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17 November 2020

Insuring your relocation risks

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With the current state of the world there is a lot of uncertainty in life at the present. Opportunities which once may have been available in Hong Kong are now presenting themselves elsewhere. As such, many individuals and families are considering relocating away from Hong Kong, even if they have been in the city for many, many years.

Moving an established household is no mean feat, and can be made even more difficult if you’re relocating with your domestic helper, pets, and having to deal with the immigration requirements at your destination on top of your logistical headache. There is a lot that can go wrong, even if you take all appropriate measures, because there will be so many risks that are simply out of your control.

From the possibility of a total loss due to a cargo mishap, to the possibility of your suffering a simple bodily injury, an international relocation is a complicated endeavor. Some of the individuals and families currently considering a move away from Hong Kong will have only recently arrived, and will be experienced hands at getting a relocation sorted out. However, some long-time residents are also starting to consider the possibility of a move away from their home, and in some cases these individuals may have been born in the city.

As such, CCW Global thought it was appropriate to once again look at the topic of relocations, and the various ways in which you can manage your risks and successfully accomplish you move overseas.

Home Insurance is a great place to start

If you have a Hong Kong home contents insurance policy then in terms of managing your relocation risks, you’re already off to a great start. Many home contents insurance options will allow for the coverage of your personal possessions on a worldwide all risks basis. This means that your items are protected against accidental loss, theft, or damage, anywhere in the world – for any reason unless otherwise specifically excluded in the policy documents.

You’ve probably taken advantage of this coverage feature while on holiday overseas, possibly without even knowing it. Should you have faced the loss of your laptop in Bali, for example, and you held a home contents insurance plan with a worldwide all risks coverage benefit, then you would have been able to replace your laptop via an insurance claim.

There are terms and conditions here, however, and we recently did a whole article on Home Contents Insurance. In relation to a relocation, the obvious shortfall is that you need a home for home contents cover – and without an address in Hong Kong your policy is, technically, void. Having said that, there may be ways around this.

For instance, some Hong Kong home contents insurance plans will actually allow you to cover the contents of your overseas properties under a local policy. So, for individuals and families privileged enough to have secondary properties or homes outside of Hong Kong relocating your possessions to that residence underneath your existing home contents cover is eminently feasible. The coverage is already in place, the plan will likely already be providing worldwide all risks benefits, and with a secondary residence you should be utilizing specified item protection.

In this case, it would be possible to sell or release the Hong Kong property which holds the insurance following your departure from the city, and take up a contents policy on your overseas property once you arrive at your destination. But how should individuals who do not have secondary residences outside of Hong Kong proceed?

Marine Cargo Insurance

If you don’t have a home outside of Hong Kong being covered under a local home contents insurance policy then the logical place to go in order to protect your belongings during a relocation is with a marine cargo insurance policy.

While marine cargo, or cargo throughput insurance plans can be purchased on a rolling basis to cover as many shipments as you may make during the course of any given policy year, for relocations you’ll be purchasing a one-off policy to cover your personal property as it travels from point A to point B. Marine cargo is important, as it is extremely unlikely that you will be transporting your entire household overseas by air simply due to the extortionate costs involved.

Transporting goods by ship is risky. There is a lot that can go in. In fact, maritime insurance products are highly complex policies that have extensive definitions of coverage protecting against myriad conditions and risks. From the natural acts of god that cause cargo to wash overboard, through to determining how salvage rights impact a claims situation, marine cargo insurance can be the difference between a total loss and being able to replace your belongings if they should go missing on route to your final destination.

When taking out a marine cargo insurance plan for your relocation you will have to list the items that will be loaded into the container and shipped overseas. The value of these items, the destination, and the method of transportation will all have an impact on the overall premium you can expect to pay for coverage.

But it is not just your belongings that have risk exposure during a relocation. You, as a person, also have a risk of sickness or bodily injury, especially in the age of Covid-19.

Don’t forget to protect yourself

Your possessions are not the only thing at risk during a relocation – you yourself are at risk of an accident, injury or illness any time you travel and if you’re traveling overseas there is the possibility that the health insurance you once held ion Hong Kong isn’t going to be able to give you the protection you need.

Single Trip and One-Way Travel Insurance

A really easy and convenient way to sort out your exposure to the many risks you’re going to see while traveling is, aptly, a travel insurance policy. From personal liability cover, to loss of personal belongings and healthcare expenses, travel insurance is a great way to ensure that you have (at least some) protection against the most common risks you will be exposed to in the course of your journey.

Travel insurance is purchased to cover the exact time you will be traveling. Both your departure and arrival days are counted as “trip days.” This is great as you get a significant amount of flexibility in the policy and in most cases, you have options which allow you to tailor travel insurance products to your exact coverage requirements.

If you are looking for a plan which only covers healthcare costs, those are available. If you want something with more umbrella benefits, those are also available. But, generally speaking, the levels of coverage on offer via a travel insurance policy are often lower than those associated with more targeted coverage solutions. This is important, especially considering that many countries (including the USA) are now mandating health insurance coverage levels for immigrants.

In these cases you must hold a certain level of health insurance cover in order to satisfy your immigrations requirements and be allowed into the country. In these cases, travel insurance won’t work.

International health insurance

While you may be more concerned about your belongings than your person when considering a relocation, as we’ve just mentioned many governments are not. In order to successfully relocate as a non-citizen to a country like the USA a person must have health insurance, and while the USA does overly complicate issues because of local insurance regulations, many countries with socialized healthcare system do not allow new arrivals to utilize those services on the same basis as residents.

As such, looking at your health insurance options could be vitally important before you depart Hong Kong, especially if you are not returning to your home country.

Health Insurance Continuation

If you were previously employed by a company offering employee health insurance coverage as part of a benefits package then you may have the ability to “continue” your insurance on a personal basis.

This is not available on all health insurance products and really depends on whether your employer had received a continuation option prior to your departing the company. This does mean, however, that you (and your loved ones) can continue to receive comprehensive health care coverage no matter what happens to you during your travels; as long as you continue to pay the premium.

Coverage Areas Matter

You will only be able to continue on your coverage with confidence should you be relocating to a country within the plan’s area of coverage. Many health insurance plans offered in Hong Kong will restrict coverage offered by the policy to healthcare treatment received solely in the city. Treatment received outside of Hong Kong cannot be claimed for under these plans.

This makes the utility of Hong Kong health insurance products extremely low in the event that you are relocating overseas. There are international health insurance options that can provide continuous uninterrupted cover outside of Hong Kong, but these will also normally have restrictions on coverage areas.

While international health insurance plans have the ability to provide worldwide coverage, coverage worldwide excluding north America or the USA, and continental specific coverage, you are not normally able to continue on your policy outside of the coverage area originally defined. This means that if you are considering relocating outside of your existing coverage area you may need to look at purchasing new health insurance protection if you want to ensure that you are still able to access quality healthcare should you need it.

International Relocations are Complicated

One truth about international relocations is that no two are ever going to be exactly the same. Everyone’s life is different, and everyone is going to be moving and traveling in different ways. If you stop off for a holiday prior to reaching your destination does that count as part of your travel? If you don’t want to take health insurance protection are you exposing yourself to a major risk?

The only way to answer these questions is to know more about your wants and needs. So if you are considering a relocation away from Hong Kong in the near future, or you just want to explore your health insurance options, Contact Us and arrange a risk-free, obligation-free, cost-free consultation with an expert CCW Global insurance broker today.

About Author

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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