The cases of dengue increase during the rainy season because of the stagnant water that fills up make-shift or incidental “basins” such as pots or bottles which serve as a paradise for the virus-bearing mosquitoes. These areas act as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. If the area is unkempt or polluted, the happier the mosquitoes.

Further research for the cure for dengue is still underway, and definite
treatment for the diseases is still non-existent. The best way to handle a dengue patient is to bring them to a hospital for supportive care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages early detection, awareness, and preventive measures to fight the spread of the disease. These preventive measures include cleaning the mosquito breeding sites, using mosquito repellents, and nets.

Furthermore, vaccination is encouraged. Aside from dengue, other vector-borne diseases to look out for during the rainy season are Malaria and Yellow fever. However, the incidence of the two is lower than that of Dengue.

2) Leptospirosis

An indirect disease associated with heavy downpour is Leptospirosis which is a bacterial disease caused by the spirochete Leptospira. It can be carried by a variety of animals such as rodents, dogs, livestock, and wildlife however, the poster boy of the disease are sewer rats.

The disease can be acquired when broken skin, just like in cases of lacerations or open wounds, is exposed to water or soil contaminated by the infected animal’s bodily fluids (urine, blood, saliva, etc.). This can also be ingested in cases wherein the water lines in domestic homes are contaminated.

Places, where there is a poor sewage system or sanitation, are prone to flooding. When there’s rain, there’s a flood, and that murky water is a mixture of animal urine and faeces. Hence, people who trudge the flood, especially those with wounds on their legs and feet, are prone to developing the disease.

If untreated, Leptospirosis will cause serious illnesses such as kidney or liver failure, meningitis, difficulty breathing, and bleeding.

Unlike Dengue, antibiotic therapy can be done to fight the disease, but early
detection is vital to the treatment. It is also stressed that prevention can be done by avoiding contact with contaminated water and soil by using appropriate, protective clothing. Prevention of rodent infestation by keeping your area clean is also highly recommended.

Other diseases that we should be vigilant for in cases of flood include typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A.

If you’re travelling anywhere in Asia this rainy season, make sure you have the proper travel insurance cover to keep you protected from emergencies.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/exposure/hurricanes-leptospirosis.html

https://www.who.int/westernpacific/news/detail/11-06-2019-dengue-increase-likely-
during-rainy-season-who-warns

https://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/ems/flood_cds/en/

30Jul

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