The Ultimate Guide to Buying Insurance in Hong Kong

by | Dec 26, 2020 | 0 comments

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

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

First, we cover some of the most frequently bought insurance products in Hong Kong, specifically;

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

Next, we will provide some general tips about buying insurance products in Hong Kong. Tips we will cover include;

  • The importance of comparing insurance policies
  • Why using an insurance broker can save you money
  • The benefits of combining insurance policies

 

What are some of the most frequently bought insurance products in Hong Kong?

1. Health Insurance

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

Health insurance in Hong Kong is expensive. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive places in the world for health insurance coverage.

Fortunately, if you have a valid visa and an HK-ID card, you will be able to access Hong Kong’s high-quality public healthcare for free or at a meager cost.

The major downside to public healthcare in Hong Kong is the amount of time you may have to wait to get an appointment for non-urgent cases. Sometimes, you might have to wait for months before you can secure a doctor’s appointment.

When you finally get an appointment, you can then expect to spend considerable time queuing to see the doctor.  However, keep in mind that the quality of public healthcare in Hong Kong is excellent.

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.

Firstly, when buying health insurance in Hong Kong, one way to lower your health insurance costs is to get covered only for hospitalization.

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, chiropractic visits to a counseling session.

You can also try to 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.

You can save so much money by selecting the “Ward” room option because doctors in Hong Kong alter their fees depending on the type of room you are staying in.

 

2. Car Insurance

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

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.

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.

 

3. 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.

If you’re renting in Hong Kong, the only type of home insurance you will likely need is home contents insurance.

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. Some insurance providers in Hong Kong will charge you a hefty premium for your Home Contents Insurance if you live in an older building.

Some insurance companies might also charge you a higher premium if your apartment’s layout has been altered from its original state.

When purchasing home contents insurance in Hong Kong, be sure to ask about both these factors.

In our experience in Hong Kong,  we 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 for having an altered internal layout.

If you’re a homeowner in Hong Kong, you’ll likely need home contents and fire insurance.

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 first doing some homework. If you sign up in this manner, you could end up paying 2-3x more than what you should be paying.

 

4. 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.

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.

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 per 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.

 

What are some general tips when buying insurance in Hong Kong? 

1. The importance of comparing & understanding insurance policies

There are many insurance products available in Hong Kong, and there is a massive difference in pricing from policy to policy.  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. 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.

 

2. Seek help from an insurance broker in Hong Kong

When buying insurance in Hong Kong, we highly recommend you use an insurance broker. They will have strong product knowledge across all brands, and will be able to provide you with the best quotes.

Did our first tip above sound exhausting? If so, there’s no need to worry.

This is exactly why we recommend seeking advice from a professional 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.

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

Instead, we like Monica Yiu (monica.yiu@oreana.com, WhatsApp: 9192 6658) from Oreana Financial Services, who provides advice across many different insurance products.

 

3. You might be able to cancel your current insurance right now

If you’ve done a review of your insurance policies and realized that you want to make some changes, you may not have to wait until an insurance policy has expired.

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. 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.

 

4. Two-year insurance policies can be cheaper

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.

 

5. 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.

 

6. Be wary of insurance policies that offer the first year free

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.

 

FAQs

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 unknown or future conditions.

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

 

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). But on average, the cost of health insurance in Hong Kong for a single adult is approximately HK$50,000.

 

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.

If you’re trying to choose a health insurance plan, it’s important to understand which doctors’ network is allowed under each insurance policy.

 

Is it worth getting private health insurance?

You do not need to get private health insurance in Hong Kong. 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 you’re time-poor and want to be seen immediately by a doctor.

 

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.

If you’re a newbie to Hong Kong, you might be interested in our article about A Guide for Newbies in Hong Kong.

This article covers buying second-hand goods, tips for renting apartments in Hong Kong, and a guide on buying furniture in Hong Kong.

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