Guide to Buying Insurance – We Cover the 4 Most Popular Policies

by | Sep 2, 2021 | 0 comments

Wanting to buy insurance products in Hong Kong but feel overwhelmed by the choice, the price, and the paperwork required?

It can be difficult to know where to start when buying insurance products in Hong Kong. In this article, we share all we have learned from our time spent living in Hong Kong.

The most important tip when it comes to buying insurance in Hong Kong 

Our most important tip for buying insurance in Hong Kong is to use an insurance broker. Insurance brokers are so useful when you are trying to figure out which policy to purchase because they know all the different products available and will steer you in the right direction so that your personal needs are met.

Our favorite insurance broker is Litai Wai from Charings. It’s a small, independent insurance broker, and Litai is well-known for giving useful advice.

Ready to learn more about the most common insurance policies? In this article, we will cover:

  • Health insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Home insurance
  • Helper insurance

We’ll give you a summary of each type of insurance policy, a few tips you should know, and whether or not you’ll need it for life in Hong Kong.

The most frequently bought insurance products in Hong Kong

Health Insurance

Buying insurance in Hong Kong is super expensive, before you commit to it, consider if public healthcare is an option.

Summary:

What you should know:

  • If you’ve decided that you still want to go ahead and pay for private health insurance in Hong Kong, the cost of it may shock you. But there are some ways to cut down on the cost of health insurance in Hong Kong.
  • You can cut down the cost of health insurance in Hong Kong by selecting the “Ward” room option over the “Private” room option. By opting for the “Ward” room option, you might be able to save up to ~30-40% for your health insurance.
  • Tou might want to consider buying insurance for “hospitalization” only. This means if you see a doctor for a minor issue, you’ll need to cover the costs yourself, but for more major matters that require hospitalization, your costs will be partially covered by your insurance.
  • In contrast, more comprehensive health insurance policies might cover everything from maternity and chiropractic visits to counseling sessions.

Do you need to buy it in Hong Kong?

  • It depends on your personal situation. Yes, high-quality public healthcare is available in Hong Kong, but you might end up waiting a long time to get an appointment for non-urgent cases. 
  • Also, when you finally get an appointment, you can then expect to spend considerable time queuing to see the doctor.   

Car Insurance

Summary:

  • The minimum car insurance you’ll need for car ownership in Hong Kong is to purchase third-party insurance, which will provide you with basic protection against injury or damage to other people or other property.
  • You can also purchase comprehensive car insurance, which will give you third-party insurance and provide you with coverage for damage to your own car.

What you should know:

  • Don’t forget that your claims will impact the cost of your future insurance premiums and no-claim discounts, so if it’s something minor, you might want to consider paying out of your own pocket.

Do you need to buy it in Hong Kong?

  • Yes, when you buy a car in Hong Kong, you’ll need to have a valid third-party insurance certificate to obtain a vehicle registration license from the government. There’s no way around this.

Home Insurance

When it comes to buying insurance in Hong Kong for a home contents policy, the age of your apartment may matter, and it may matter if the layout of your apartment has changed. Be sure to check these details before committing to an insurance product.

Summary:

  • Home contents insurance, also known as renters insurance, is not compulsory for renters in Hong Kong. Still, it’s a policy worth considering as it will cover your personal belongings and household items for accidental loss or damage within the home.
  • If you are a frequent traveler, consider purchasing home contents insurance covering you on a global basis. This type of insurance can help cover items such as laptops, watches, and phones.
  • When it comes to home contents insurance, be sure to do your homework and find the right policy. For example, some insurance providers in Hong Kong will charge you a hefty premium for your Home Contents Insurance if you live in an older building or if your apartment’s layout has been altered from its original state.
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What you should know:

  • Our experience in Hong Kong found that Zurich Insurance tends to offer the best deal for household insurance as they won’t charge you more for living in an older building or having an altered internal layout.

Do you need to buy it in Hong Kong?

Helper Insurance 

In Hong Kong, helper insurance is mandatory. When buying insurance in Hong Kong, be sure to do the necessary research to see which product suits you best.

Summary:

  • Helper insurance not only provides your helper with health coverage, but you will get covered for liability as the employer.

What you should know:

  • Our favorite Helper Insurance is Allied World Maid Guard (Plan III). This insurance provides good coverage at a reasonable cost.
  • With this insurance plan, helpers will get their own medical card, see a doctor up to 25 times and receive three days of medicine (no need to pay, present the card). The insured helper will also receive a voucher to get the flu vaccination at a reduced price.

Do you need to buy it in Hong Kong?

  • Yes. Hong Kong law requires you to have valid insurance coverage for each helper. The good thing about many Helper Insurance policies is that you can move the coverage to a new helper if the policy is still current and has not expired.

FAQs about buying insurance in Hong Kong

How do I choose an insurance plan?

Compare the costs of multiple insurance plans, as well as the benefits. An insurance broker will be able to assist you with choosing an insurance plan.

How much is it to buy health insurance in Hong Kong?

The cost of health insurance in Hong Kong is mainly dependent on age and the type of room selected (i.e., general ward, semi-private room, or private room). On average, health insurance in Hong Kong for a single adult is approximately HK$50,000.

When should I buy health insurance?

The best time to buy health insurance is when you are young and healthy. This way, your health insurance policy will cover you for life and cover unknown or future conditions.

Problems associated with health insurance companies excluding “pre-existing conditions” are real in Hong Kong.

Is it worth getting private health insurance?

You may not need to get private health insurance in Hong Kong. This is because the quality of the public healthcare system is excellent, and any charges you will need to pay will be minor. The main con of the public health system in Hong Kong is the length of time you might need to wait to obtain appointments for non-emergencies.

Private health insurance in Hong Kong, on the other hand, is costly.

In summary, private health insurance in Hong Kong is generally worth it if you are comfortable with the cost and are time-poor, and want to be seen immediately by a doctor.

Can I combine insurance policies?

Check to see if you can reduce your insurance premiums by purchasing multiple policies from a single provider. For example, it is often cheaper to buy household contents insurance and fire insurance instead of purchasing these policies separately. Your insurance broker will be able to tell you all about this. Just remember to ask the question.

Can I cancel my insurance policy?

You can actually cancel many general insurance policies in Hong Kong before the policy period has ended and get part of your premium refunded. You can check with your insurance providers and see if cancelation and partial refund is possible.

For example, if you have a 12-month policy that permits cancellations and you want to cancel six months into the plan, you can expect roughly half your money back. Of course, this may change depending on the specific policy, so check the fine print before you cancel.

The key message here is that you shouldn’t wait until your insurance policy ends before moving to a cheaper policy.

Why should I buy insurance products through an insurance broker?

In Hong Kong, there are many different companies offering insurance products. They all have their own idiosyncrasies, and trying to understand each policy and then compare and contrast is a hugely time-consuming task.

Insurance brokers should be able to provide you with advice and insurance quotes across all brands. Once you have the information and have all the insurance quotes, the insurance broker can then help you to decide which products will suit you the best and how you can save money on your insurance policies.

Best of all, insurance brokers won’t charge you a fee, and the cost of your insurance premiums will not change by using an insurance broker. The insurance company will wear the cost of any commission fees paid to brokers.

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We don’t recommend insurance consultants who only cover specific (or a few) brands because of their inherent conflict of interest.

Why do I need to understand my insurance policy?

There are many insurance products available in Hong Kong, and there is a massive difference in pricing from policy to policy. So it’s worth taking the time to review all of your insurance policies and ensure you are getting the best deal.

Keep in mind; all insurance policies will differ.

Not all policies will provide the protection you need – or even the protection you think you’re buying. So be sure to read the fine print before signing up for an insurance policy. If you don’t fully understand what insurance product you’re buying, you might be in for a big shock when it comes time to file a claim.

Take the time to look at your insurance policies and do some research on all the products available. With some research, you should expect to be able to lower your premium costs.

Should I purchase a two-year insurance policy?

Some insurance policies will offer 2-year coverage (instead of a single year of coverage). If you can buy 2-year coverage, you will likely be able to lower your annual premium.

Importantly, you may still be able to cancel a 2-year policy part-way through the insurance policy.

Are insurance policies that offer the first year free any good?

Be wary of signing up for any insurance policy before first doing your research; this includes policies that came with the first year of coverage at no charge.

Insurance policies that come with “freebies” are generally the kind of insurance policies that you will end up being expensive. In such cases, the insurance company is often hoping that the offer of a free year of coverage will stop you from making any comparisons.

What is the best medical insurance in Hong Kong?

The best medical insurance policy will depend on your age, pre-existing conditions, and other factors, including if your work provides you with any type of medical insurance. To figure out which medical insurance policy will suit you best, we highly recommend you go and speak to an independent insurance broker who will be able to give you individual advice to meet your needs. We particularly like Litai from the boutique independent insurance broker Charings. Read our article, which talks in more detail about buying medical insurance via an insurance broker.

Which is the best domestic helper insurance in Hong Kong?

In terms of Helper Insurance, we particularly like Allied World Maid Guard (Plan III). This insurance policy provides decent coverage and isn’t overly expensive. Also, with this policy, your helper will be given her own medical card, which will allow her to see a doctor and receive medicine (up to certain limits) without having to pay. Another perk is that your helper will be given a voucher to allow her to receive the flu vaccination at lower than normal pricing.

What is renters insurance?

Renters insurance is more commonly referred to as “Home Insurance” in Hong Kong. This type of insurance policy will provide coverage for your household items.  

Which is the best health insurance broker?

Our favorite health insurance broker is Litai from Charings. We like this independent insurance broker because they cover a huge range of insurance brands and offered independent, tailored advice.

What do I need to know about fire insurance in Hong Kong?

Most banks that provide you with a mortgage in Hong Kong will require you to purchase Fire Insurance to secure a mortgage. Do not sign up for a Fire Insurance product that your bank offers you without doing some homework. If you sign up in this manner, you could end up paying 2-3x more than what you should be paying.

 

Finally

We are committed to helping people with advice on everyday living in Hong Kong. Our tips are intended to both save you money and improve the quality of your life.

We hope that you are now better prepared to start buying insurance in Hong Kong or perhaps undertake a huge insurance policy overhaul that has been sitting on your “to-do list.”

If we have missed any tips for buying insurance products in Hong Kong, please let us know in the comments below.

Check out our dedicated article if you want more information on buying medical insurance via an insurance broker.

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