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Be Aware of Insurance Scams in a Covid-19 World

Published on: 26 May 2020 by Michael Lamb

The Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic is scary. Even with life starting to return to normal there is still a large amount of fear and uncertainty about the ongoing situation and the “new normal” posed by the future.

Fundamentally life altering events like the Coronavirus generally spur a demand for insurance as people look to protect themselves from the risks of their new reality. However, with any increase in demand for a product comes the opportunity for unscrupulous actors to take advantage of consumers.

At this time, it is important to be aware of a number of scams or fraud which are present in the market and which could have an impact on or be caused by an insurance policy. With that in mind, here are some of the top scams currently doing the rounds in relation to Covid-19, your insurance, and even the government.

Vaccine and Treatment Scams

What Is It?

With the Coronavirus still killing people around the world a cure or vaccine to prevent the disease is obviously at the top of many people’s wish lists. However, a practical vaccine is still, at least, many months away.

That hasn’t stopped scammers targeting people with claims of Covid-19 Coronavirus vaccine for sale, or selling miracle cures that may be worse than the actual disease. While medicine and treatment scams are actually fairly common (in 2015 Interpol seized over 20 million illegal and counterfeit medicines), in the current crisis the level of activity in relation to these crimes has risen significantly.

How do I avoid becoming victim to a Covid-19 vaccine scam?

The best way to avoid this type of scam is to be alert for any emails claiming to be from the CDC, WHO, or other experts purporting to have important information about the virus or are able to include you in any vaccine trials. Additionally, ignore any adverts or amazing offers that may include a Covid-19 vaccine or cure as these are likely not official.

Using common sense for Vaccine and Treatment scams is the best way to deal with this type of threat. Being skeptical of any unsolicited WhatsApp or Text Messages that have to do with the Coronavirus is absolutely necessary, and avoid giving out any personal information until you have done your due diligence and confirmed the identity of the entity in communication with you.

Coronavirus Insurance Scams

What Is It?

The Covid-19 Coronavirus is a major health concern – hundreds of thousands of people are dying, and many millions are requiring intensive medical care in hospitals worldwide. It then follows that criminals and nefarious individuals are taking advantage of this and offering fake Coronavirus Health Insurance coverage.

There are actually more than a few insurance scams which have surfaced because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Some of the more common include:

  • Low cost Covid-19 or Coronavirus health insurance, with promises of full cover at rock bottom prices. Usually the scammer pretends to be from a reputable mainstream company. The victim is asked to call a number that will connect them with the scammer or click a link that will load malware onto their computer.
  • Fake agents attempting to sell you coverage in relation to the Coronavirus. They will normally contact you via cold call, or approach at-risk-populations (like the elderly) directly.
  • There have been many reports of “cancellation” scams. The scammer will claim that a loved one or relative is in the hospital because of the virus, and will say that their health insurance has been cancelled. You are able to “re-instate” coverage immediately and pay the scammer over the phone.

These are just a few of the many examples of the Covid-19 Coronavirus Insurance scams that are currently circulating worldwide.

How do I avoid becoming victim to a Covid-19 insurance scam?

The easiest way to avoid a Covid-19 Coronavirus insurance scam is to use common sense; avoid giving your personal details out to any unknown or unconfirmed individuals or callers.

In Hong Kong all insurance intermediaries and underwriters must be licensed to conduct business through the Insurance Authority. It is a requirement of the Insurance Authority regulations that all licensed insurance professionals display their licensing details on their website, business cards, and emails.

For example, displayed at the bottom of every page on this website is the CCW Global Insurance Broker Company License: No.: FB1643. On the Insurance Authority Website you are able to search for and look up the details of our company and see that CCW Global is a fully licensed and admitted insurance broker in Hong Kong. You are also able to identify all our brokers through the same system and confirm that each of our brokers does, in fact, work for CCW Global – we are happy to give you all our identifying information and licensing status whenever asked.

If an individual is trying to sell you insurance but does not have a website, is unwilling to give you their Insurance Authority licensing details, or the licensing details you received cannot be found on the Insurance Authority website, it is likely that you are dealing with a scam and should not proceed with your dealings with the entity concerned any further.

In addition to this, Hong Kong Health Insurance and International Health Insurance products offered by CCW Global are run on an annual basis and will generally not be cancelled mid-year with the exception of failure to pay premiums or the discovery of a previously undisclosed pre-existing medical condition which was being covered by the plan.

In both these cases the insurer will contact the policyholder via email, formal mail, and through the designated broker (who will also typically send emails and registered mail). The contact stating your policy will not be an unknown third party, and will not come without warning. The policy will generally not be cancelled out of the blue while a beneficiary is in the hospital receiving medical treatment.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your insurance in relation to the Covid-19 Coronavirus or would like to confirm your policy status, contact your broker or insurance company directly. Do not rely on inbound calls to give you status updates at this time, because it is likely that this may be a scam.

Covid-19 Stimulus Scams

What Is It?

Many countries around the world are providing stimulus packages to their residents and citizens to help deal with the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, in which Hong Kong is included.

Depending on your nationality your may be more at risk for this type of scam than other people; Americans, for example, are being particularly targeted at the moment due to the recent cash payment all taxpayers received. Fake phone calls, phishing schemes, and even social engineering attempts are all ways which scammers are going to try and get stimulus money from businesses and individuals.

How do I avoid becoming victim to a Covid-19 Stimulus scam?

Most governments will not contact you regarding your stimulus, they will simply mail you a cheque, credit your tax contribution, or put the money directly in a bank account. They will not require you to pay a fee to receive your money, nor will they email or call you to discuss your payment particulars.

Do not speak to anyone you do not know personally about your stimulus situation, and never provide your bank information or identifying details to any unknown person over the phone.

Free Hong Kong Insurance Consultations

For more information about the various insurance scams you may face in light of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, how to avoid these scams, or any other Hong Kong Insurance concerns you may have, please Contact Us to arrange a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with an expert Hong Kong Insurance broker today.



Author: Michael Lamb

Michael Lamb is an insurance industry professional with many years of experience within the Hong Kong Insurance market. Focusing on APAC coverage issues, Michael is able to provide extensive analysis and insight to a range of pressing topics. Previously, Michael provided insurance broker Globalsurance.com with their most highly valued articles and was a key influence in the development of all the content on Pacificprime.com, Michael has a passion for insurance matched by few others in the region.

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