Why More People are Choosing to Travel Alone

Traveling solo at least once in your life can be one of the most liberating and eye-opening experiences. The Internet has changed the culture of travel by becoming a platform for awareness of different exotic places as well as increased the urge to share our personal lives with friends and strangers. A large group of the expat community in Hong Kong live this kind of life and they would be the first people to attest to the value of exploring new territories on your own.

We are only young and strong once in our lives and getting invaluable life lessons by traveling is a chance we should take when it presents itself. So why are more people traveling solo?

1.       You have no one to worry about but yourself.

The comfort of having zero responsibility to anyone is a needed break from our busy work lives. This makes it easy for you to plan your journey and you have the freedom to make any change without a second thought. Do everything you want and nothing you don’t want.

2.        Experience real local life.

Traveling with other people does not often elicit a need to dive deeper into a country’s local culture because you already have people you can talk to and engage. However, being alone in an unfamiliar place pushes you to connect with your immediate community because these are the people you can possibly turn to in case you need help. You are also more uninhibited about impressions towards you because no one really knows you. Learn the language, break your routines, live a different life.Quote_imge_2,1

3.       Make new friends, or don’t.

Meet fellow expats and travelers or choose to be antisocial. It’s really all up to what you feel like doing. Hunt for hole-in-the-wall cafes and enjoy being with your own thoughts or go out at night and create a new network of interesting individuals at your own pace.

4.       It makes you more resourceful and confident.

Leaving your comfort zone increases your threshold. Hesitation is normal especially for anyone doing it for the first time but once you find yourself backpacking through the countryside or ordering your meal with broken local language, your self-assurance instantly gets a boost and you will discover things about yourself you have not yet realized. Most expats have said that after their first solo trip, they made sure that they would be able to do it again.

5.       The trip is more profound.

Whether you hated the place you visited or fell in love with the country and the people, the experience is an unforgettable one mainly because it’s solely yours. The satisfaction of checking off an item from your bucket list and having done so on your own is incomparable.

Make plans, break itineraries and gain more perspective from people and places. Try it at least once. And if you do decide to go for it, don’t forget to secure proper Travel Insurance for yourself. Get a Third Party Comprehensive Travel Insurance Plan to get covered for more risks—from loss baggage to repatriation in case of any medical emergencies. We can help.

Good luck and safe travels!


Financial Protection for Your Family After You’re Gone: Life Insurance

It’s not a topic most people are fond of. Death is a natural part of our lives which also involves strategic financial preparation. Getting Term Life insurance or Permanent Life Insurance also means arranging the best scenario for your spouse and children.

Suffering from a long illness causes a lot of strain on your family’s finances and after a member dies the remaining people are left with the burden of paying for the accumulated bills even during a time of grief.

Getting protection early is the best way to avoid subjecting your family to such tragic circumstances. Here are ways you can prepare and secure them financially.


Expecting the worst may not be the most pleasant means of preparation but it is the best. An extreme scenario would be falling ill for an extended period of time and failing to claim your insurance or perhaps not being covered at all. Calculate how much long-term care would cost including associated bills.

Term Life Insurance can protect you and your beneficiaries within a set period usually up to 30 years. Your family receives the payout if you die before the policy ends. Some Term Life Insurance will cover critical illness expenses depending on the listed benefits.

Permanent Life Insurance will cover you indefinitely for as long as you are paying the premiums. This type of life insurance allows the holder to cancel the policy and cash out the premiums that have been paid at any time. Ask your insurance broker which type of life cover suits your needs.

Take cancer in a worst-case scenario. If it runs in your family then the probability of getting the disease will be higher. The cost of eight weeks of chemotherapy in Hong Kong can range from HK$100 to $30,000. Cost of cancer chemotherapy also depends on other factors such as choice of drugs as well as frequency and duration of treatment. Hospital charges further add to the cost of the prescribed drugs. It is easy to imagine how your savings can get depleted without an insurance policy to cover part of the expenses. There are a  number of life insurance policies that cover critical or terminal illness. These plans cover treatments and a few prescription drugs. Talk to your insurance broker as these details may vary.


Add the inability to pay for funeral costs to your worst case scenario. There are other means of paying for this type of expense such as a separate funeral plan but if this is not the case a life insurance policy will be able to cover the fees if it is included in the benefits. Term Life Insurance policies often add funeral costs. Expenses for a funeral require payment for a funeral director, storage of the body, a coffin, cremation (if preferred), funeral car and more.

The average cost of a funeral in Hong Kong is  HK$7,775, cemetery costs excluded. A grave space, a grave marker and opening & closing the grave can easily cost another HK$1,500 to $2,500. A traditional funeral and burial can go as high as HK$9,000. Adding this amount to unpaid hospital bills is a burden no one would want to place on the people we leave behind which makes it all the more crucial to prepare.


The spouse is often the primary listed beneficiary but we advise adding your children if the policy allows for it. Again, expect the worse which may mean an unexpected event with your spouse shortly after you’re gone.

Be wise about who you list as your beneficiaries and choose a life cover that allows one or more listed recipients of the payout (if any).  Term and Permanent life insurance allow for this type of arrangement but the number of beneficiaries will vary.

Village Insurance will guide you through the process of preparing for the worst case so you can protect your family.

Contact us here for any questions you might have about Life Insurance.

Feel free to connect with Mark Bromhead on LinkedinFacebook and Twitter.




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.


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!

Do I Need Life Insurance After Retirement?

Retirement does not always equate to having financial stability. A few possible circumstances that leaves you in this kind of situation are:

Forced retirement

Failed investments

Providing financial support for an aging family member or children who are still living at home

If you find yourself in debt or  responsible for someone’s well-being, then the short answer to the question is, “YES” you need life insurance even after retirement.


It’s important to evaluate where you stand financially upon retirement. How much are your monthly expenses? Are there federal or state taxes that need to be paid? There are also things like probate costs, administration costs; there might be final debt or a mortgage on house, too. So as long as there is some type of financial exposure, you need life insurance to match up with that.


Yes. Of course, premiums will be higher which is why it’s advisable to get life insurance cover as early as your 20s or 30s. The greatest value of life insurance after retirement is that surviving family members or your spouse is left with financial security after the insurance holder’s death.


Other benefits is that you can use the sum to help you pay for medical expenses–this is if you feel that you will no longer need the death benefit. This is called the accelerated death benefit provision. You have the option of choosing permanent life insurance to have money safely tucked away with zero risks.

You may also need to think about getting health insurance since more seniors are prone to health complications–thus more spend on medical needs. Although Hong Kong has a wonderful healthcare system, retirement will most likely lead to more trips to the hospital and getting more prescription drugs to maintain your health.

Ask us about more details on life insurance or health insurance or email us at info@villageinsruancedirect.com.



What Insurance Do I Need Abroad?

Living a nomadic life can be an exciting one. The culture of traveling and living in a country other than your own is now more than just a trend but a life choice for many individuals and whole families.

On top of the usual preparations of finding a place to live, knowing where and how to reach the expat community and learning the culture of the country, you also need to make the necessary arrangements to prepare for the unexpected; health emergencies, financial fallbacks and other similar concerns.

The key feature of a good insurance for expats is mobility. Your insurance needs to follow you wherever you are. The second feature of a good expat insurance is that the benefits cover you and your family regardless if you are in the same country or not. And while it is seen as an added expense, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs because being far away from your country and the usual advantages that are given to its citizens may not be the same for every place.

Must-Have Personal Insurance


As an expat in Hong Kong, the number one type of personal protection we recommend is proper health insurance. Public healthcare in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world, however, it may not guarantee immediate and full care if you’re also waiting in line with many others who are also subscribing to public hospitals.

We wrote about the medical charges to expect in Hong Kong and compared the costs and benefits between private and public hospitals. This can give you a general idea of why you need private health insurance in case of emergencies.Remember that  the costs of even minor or routine medical treatment can quickly mount up. A benefit you must make sure is included is transport to a specialist unit and repatriation. You can lower your premium by opting to pay for any excess.

Critical Illness Insurance is also something for expats to consider if they are prone to serious ailments like cancer, heart attacks and other related diseases. Benefits of this policy will pay for therapy, drugs and other maintaining treatments. Some insurance policies may even cover death which means your families are left with a lump sum to pay for medical bills left behind.

We can help you find the right expat health insurance.


This type of insurance can either be offered as a benefit along with your employment or you may choose to get one for yourself. This insurance ensures you have a monthly source of income in case you get into an accident or become gravely ill that you aren’t able to work for a period of time. We’ve also created an infographic showing How Income Protection Insurance Works. More importantly, this insurance takes care of your family when you temporarily cannot do so. We strongly recommend this to expats with children. Get in touch with us if you’re interested to see what options are available in Hong Kong.


There are a number of good, affordable international life insurance policies for expats. This is usually a combination of two or more benefits such as critical illness plus total and permanent disability. It’s best to buy life insurance while you’re young because premiums are a lot cheaper. You can pay as little as US$33 a month and be covered for 20 years. We can also help find an insurance that suits your lifestyle and budget.

Remember that you need an insurance policy that is able to change as your circumstances change. Cost of premiums is also a crucial factor to consider so take your time when shopping for a provider. Evaluate your needs and determine your plans on a yearly perspective to see any drastic changes.


Hong Kong Should Prepare for Inevitable Zika Virus Arrival

The virus that so far has only been affecting some countries in South America is now expected to infect Asia soon, experts say. Hong Kong in particular is already warned to make the necessary preparations in anticipation of the Zika virus.

According to South China Morning Post, both the mosquito species that transmit Zika virus can be found in Asia. Hong Kong’s increasing warmth and intensifying rainfalls per year also make the city a hotspot for mosquitos to breed.

This was how the virus spread on a global scale.
zika virus
Previous findings about the virus explained that it posed no big threat to the health of an infected person (symptoms, if any, include a rash and fever), except that if a person is pregnant during infection then her baby may develop microcephaly, a condition in which the baby’s brain is smaller than normal. Now, reports have surfaced linking the virus to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that causes progressive paralysis and eventually death.

But what worries health officials the most is the fact that a majority of those infected with Zika show no symptoms at all, making it almost impossible to detect early on. Current tests for diagnosis are slow and expensive but scientists in Brazil are presently working to create an affordable and effective new test.

In the meantime, Hong Kong’s public health sector urges its citizens to follow certain protocols to avoid the spread of infection. For example, if one has recently travelled to Zika-positive countries, he or she is not allowed to donate blood nor have sexual intercourse without a condom for 28 days. One must also continue to wear mosquito repellent for 14 days after visiting affected areas. It is now also required by law to report any cases of the disease within the city to the Department of Health.

Hong Kong’s public health system is also currently having difficulty dealing with a surge in flu patients. However, health officials say that should there be a Zika virus outbreak in the city, they are confident that only a small portion of those infected would require hospitalisation. That is why it is more important than ever to take heed of the precautionary measures one needs to take in order to avoid being infected, especially since the consequences can be quite serious.

In anticipation of a crisis, it’s always best to be prepared. Make sure that you and your family’s health insurance situations are taken care of and that in the event of severe complications from the Zika virus, your and your family’s medical care will be covered.

We help find the best International Health Insurance for expats in Hong Kong. These insurance plan cover emergency repatriation, hospitalization and more. Get in touch with us for inquiries.



Preparing for the Cost of Cancer Treatments

The physical, mental and financial strains that come along with cancer are things no one should ever have to go through but with this disease affecting more and more people each year worldwide, we need to be always prepare ourselves and our loved ones if the worst happens.

This is especially crucial for families with members who have had cancer in one form or another. These are tips on how you can better cope with the costs of treatments so that you and your family have less to worry feel anxious about.

Recent Cancer Statistics

The most common type of cancer for male Hong Kongers is lung cancer with 2,994 cases registered in 2015. Females on the other hand deal with breast cancer the most with 3,524 new cases listed last year.
hongkong cancer 800x800

This statistics holds true for Brits with lung and breast cancer affecting the same demographic. 50,750 cases of breast cancer have been recorded since 2012 until 2015 and 24,005 reported cases for male individuals diagnosed with lung cancer for the same time frame.
UK 800x800Lung cancer tops the list as of 2015, according to World Cancer Research International with 7.4 million male cases and 6.7 million for women. This number is expected to increase to 24 million by 2035.
worldwide 800x800

Planning Costs for Cancer Treatment

Each type of cancer has a different treatment. It also depends on the progress of the disease. You can read about the different types of treatment options from cancer.org.

Your oncologist will be the best person to tell you what to expect during treatment and will be the first person to ask about the cost of treatments which is why the first step to planning is knowing as much as you can about your ailment and the treatments needed.

Cancer patients will most likely have to prepare costs for:

  • Provider visits
  • Lab tests (blood tests, urine tests, and more, which are usually billed separately)
  • Clinic visits
  • Procedures (for diagnosis or treatment, which can include room charges, equipment, different doctors, and more)
  • Imaging tests (like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, which may mean separate bills for radiologist fees, equipment, and any medicines used for the test)
  • Radiation treatments (implants, external radiation, or both)
  • Drug costs (inpatient, outpatient, prescription, non-prescription, and procedure-related)
  • Hospital stays (which can include many types of costs such as drugs, tests, and procedures as well as nursing care, doctor visits, and consults with specialists)
  • Surgery (surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathologist, operating room fees, equipment, medicines, and more)
  • Home care (can include equipment, drugs, visits from specially trained nurses, and more)

Some key questions to ask about :

  • How much is the estimated cost of treatment?
  • Will my health insurance cover it?
  • Where will I get treatment? In your clinic, hospital, at home?
  • What about medication? How much will they cost?

Having health insurance greatly decreases your out-of-pocket costs and should be able to cover a majority of your expenses.  Know the in-network doctors within your policy so you can also ask about out-of-network physicians in case it’s necessary. Talk to your insurance provider about the details of what they can cover so you may plan accordingly.

We at Village Insurance Direct help expats in Hong Kong find the best health insurance policies to cover these types of needs.



Securing Your Retirement with Life Insurance

Life Insurance is a product that aims to solve many financial problems. Premature death or accident is the primary reason for purchasing it. You can also have a Permanent Life Insurance policy to replace a pension if anything should happen to you.

During a person’s “family years, Term Life Insurance becomes a more preferred type of policy to secure finances in circumstances where one might not be able to provide for the children.

While insurance is not the go-to plan to fund retirement, a policyholder may still choose to take advantage of it to supplement their funds on top of their other savings and investments. The features of Permanent Life Insurance in particular allow you to better plan your retirement through “cash value.”blog_-_body_0


Expat Guide: Moving Your Family to Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the top global cities with a big expat community. It is a great destination for expats with families because it has low crime rate, excellent schools and good career opportunities. Despite being one of the most expensive cities to live in it still can be rewarding for individuals and for families because of the unique experiences in the country.  Moving your entire family to Hong Kong can seem daunting but if you plan your relocation early, the transition should be an easy one.

This is a checklist for expats who are planning to bring their families to Hong Kong.  These information should ease you into your transition into the country.

Permanent Residence and Dependent Visa

The person who has the initial intent of moving to Hong Kong needs to obtain a long-term visa or permanent residence for themselves first before applying for a Dependent Visa for their spouse and children under 18. For long-term partners you have the option of applying for Prolonged Visitor visa but you must present proof that you have been in a relationship for over 12 months. It is important to note that visa approval  may not come at the same time for each family member so plan your time accordingly. You can use the Hong Kong Immigration Department site for more information.

Schools and Nursery

The school year is from September to July. Hong Kong is known for having good schools and expats generally choose international schools for their children. The average citizen spends a total of 16 years for their education and the adult literacy rate is 93.5%.There are also public schools that have English-based curriculums. Do your research if you plan on enrolling your kids to these public schools as there may be some false advertisement that claim they teach in English but instead conduct the majority of courses in Cantonese. It is also normal to see private tutors for students because of the competitive nature of Hong Kong schools. Extra curricular learning is also highly encouraged among children so expect offers for music and art lessons from tutoring schools. This means you will have many options for weekend activities for the children. You can use this Hong Kong Search Tool for schools in Hong Kong.

There are plenty of nursery and childcare facilities around the city. The best thing to do when looking for child care arrangements is to compare school reviews and get recommendations from fellow expats. The annual cost for kindergarten and nursery school can range from HK$10,000 to HK$100,000. Feedback from first hand experience is crucial. There are plenty of forum sites such as AsiaXpat orExpat Forum you can turn to for answers.

One final note is that there are long waiting lists for good schools so have multiple options when applying.

Domestic Helpers

Hiring helpers is a norm for Hong Kongers and many expats adapt to this culture. We’ve written a separate blog about the ins and outs of hiring and choosing domestic helpers.

Finding a Place

We’ve also written a blog on expat-recommended areas throughout Hong Kong along with the average cost of rent. You can read the blog here: Expat Guide: Finding a Place in Hong Kong. However, we also recommended going into the forums for more in depth suggestions.

Insurance for the Family

Living in the city is expensive the cost of medical fees and property will continue to soar. While the country offers world-class health care even in public hospitals, what you need to be prepared for are emergencies. Waiting in a public hospital emergency room could mean not having the immediate medical attention you need especially for your children. We recommend that you get a family insurance policy to take care of your worries in such cases.

We can help find flexible, full coverage insurance policies for expats. You can contact Village Insurance Direct here.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on our products, Hong Kong news and expat guides.