5Jan

Insurance Industry Outlook for 2021

What changes will the insurance industry undergo with the lessons learned from 2020? What transformations are to be expected?

Here are some of our insights:

The pandemic and ensuing economic fallout essentially shifted consumer and employee needs, practices, and expectations, while pushing digitization of insurer operations quite quickly. But while most of those in the industry adjusted, insurers are will likely face lingering challenges to growth and profitability this year.

A survey by Deloitte with 200 insurance providers reported that 48% of executives recognised that the pandemic proved how unprepared most providers were to endure this type of economic storm. The same survey also showed that only 25% out of the 200 strongly agreed their providers had “a clear vision and action plan to maintain operational and financial resilience” during the crisis.

The pandemic gravely resulted in a loss for the property-casualty bottom line. This is attributed to massive event cancellations and employee compensation claims.

Given the crisis’ impact on jobs, business transactions, and trade, global non-life premiums were flat for the entirety of 2020, including a 1% decline in advanced markets. [1] However, despite these roadblocks, the industry may yet recover to 3% growth in 2021, led by a possible 7% boost in emerging regions.[2]

Non-Life Insurance Are Forecasted to Recover in 2021

At a regional level, total insurance premium growth in advanced regions and China will be more positive than GDP, mostly driven by non-life insurance. This is mainly due to government support under the rural revitalisation strategy and rising risk awareness. The growth pullback in advanced markets will be less, but we anticipate the largest annual contraction of close to 1% in premium volumes terms throughout this year.

INTERESTING LEARNING: While it was assumed the pandemic might boost consumer awareness about the value of life and health insurance, a J.D. Power study discovered that was not the case. Despite the fatalities in the US with over 300,000 deaths, consumers did not seem any more motivated to get life insurance. This behaviour was due to a combination of scarce client communications and a continuing perception of high-cost and transaction complexity. [3]

Product developments will likely shake-up traditional offers. This is an opportunity for insurers to innovate based on emerging trends and needs.

New types of covers such as the launch of more parametric policies or “index-based insurance” (which pays out on the occurrence of an event rather than having to claim a specific insured property loss). This was observed as the top product development priority among North American and European providers and number three in APAC. The concept, which has already been growing in popularity in property-catastrophe insurance, might have use for future viral outbreaks.

Lloyd’s of London recently introduced a parametric business interruption policy for small- and medium-sized firms suffering IT disruptions.

WHAT CAN BE DONE BEYOND 2021?

Insurance providers must take steps to manage three key phases of the COVID-19 crisis

1. Respond
2. Recover
3. Thrive

When the pandemic hit, insurers reacted by taking critical steps to ensure business continuity and help clients and their communities cope. As we all head into 2021, insurers should consider a mix of offense and defense-based actions to hasten long-term recovery efforts and pivot to the thrive phase when growth is most needed.

References:

[1] Swiss Re Institute, “World insurance: Riding out the 2020 pandemic storm,” Sigma No. 4/2020, July 2020.

[2] https://www.deloitte.com/xe/en/insights/industry/financial-services/financial-services-industry-outlooks/insurance-industry-outlook.html

[3] BusinessWire, “Life insurance customer satisfaction flatlines despite pandemic fears, J.D. Power finds,” accessed November 4, 2020.

21Dec

Projected Changes in Hong Kong Healthcare in Relation to COVID-19

Several vaccines have been approved and it’s only a matter of time before it’s administered to Hong Kong residents.

The Hong Kong government plans to provide free coronavirus vaccines for all its residents as stated by Health Secretary Sophia Chan last December 2nd while the country experiences the 4th wave of infections.

Who will get it first?

Sec. Chan told the Legislative Council that vaccines will be administered first to three million volunteers who are considered most at-risk or vulnerable– which includes public medical workers, patients with chronic diseases and the elderly.

One important note to remember is that Hong Kong residents will have to regularly receive COVID-19 vaccines annually which means the healthcare system will have to adjust to this demand. Here are the changes we think we could see next year:

  1. Fast-tracked Healthcare Reform

China has been revamping its health system since 1996 but the outbreak slowed down their target of reaching the deadline this year. However, plans and pivots have been made as the virus wanes and vaccines are approved

Fast reforms are expected to be implemented in areas such as:

– Strengthening of the primary care system and integration with public health crisis management system

– Sustainability and affordability of social medical insurance funds that involves price control through national acquirement and negotiation on medicines, devices and high-value consumables.

– Public hospital reform with the objective to increase efficiency

– Increase in salary and compensation packages for hospital healthcare staff

  1. Digitized Health Insurance

Public hospitals were slow in providing online healthcare before Covid-19 but this will likely change in the coming year. With the potential new policy to incorporate online healthcare services into the social medical insurance payment system, public hospitals will be presented with incentives to allow more digital healthcare services to patients. This opens up plenty of opportunity for collaborations between public hospitals and internet companies that offer insurance online. Simultaneously, this will create new hurdles (as well as opportunities) for pharmaceutical and devices companies on marketing and sales strategies.

  1. More global insurance players will be let in the country

The healthcare insurance market will be further opened to international enterprises and constraints on new healthcare insurance products are expected to be progressively lifted. Expat families and individuals who are living in Hong Kong will have more options as a result.

Many insurance companies in Hong Kong have already launched healthcare cover innovations specifically for Covid-19 protection such as Pilot’s Income Protection Insurance and Hong Kong AXA’s enhanced coverage products. 

It’s worth looking at one’s current insurance plan to make the necessary changes to ensure that all bases are covered.

Need help finding business and personal insurance in Hong Kong? We assist expats find the best covers.

 

12Dec

Money-saving tips for new graduates

Ah, yes. Graduation.

Finally!

Independence!

Freedom!

The world is your oyster…if only you had the money.

Graduation creates this illusion of immortality for fresh graduates, especially for those belonging in Asian or other conservative families wherein they usually live with their parents or remain tethered financially until they hold a job of their own. So, the moment that the diploma is received, a surge of energy initiated by a newfound sovereignty course through their veins.

It makes sense though. You’re a youngblood with high hopes and dreams, you’re seeing the world beyond the books for the first time. You don’t have a curfew, homework, or a parent to answer to.

All of this rush of adrenaline doubles that moment you get employed because job equals money equals “add-to-cart”, right?

For a moment, there is harmony in your cash-ins and cash out. But at one point, maybe on the day when your employer can’t give your salary on time or when somebody gets sick, you’ll realize that you do not have a cent in the old piggy bank. Then, the reality of adulthood sets in. It’s time to decrease the “YOLO” and start saving.

Here are some tips money-saving (and maybe even earning) tips for all our fresh graduates out there:

1)   Invest

While having saved money in your account is good, placing them in good investment is better. Rather than letting them just stay in your account until your next impulsive buy, why not make them do the earning for you? Aside from insurance companies, some banks provide services on investments wherein you can start small, just enough for the entry-level salary.

2)   Wants and needs

Do you need another pair of shoes for work? My Economics professor once told the class, “If you can distinguish your wants from your needs, then saving is easier.” and that is financial wisdom I still hold today.

Needs which are your basic food and drinks, toiletries, clothes.

Wants are your 5-star meals with a bottle of champagne, Jeju face masks, and plain, white shirts that cost five digits.

Always reflect before you buy: “Need or want?”

3)   Allocate

Once you fully recognize your needs, you need to be very familiar with your cash flow and where to place them. It is important to list down the daily, weekly, and monthly expenses so setting a budget is easier.

4)    Something on the side

If you have an 8-hour job, especially one that keeps your weekends open, I would encourage having a sideline. Something non-committal, that you can do from the comfort of your home and that will take only a few hours of your time. It can be writing, copyreading, editing pictures, translating, even online tutorials.

There are such jobs out there.

Once you receive your pay, keep it safe. Don’t spend it. That’s your side hustle money.

When you’re a young investor, it doesn’t hurt to earn a bit more cash.

5)   Be wary of your circle

Friends and workmates are a great influence even in young adulthood and, sometimes, when one of them declares a night out or a trip to somewhere pricey, it’s difficult to say no.

There’s nothing wrong if your friends have more money than you, just as there’s nothing wrong if you have less money than your friends. But it’s important to remember at which part of the spectrum you are, and not get carried away. Also, be mature enough to not be insecure about the financial differences that you feel the need to spend money like them to achieve validation.

Learn to decline when it no longer hits your budget. If your friends are really good people, they’ll respect that.

6)   Splurge money

As contradicting as it is, it’s also important to spoil yourself every once in a while.

Have “splurge piggy bank” and invest a fixed portion of your savings to it.

It can be money for a concert happening in a few weeks or a monthly shopping spree/fancy dinner dates for yourself.

The point is, you have to spend money on you too. Sometimes, we impulse buy because we’ve been deprived for so long. So, it’s just better to just have a controlled source of cash for an “I deserve this” splurge. Just make sure that the “I deserve this” days aren’t every day.

7.) Get insurance early.

If you buy permanent life insurance early, this gives you a longer period of time to put money into the insurance plan and also allows you to draw interest on your money for a longer period of time. We help expats in Hong Kong find the best personal insurance. Get in touch with us today.

20Oct

5 Personal Insurance You Need Plus Pro-Tips Before You Buy

It’s impossible to eliminate all risks from a single insurance plan. However, layering your personal finances with a handful of essential covers immensely help with risks.

So what are the important insurance types you need to protect yourself and your family?

  1. HEALTH INSURANCE

There is a multitude of insurance plans to help you with the cost of healthcare. Health insurance takes care of hospital costs when you’re sick or in an accident. Most will acquire this type of insurance through an employer. Self-employed individuals will have to get this from the open market on their own.

Pro-tip on what to consider:

– Cost of premium
– The amount of deductible (out-of-pocket cost before the insurance comes in)
– Co-payment amount (the amount paid for a particular visit)
– Co-insurance (cost divided between you and the provider)
– Cap out-of-pocket cost (maximum cost before the insurance starts)

An important thing to remember when shopping for health insurance is that you should be aware of your anticipated health needs so that you can check if it’s part of the plan. So if you have a history of heart condition in the family or cancer is involved, be sure to find a plan that will assist with the cost of those specific conditions.

  1. LIFE INSURANCE

Life Insurance Tip from Village Insurance: How much life insurance do you need?

There are two main types of Life Insurance: 

(1) Permanent Life Insurance – covers your lifetime
(2) Term Life Insurance – covers a certain period of time (e.g. 30 years)

Pro-tips: Term Life Insurance is generally more cost-effective because it protects you for a period when you’re least likely to die. This is, of course, if you get the plan at an early age.

In terms of the cost (how much you need to have covered), Village Insurance will always advise clients to consider their annual income. So if you need to replace your entire income, then you will need 25x your annual salary which is understandably a substantial amount. A positive outlook while thinking of that amount is that your family can withdraw around 4% from that amount for as long as the insurance is in place. If you want to replace an amount that covers certain things such as the mortgage, then you’ll need less.

  1. DISABILITY INSURANCE

This insurance plan also comes in two variants:

(1) Short term – for medical emergencies that prevent you from working (e.g. having a baby)

(2) Long term – for events that inhibit you from making a living for months or years.

When do you need short term disability Insurance? Blog: Village Insurance Direct

Pro-Tips: Short-term disability becomes quite handy when your employer doesn’t offer paid maternity at work. To determine how much you need, make a budget plan for the amount you’ll need while you’re unable to work.

Also, keep in mind that long-term disability insurance has a 3-4 month waiting period before it begins replacing lost income. On top of running through a budget plan for how much you’ll need, check if your plan is subject to taxes as well as your condition’s impact on your social security disability income.

  1. DENTAL INSURANCE

Health insurance plans do not automatically cover dental. Dental care can be quite expensive especially in Hong Kong. Treatments beyond preventative procedures can cost thousands of dollars. Teeth implants and other restorative treatments are often overlooked but once they’re there, you’ll be glad to have dental insurance when you see the cost per visit.

Pro-tip: Get dental insurance before you actually need it, meaning, get it while you’re young. Premium will cost less. Also, like some insurance covers, there may be a waiting period for expensive treatments so add that into consideration when scheduling your appointment.

  1. HOMEOWNER’S/RENTER’S INSURANCE

How to choose renters insurance and home insurance. Pro tip from Village Insurance Direct

Homeowner’s insurance covers both the house and all its contents. On the other hand, renter’s insurance covers what’s inside the rented space. 

Renter’s Insurance is a must-have in Hong Kong. Some landlords may even ask for additional liability insurance from renters to cover the entire building in case of damage.

Pro-tip: There are plenty of reasonably priced renter’s policies in the market (some as low as $20 monthly). Village Insurance recommends getting this so you won’t have to worry about damages to the apartment that are beyond your control such as a fire. 

For homeowner’s insurance, check your policy if it covers the current value of the property or the replacement value. You may also look for a plan that has add-ons to cover the cost of high-value items inside the house (e.g. jewellery, computer equipment).

Again, layering your finances with different insurance policies to take care of anticipated needs is the best way to protect you and your family from extreme loss of income. 

Get in touch with us if you need help finding specific personal as well as business insurance while you’re staying in Hong Kong.

 

8Oct

Understanding Professional Indemnity Insurance with Examples

Let’s first define what professional indemnity (PI) insurance is.

This is a type of insurance cover that protects a company from incurring legal costs and expenses in their defence, as well as any damages or costs that may be awarded if they have been alleged to have rendered inadequate advice, services or designs that caused a client to lose profit.

It’s also often referred to as professional liability insurance.

In Hong Kong, it is compulsory for some businesses to take out liability or professional indemnity insurance before they can operate.

Here are some examples of professional indemnity insurance claims you may find useful:

Case Study 1

Government Statutory Board | 6 Staff members | HKD5.5M turnover

Background: 
A claim was made against the Insured by one of its former clients. The claim alleged that the Insured failed to protect the claimant’s medical conditions whilst acting for the claimant in court, resulting in the claimant’s identity being easily searched online and discriminated against.

Outcome:
The Insured appointed panel solicitors to assist with managing the dispute. The Insured incurred defence costs of HKD280,800 which were indemnified by the Policy.

Payment: HKD280,800

Case Study 2

Insurance Broker | 5 Staff Members | HKD3.9M turnover

Background: 
A claim was made against the Insured by their client, a recreation club. The client alleged that the Insured misrepresented that their Directors and Officers Policy would cover the club’s own rights which were, in fact, incorrect when a claim was presented to the insurer and was declined. The claimant further alleged that the Insured failed to exercise reasonable skill and care whilst advising and obtaining adequate insurance.

Outcome:
The Insured appointed panel solicitors to assist in defending the matter against them. The claim was settled at mediation. The Policy paid a total for settlement costs of HKD1,482,000 and defence costs of HKD351,000

Payment: HKD1,482,000 plus HKD351,000 in defence costs.

Case Study 3

Logistics Operator | 8 Staff Members | HKD1.95M turnover

Background: 
The Insured, a logistics operator, was storing vaccines in its Cold Room for their client. A claim was made against the Insured by their client alleging that there had been a fall in temperature in the Cold Room which was a result of a hardware malfunction, which damaged their products. The Insured notified Insurers for their Fire Policy as well as their PI Policy. The Insurers of the Fire Policy indemnified the Insured to the sum of HKD1,287,000 which was insufficient to meet the total replacement cost of the vaccines due to a global shortage in certain of those vaccines. One of the vaccine’s cost had increased from HKD29.02 to HKD519.87 per vial. The Claimant sought further damages of HKD1,950,000.

Outcome:
The Insured appointed panel solicitors to assist with managing the claim against them. The Policy was triggered and paid for defence costs of HKD117,000. The claim was settled at a mediation for HKD319,800 which was also indemnified by the Policy.

Payment: HKD319,800 plus HKD117,000 in defence costs

Need PI Insurance for your business in Hong Kong? We can help find the best insurance covers for expats.

15Sep

5 Common Excuses for Not Getting Cyber Liability Insurance

Increased online activity by businesses – from e-commerce to remote project management – requires an added layer of privacy security. Digital interactions with clients as well as between employees also means there is extensive sensitive data (e.g. addresses, credit card details, private messages, etc.) being shared and stored.

Businesses that ask for personal information places them in a position of possible liability should there be a breach in their system.

Cyber Liability and Data Protection Insurance is designed to safeguard online users from damage and loss upon exposure to hacking or system errors.

Unfortunately, most businesses do not see the need for this type of insurance for reasons such as:

1. My business does not store sensitive data.

Most businesses will hold information about their employees or suppliers as a standard practice, meaning these companies are at a higher risk of being targeted for a cyber attack. Downplaying the likelihood of having your valuable data stolen may cause irreparable damage to your company’s reputation and operations.

In a time when remote work and online interactions are the status quo, businesses need to have all bases covered.

2. I don’t sell anything online.

Chances are, your business still uses computers to store digital files of receipts, invoices, and names of customers. Having a local server and the absence of online commerce does not exclude your business from cybercrime.

One has to factor human error, malware, and phishing even if your company is not engaged with Internet commerce.

3. The Cloud is highly secure.

A company is legally responsible for the information that is stored in their cloud, even if a hacker accesses the cloud via a 3rd party. This also applies if you’re using an outsourced IT provider. If the provider’s system is breached and your data gets leaked, your business may incur notification costs (to both the Privacy Commissioner and the affected individuals), remediation costs and legal costs. Encryptions and 3rd party security measures will not cover these costs.

4. The IT Department will take care of it.

Does your IT department work round-the-clock? That’s highly unlikely. A lot can happen in a few minutes, let alone overnight when everyone is off.

Having cyber liability insurance in place will provide you with a 24/7 response team that can help mitigate further loss and damages when an attack occurs.

5. Our system is top-of-the-line and can’t be hacked.

There’s not a single system that is 100% secure. Technology is ever-changing and cyber attackers are constantly finding ways to access your data. And while you may have the most secure system now, that still requires everyone in the company to have the same knowledge and competencies in using, managing and maintaining it.

Again, human error can’t be discounted which makes cyber liability insurance all the more important for any business.

We can help your business find the best cyber liability insurance in Hong Kong.

5May

How cancer burns through everything including your savings

Cancer takes more than lives. It also goes after a hefty amount of your savings.

In just a span of two years, half of all US cancer patients breeze through their funds, accentuating a total of $92,000 in twelve months.

This is all detailed in a new study called “Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer” which was published this month. According to its findings, these heavy costs are mostly of risk to be shouldered by the elderly and those without insurance, among others.

Killer expenses

In the US, cancer comes second to heart disease as the undisputed title-holder of the most notorious killer.

But unlike heart disease which has a pool of research and funds dedicated to it, the cost of cancer treatment, for any country is financially unfathomable. Annually, 1.6 million new Americans are diagnosed with cancer. From this, 600,000 barely finish treatment and die.

The healthcare system credits to spending $87.8 billion yearly for patients. Specifically, unfinished treatments resulting in death leads to a $130 billion cost.

A huge portion of treatment expenditure still falls on the patient. The American Cancer Society along with the Cancer Action Network reports that as of four years ago, findings revealed that patients still shouldered a total of $4 billion on their end just for seeking cancer treatment.

Crunching beyond the numbers

The core of the study took 9.5 million patients and 16 years to see completion (1998-2014).

Setting aside the statistics, the medical study delineates the kinks that needed to be worked out when it comes to medical budget and productivity.

The journal is an updated study from the same set of authors from five years ago and is published in the American Journal of Medicine. Initially, in the study’s first findings, it revealed that cancer, specifically, breast cancer, accounts for 33 million sick days among the US working citizens annually.

The update to the study echoes a more heartbreaking revelation: half of the cancer-afflicted patients within their study have started and been easily sunk into bankruptcy due to treatment expenses.

This brings a new reality to the table: that the economy pulls a really tensioned string even to cancer patients who struggle with the cost of treatment.

When toxicity seeps to your finances

A big danger lies in the fact that the risk for financial toxicity goes greater with cancer treatment. After years of fluctuation in the economy, one would think that the financial burden on the patients would’ve lessened but has so far remained consistent.

Grant Skrepnek, one of the paper’s writers believes the results were “shocking,” seeing as to how figures have reached higher levels, which he has seen in his 20 years in cancer research.

Despite the advent of immunotherapy, which is pegged as a vital tool for the possible elimination of cancer, Skrepnek believes that it also has downsides, such as its ability to hamper predictions for cancer trends.

Jennifer Singleterry believes otherwise and sees a bigger threat in short-term healthcare plans.

Singleterry, a senior policy analyst from the American Cancer Society is concerned with the coverage of these health care plans, which have a limited coverage and “caps” – which hurts finances as it doesn’t include cancer treatment.

She adds that dependency to these short-term plans will only be harmful to those afflicted will illness, who will be left with even higher insurance premiums.

What this ultimately reveals is another layer of fear added to cancer: first the diagnosis, and now the financial horrors.

Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find critical illness insurance. Contact us for inquiries.

 

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.

29Nov

Prostate Cancer Information in Hong Kong

Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers affecting men. In Hong Kong, it’s the fifth most common cancer with over 1,600 new cases every year and is the 3rd most common type of cancer among men in Hong Kong.

2-11

The prostate is a gland that’s only found in men. It’s usually the size of a walnut, and is located below the bladder, surrounding the first part of the urethra, which allows urine to pass from the bladder to the penis. The prostate produces semen, a thick white fluid that mixes with the sperm produced by the testes. It also produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which turns the semen into liquid. Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer, typically occurring in men over the age of 50. Research shows that over a third of men over 50 have some cancer cells in the prostate, while almost all men over 80 have some cells. The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but generally the chance is increased if there is a positive family history; it is also more common in Western men.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • reduced flow of urine
  • increased frequency in urination
  • uncomforatble urination
  • persistent pain in lower back, hips and thighs
  • in some cases, bloody urine.

EXAMINATION

The diagnosis of prostate cancer may include a digital rectal examination (DRE) by a doctor. Digital here is different to the “digital” in electronic equipment. Apart from DRE, PSA can be tested in blood to detect the presence of prostate cancer. However, PSA alone is not very accurate in diagnosing cancer.

It is important to have one’s self examined once you hit 40. Village Insurance’s best practice for recommending covers for males is to find insurance that also covers diseases such as prostate cancer. Insurance can cover treatment and maintenance for cancer.

We can help find the best global insurance for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us for any inquiries. We’re always quick to revert.