China to make pollution insurance mandatory for eight polluting industries

China to make pollution insurance mandatory for eight polluting industries

On 9 June, 2017, China unveiled a draft regulation for public feedback, which requires polluting industries to have pollution insurance (or in full: environmental pollution liability insurance).

According to the draft guideline, jointly released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), companies in eight sectors – including:

  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Those involved in processing hazardous materials or chemicals (including radioactive waste) and,
  • Those involved in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients

will need to buy compulsory environmental pollution liability insurance.

This draft regulation is open for public feedback until July 10, 2017, and will need to be approved by the State Council, China’s cabinet. Read on to learn more about pollution insurance and the new draft guideline.

What is pollution insurance?

Originally introduced in industrialized countries in the 1960s, pollution insurance covers costs related to pollution, e.g. brownfield restoration and cleanup, and liability costs for pollution-related injuries and deaths. This type of insurance was originally introduced with these three main objectives:

  • Protect companies from bankruptcy by spreading the risks of environmental pollution
  • Compensate victims of pollution
  • Incentivize polluters to reduce and prevent environmental damage through lower premiums

At present, pollution insurance is applied in many countries to control environmental risks. That said, the implementation of this type of insurance is especially prevailing in developed countries like the US, and the UK.

Why it’s important to consider pollution insurance

Not having an environmental pollution liability insurance policy in place can leave your business vulnerable to a myriad of pollution liability and environmental risks. Aside from the impending rules, it’s important that you consider securing a comprehensive pollution insurance policy for your business to ensure you have the right protection to address all pollution-related risks.

Key coverage elements

When buying an environmental pollution liability insurance policy from Pacific Prime China, you can expect the following main policy coverage elements:

  • Accidental damage to the environment
  • Bodily injury or death
  • Financial loss due to the investigation, examination, cleanup and control costs of environmental damage
  • Litigation from other businesses or persons
  • Liability coverage against financial losses incurred from lawsuits

For more comprehensive protection, businesses can also opt for additional coverage elements, such as:

  • Costs incurred from being sued for mental and emotional damage due to pollution
  • Extend coverage to surrounding areas by up to X km (to be defined by either the business or insurer based on needs)
  • Liability caused by natural disasters (excluding earthquakes and tsunami)
  • Costs associated with cleaning the insured site

New mandatory pollution insurance requirements

The new guideline regulation by the MEP and CIRC requires environmental pollution liability insurance to cover bodily injury or death, property damage and environmental impairments, as well as emergency treatment and clean up costs. Insurers will be exempt from covering damages caused by natural disasters, environmental pollution crimes, illegal discharging of pollutants, as well as unaddressed environmental safety hazards.

Companies that fall under the eight sectors who fail to buy mandatory pollution insurance could face hefty fines starting at RMB 30,000. The guideline also requires insurance companies to issue an environmental risk assessment report before signing insurance contracts. This new implementation plan comes at a time when the Chinese government is looking to step up their efforts in fighting pollution nationwide, amidst ever-increasing pollution-related costs of up to 3% of the country’s GDP each year.

The need for environmental pollution liability insurance in China

Since 1980, China has experienced a rapid economic growth with an average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase of over 9.8 percent. During the same time period, there has also been a rapid increase in environmental management problems and environmental pollution accidents, caused primarily by the inadequate control of pollutants. As a result, China is now home to 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. In 2012 (the latest figure available), China lost RMB 1.2 trillion due to environmental pollution.

To solve the nation’s pollution problem, China has been searching for different ways to better manage the environment, including the introduction of environmental subsidies, emission trading, and most recently pollution insurance. The Chinese government first introduced the idea of environmental pollution liability insurance in 2006, and launched pilot projects covering a number of sectors such as heavy industry, and heavy metals. According to Wang Guojun, an insurance professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, the pilot projects, which required businesses to buy pollution liability insurance in some regions from 2013 onwards, have yielded positive results.

The 2015 Environmental Protection Law

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Law came into effect, and has a clause stating that businesses are “encouraged by the state” to have pollution liability insurance. Despite this, many businesses are arguing that there’s no legal mandate to impose such policies. The renewed push in 2017 for pollution liability insurance shows enhanced realization among key policymakers for the pressing need to protect the environment instead of solely prioritizing economic growth.

Looking for the ideal environmental risk management solution for your business? To learn more, be sure to get in touch with the experienced advisors at Pacific Prime China. Our team of experts are on hand to provide their unbiased advice on finding the best plan for your needs, as well as give you a free quote.


Posted by Jess in Health Insurance
An expat’s guide to medical emergencies in China

An expat’s guide to medical emergencies in China

From car accidents to severe food poisoning and heart attacks, medical emergencies can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. As an expat, it’s important that you are aware of how medical emergencies are dealt with in China, and how to prepare yourself in case you come across any unforeseen events. To help, we’ve created this informative guide containing key tips on preparing for and dealing with medical emergencies in the middle kingdom.

Know your hospital

It’s always important to know where your nearest hospital is located, and whether they provide accident and emergency services.

Public hospitals

Public hospital treatment in China is very affordable, but the quality of care, service levels and cleanliness standards can vary significantly. Expats who wish to utilize the public system should be aware that you should be able to communicate in Mandarin, as most of the staff will not be able to speak English.

VIP clinics

Big Chinese public hospitals like Zhongshan in Shanghai have VIP clinics (gaogan bingfang). Most VIP clinics will have English speaking doctors, offer more privacy compared to public hospitals, and will recognize many insurance companies. That being said, prices are much higher in VIP wings, e.g. staying in a VIP room will set you back by RMB 800+, whereas staying overnight at a “common” room would cost only RMB 15 to 20.

Please keep in mind that a lot of urgent VIP clinics may only operate during regular working hours, so you may end up in the local emergency room if you require emergency medical attention outside of these hours.

Foreign-run hospitals

Foreign-run hospitals are generally the most expensive option, as they offer a very high quality of medical care, comfortable rooms, and are often equipped with better technology. Medical staff in these hospitals are able to speak English and sometimes can also speak a range of other foreign languages. However, for medical emergencies you should check beforehand whether the hospital has an emergency department, as not all foreign-run hospitals will have one. Also be sure to check whether the ER runs on a 24-hour basis.

While the many perks offered by foreign-run hospitals are indeed attractive, the price tag can easily cost over ten times the price charged for the same procedure at a public hospital. For instance, an emergency surgical procedure can cost as much as RMB 50,000! With this in mind, relieving potential financial burden with a comprehensive health insurance plan is essential.

The ambulance system

The number to call for an ambulance in China is “120”. Ambulances from public hospitals are often not equipped with comprehensive medical equipment, and the personnel as well as the 120 line operator will generally speak little to no English. Response times will vary, e.g. sometimes the ambulance will come in under 15 minutes and sometimes you may need to wait over an hour due to adverse traffic conditions. In many cases, taking a taxi, or asking a loved one or a friend to drive you to the hospital may be a better, faster alternative.

Bring someone with you

If possible, it’s a good idea to find a bilingual friend to accompany you to the hospital, especially if you’re going to a local facility, as they can help talk to the medical staff on your behalf. If you do choose to avail yourself of the ambulance system, they can also help you by communicating with ambulance personnel (e.g. requesting the ambulance to go to a particular hospital). What’s more, having someone there with you can really speed up the whole medical emergency process, especially if you’re in great pain and finding it very difficult to collect your own medication.

Bring cash

Most foreign-owned hospitals are equipped to bill international insurers directly, so many expats prefer to hold an international health insurance plan to make medical billing easy. In many public hospitals however, a direct payment may not be accepted. If you don’t have any cash on you, Triple A rated hospitals tend to have what’s called a “green lane” that treats the patient if the hospital’s director signs off on it – usually if you’re someone “important” or if they believe that you will be able to pay them back later. In lower tier hospitals (usually in smaller cities), they may reject you if you have no money on hand, even for medical emergencies. No green lanes here.

Medical emergencies and your health insurance

Understanding your health insurance policy is a very important aspect of preparing for medical emergencies in China. Know where the nearest emergency facilities are near your home, office, and your child’s school, and be sure to ascertain whether they will accept your insurance plan or not. Working with a broker and insurer who has a Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) code (like Pacific Prime China) will also help drastically decrease the chances of your insurance being rejected.

Looking to learn more about medical emergencies and your health insurance in China? Be sure to contact us today, and our experienced experts will be more than happy to offer impartial advice for your needs, as well as a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance
Brand new international student health insurance for Chinese students in the US

Brand new international student health insurance for Chinese students in the US

With over 300,000 Chinese students studying in US universities, Pacific Prime China is proud to announce that we now offer a brand new international student health insurance product designed specifically to meet the needs of this burgeoning market. If you or your child are going to the US for education, this plan could prove to be of great benefit.

Launched by AXA Tianping in May 2017, StudentCare Exclusive is the first health insurance product of its kind to be sold outside of the US. Leveraging the expertise of AXA’s specialist Global Healthcare team, AXA Tianping and a third-party partner, the brand new product provides unparalleled medical coverage for Chinese students overseas and can meet the international student health insurance waiver requirements of most US universities. Read on or contact us to learn more about the brand new StudentCare Exclusive plan by AXA, and the insurance requirements for Chinese students studying in US universities.

Key features of the new StudentCare Exclusive plan

The StudentCare Exclusive plan by AXA Tianping is customized specifically to meet the needs of Chinese students studying in US Universities, and offers comprehensive international student health insurance coverage both in the US and at home (i.e. in China). Thanks to its innovative digital customer experience, as well as its global direct billing network and service in the US, the plan truly goes above and beyond the expectations of the international Chinese student market. Students enrolled in this policy will benefit from these unique advantages of:

Meeting the waiver requirements of most US universities

A waiver is a request to opt-out of the institution’s SHIP (Sponsor Health Insurance Plan; the university’s group health insurance plan) in favor of an alternative health insurance plan that meets the school, college, or university’s requirements. Students enrolled under the wrong alternative insurance plan can be at risk of having their waiver denied by the university, at which point they will be required to re-purchase another plan. As the StudentCare Exclusive plan is designed specifically for the US, you can have peace of mind from knowing that it will meet the waiver requirements of most US universities.

Comprehensive coverage benefits

With the most optimized pricing offered at affordable and competitive premiums, policyholders of the StudentCare Exclusive plan are protected with unparalleled coverage benefits that are tailored specifically for Chinese students studying in the US. These benefits include:

  • Coverage of pre-existing conditions: All medical conditions that began before the plan’s start date are covered under this policy.
  • Coverage of preventative care services (e.g. tests, screenings, and standard immunizations)
  • Mental healthcare
  • Alcohol and drug related injuries
  • Coverage of expenses incurred from self-inflicted injuries and suicide
  • And more

What’s more, as an added bonus parents may also act as a policyholder of their child’s plan if they wish to access the health information of their child when they’re away from home.

First class medical network in and outside of the US

Students enrolled under this brand new international student health insurance plan get access to a first class medical network of healthcare providers in the US, and even outside of the US (i.e. when Chinese students are visiting home during the holidays). As this product is registered with the Chinese authorities, policyholders are also ensured comprehensive medical coverage under local jurisdiction.

Direct billing network & online enrollment

By simply presenting the StudentCare Exclusive membership card at the hospitals of AXA’s outstanding global network, policyholders can benefit from direct billing – meaning no more insurance paperwork or time spent waiting for reimbursements! When applying for this plan through us, we will also send you a convenient and easy-to-follow online enrollment link so that you can complete your application in minutes.

International student insurance requirements in the US

As of the time of writing this article, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty in regards to the prospects for medical care reform in the US Senate. One possibility is that the medical care reform could affect the minimum waiver requirements of universities, which will have a direct impact on the approval rate of alternative health insurance for international students studying in the US. As such, it’s essential that foreign students secure an alternative health insurance plan that can meet the university waiver requirements.

Contact Pacific Prime China today

Interested in applying for or learning more about the StudentCare Exclusive plan? Be sure to contact us today. With years of experience providing comprehensive health insurance solutions for international students pursuing their studies abroad, the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China are on hand to provide unbiased insurance advice based on your specific needs, as well as give you a free quote!

Posted by Jess in Health Insurance
3 tips for a successful employee wellness program in China

3 tips for a successful employee wellness program in China

Around the world, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for employee wellness benefits. With more and more corporations implementing value-added wellness benefits (e.g. smoking cessation programs) that go above and beyond standard medical insurance benefits, there has truly been a shift in the ways in which businesses are competing for and retaining top talent. But, why have corporate wellness programs become so popular? The advantages of adopting a wellness program at every company, no matter the size, demographic, or location are manifold.

Many companies with a wellness program in place are reaping the benefits of not only a healthier workforce, but also improved job satisfaction and overall productivity, a significant reduction in absenteeism, as well as the ability to save money on healthcare expenses. To illustrate this further, research cited by Forbes found that every USD 1 invested in employee wellness programs yields an average of USD 4 in savings as a result of reduced sick leave days, increased productivity and an overall decrease in healthcare costs. Today, we look at 3 top tips for implementing a successful corporate wellness program.

Employee wellness in China

Healthcare expenditure in China is hiking rapidly, with costs expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2020. With more and more middle and upper classes working in offices, long days and even weekends spent sitting at the computer, coupled with stress, a lack of work-life balance, and the increased consumption of pre-packaged foods, China is experiencing a nationwide health problem.

For instance, over 100 million Chinese people today are either overweight or obese, and over 100 million of the population have been diagnosed with diabetes. What’s more, China holds roughly 27 percent of the world’s cancer cases. With this in mind, it’s no surprise why a growing number of employers in China are recognizing the importance of reducing their financial burden and finding ways to boost the health of their employees.

As revealed by Cigna’s global survey, titled: Working well: A global survey of health promotion and workplace wellness strategies, 54% of surveyed Chinese employers have had a workplace health promotion program in place for five years or less. Compared with employers in North America and other parts of the world, the concept of workplace wellness is however still relatively new for a lot of local employers in China. That said, there has been an encouraging trend towards employers recognizing the importance of employee health and their physical and psychosocial working environment.

3 tips for bolstering your employee wellness program

One of the top questions that companies looking to put a corporate wellness program in place will usually ask is: What kind of wellness program should I implement? As every company is different, let’s look at the things you should focus on before you make your final decision.

A wellness program that meets the diverse needs of employees

The most important aspect of implementing any HR policy is to first address what your employees actually want and need. According to American Express, the key to success in implementing corporate wellness programs is to have a customized plan that aligns with the needs of the employees and the individual company culture. But, how do you figure out what your employees truly need? The only way to know for sure is by communicating with your employees, and asking them what they want.

An article by Human Resources Online presents an example of a successful corporate wellness program that is contextualized to the unique needs of employees is a wellness strategy implemented by Australian fashion retailer Cotton On Group. With over 1,500 stores in 19 countries, Cotton On Group recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is likely not going to work in maximizing employee satisfaction. Instead, through focus groups, surveys, and general observations, the health and wellbeing department is constantly working on delivering programs that remain relevant.

The company’s operations in Asia span four different countries, meaning that country-specific medical plans, counselling, and cultural events are required. For example, the country hub office in Singapore held yoga sessions and offered massages for team members before they take on Lunar New Year trade. What’s more, in order to cater to the specific needs of all individual team members, Cotton On Group further implemented one-on-one health and wellbeing coaching as well as personal training sessions at in-house gyms.

Luke McLean, the health and wellbeing manager at Cotton On Group believes that their employee wellness initiatives have seen enhanced teamwork and productivity, as well as a greater sense of optimism, which in effect has meant that their employees are able to “perform at their personal best every day”.

Give employees the power of choice

There are many benefits and features that may be offered by your potential wellness program, including but not limited to:

  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Counselling
  • Weight loss programs
  • Yoga sessions
  • Meditation
  • Stress management
  • Life coaching
  • Company outings
  • Company-wide tournaments
  • Family-at-work activities (e.g. “little ones at work”)
  • Charity fundraising events

Not all wellness benefits will be relevant to all individual employees, which is why it is important to offer a selection of benefits so that your employees can customize their wellness plans and opt for the benefits that appeal to them the most. For example, some employees may choose particular features that specifically address their weight management and smoking needs, while employees who are focused on maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle will likely be more interested in attending competitive sport tournaments.

Starting with a comprehensive wellness plan

As each team member comes with different interests, lifestyles, as well as health and wellness needs, in order to implement a successful wellness program it is important to start with a comprehensive and flexible program that appeals to the vast majority of the workforce and also meets your organization’s budget requirements. Of course, it can be hard to go through all the possible wellness offerings out there and do a full review of the market, which is why often times the ideal wellness plan is overlooked. As such, consulting an experienced insurance broker can really save you the time and effort in finding the best corporate wellness plan.

Serving a diverse group of clients in China since 2003, Pacific Prime China helps you find the best wellness plan for your organization’s needs at no extra cost vs the insurance company. As employee benefits specialists, we do all the work for you by saving you time to find the ideal plan that delivers the best value for money year-on-year. What’s more, our close relationships with all major insurance companies ensures that we have the competitive advantage when it comes to negotiating premiums at renewal time.

Interested in learning more or securing an employee wellness program for your business? Be sure to contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today for unbiased advice, as well as a free price quote and plan comparison!

Posted by Jess in Group Health Insurance
Top 5 insurance requirement considerations for sending employees overseas

Top 5 insurance requirement considerations for sending employees overseas

Sending workers overseas represents a huge responsibility for employers, which is why proper planning and following the right insurance requirements can, quite literally, save lives.

While working abroad can be a very exciting opportunity for expats, employees will likely find themselves feeling vulnerable to a myriad of potential pitfalls when working in unfamiliar locations – and not least in terms of healthcare and safety risks. As such, safeguarding your employees overseas is imperative, not just as a legal and moral obligation but also as a social responsibility.

The need to follow the right insurance requirements when sending employees overseas is widely known. Despite this, a recent UK-based survey cited in the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal found that only 7.8 percent of business owners are aware of the insurance requirements for sending employees overseas. What’s more, the majority of respondents (67.3 percent) said they did not know the insurance requirements, while 24.9 percent said they weren’t entirely sure of the requirements.

To clear up some of the uncertainty around insurance requirements and sending your employees abroad, today we look at the following 5 important factors you should consider before you send your workers overseas.

1. Check up on regional insurance requirements

To ensure that your employees are protected from hefty medical bills abroad, health insurance coverage is essential. An important thing to consider here is whether there are any health insurance requirements in your employee’s destination country, as many countries are seeing increased implementation of health insurance regulations. For instance, the issue and renewal of employment visas in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is conditional upon proof at the time of application that the employer has in place appropriate health insurance for their employee.

2. Relying on local healthcare: Is it enough?

Relying on local healthcare systems can be a mixed bag, and really depends on the type of system the government provides. For example:

  • The UK’s NHS system offers free, state funded health cover at virtually no cost for a vast majority of their healthcare services.
  • Expats living in France are eligible to apply for the French national health insurance scheme – Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU) – which covers around 80% of medical treatment costs.
  • EEA citizens can also apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides free or discounted access to public healthcare when visiting a country within the EEA.
  • Some countries share reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries. E.g., the Australian government has reciprocal healthcare agreements with 11 countries, meaning that Australian residents can access essential medical treatment when in these countries, and vice versa for residents of those countries visiting Australia.

It’s important to note here that even if your employee has the option of availing these local healthcare benefits, relying on these benefits alone in many cases may not be sufficient, especially for those on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. If that’s the case, we strongly advise securing international group health insurance, especially for businesses in multiple offices in different locations and employees who travel between them. This is even more essential for employees moving to countries with a poor quality of healthcare and are not eligible for care from local facilities.

3. Travel insurance or international insurance?

While travel insurance can be ideal for employees on short international assignments or visiting conferences, it likely won’t be the right type of plan for staff on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. This is because travel insurance often comes with much lower coverage limits than international health insurance, and is designed only to see the policyholder well enough to fly them back to their home country. On the other hand, international plans are designed for globally mobile expats and offer far more extensive medical coverage in both your employee’s home country and abroad. It’s also more customizable with options to add dental, maternity, vision and other wellness benefits at an extra premium.

4. Does your employer’s liability policy cover staff overseas?

In China, many businesses choose to secure additional employer’s liability insurance in excess of the compensation under the nation’s Work-related Injury Insurance regulation promulgated by the Social Security Administration Department of the State council. The important thing to note here is that many employers’ liability policies will not cover employees who work overseas for extended periods of time. Another thing to be aware of here is whether you’ll need to take out additional country-specific employer’s liability insurance to cover your workers in the event that they sustain any work-related injuries overseas.

5. Seek advice from an experienced broker

Virtually every corporate health insurance and business insurance plan out there is different, which is why it can be tough to find the appropriate cover for your business and your employees’ needs. As such, it pays to seek professional, impartial advice from insurance experts like Pacific Prime China. With extensive industry experience, we’ll do the research for you and provide you with market intelligence that puts you in the best position whenever you’re faced with a decision regarding your corporate coverage.

Got any more questions regarding group medical solutions and corporate insurance? Get in touch with the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today.

Posted by Jess in Group Health Insurance