Pacific Prime China is now on WeChat!

Pacific Prime China WeChat QR Code

Pacific Prime China is excited to announce the launch of our very own portal on popular Chinese messaging platform WeChat – a welcome new addition to our current repertoire of social media accounts already on Facebook, and LinkedIn. Joining an active user base of 846 million, the official Pacific Prime China WeChat account now offers a whole host of exciting new features exclusive to our followers. To avail these perks, simply follow us on WeChat (WeChat ID: PacificPrime) today!

Pacific Prime China meets Chinese market trends

In joining the ubiquitous WeChat platform, Pacific Prime China taps into a whole new audience of avid users – more than 90% of WeChat users go on the messaging app every day, and over 50% of users use WeChat more than 1 hour daily! By keeping up-to-date with the latest market trends in China, Pacific Prime China joins in with 560,000 other official company accounts on the most popular online community channel in China.

With a current active user base that is hiking its way up to the 1 billion user mark, WeChat has far surpassed Twitter’s 317 million users and is steadily catching up with Facebook’s 1.79 billion active users. Interestingly, corporate workers form the largest user group on WeChat, making up 40.4% of total users.

More than just a messaging platform

Pacific Prime China sees enormous potential in finding new ways of personalizing our services to existing and new clients on WeChat, especially when looking at the different ways that users are currently engaging with the platform. For example, not only are people communicating via chat, but they are also engaging on its social media platform “Moments” with friends and companies – a significant 61.4% of users go onto WeChat Moments when they open the app.

Another popular feature is WeChat Payment, which links WeChat with the user’s credit card. There are now 200 million users connected to WeChat Payments, and this highly availed feature has even seen over 8 billion “red envelopes” sent over WeChat during Chinese New Year in 2016!

Key features offered in new Pacific Prime China WeChat portal

Here are a key few of the many exciting new features that you can expect from the new Pacific Prime China WeChat portal:

  • Claims processing: Existing clients of Pacific Prime China can now access their policy details, easily process claims, and also change their policy information.
  • Assisting new clients: Our WeChat portal allows us to assist our new clients with regards to securing their new policies
  • Access to a dedicated service team: We now have a dedicated team servicing our WeChat account, helping you with any questions you may have.
  • Keeping you informed: Followers will be able to access exclusive blog articles so that they can stay up-to-date on the latest, most important market information relevant to the insurance industry, covering topics related to expat health insurance, general insurance, health trends, and many more.

Don’t forget to follow us!

To access the exciting new features now available on Pacific Prime China’s latest portal, be sure to follow us via our WeChat ID: PacificPrime, or by scanning the QR code below:

Pacific Prime China WeChat

 

Interested in learning more about our WeChat portal or the plans that we offer? Contact us today and our team of insurance advisors will be more than happy to have a chat.

Insurance options for kids going to school overseas

Desk to showcase a student's insurance options

If you are planning on sending your child overseas for education, you undoubtedly already know there are a number of things to consider. One such thing to consider is your child will need health insurance. Here, we take a look at the common solutions available to parents whose children will be traveling abroad.

 

Common insurance solutions for students studying abroad

When going abroad for work or study there are usually a number of health insurance solutions available for people to consider. Here is an overview of the 3 most common types of health insurance secured by students studying abroad.

Travel insurance

These plans are designed to provide emergency medical cover to people while they are outside of their own country. Generally speaking, most travel insurance plans are a set period in length, usually providing cover for either individual trips of up to a set number of days or numerous trips of a set length (usually less than 30-60 days) over one year.  

Travel insurance plans are popular for students studying abroad not only because they offer medical coverage but they also cover other travel related incidents such as flight delays, lost luggage, and even emergency medical evacuation back to your home country.

The one thing to be aware of with these plans is that they are not designed to provide elective medical care while overseas, rather they are designed for medical emergencies and provide just enough coverage to see you well enough to return to your home country. If you plan on going to the doctor while studying abroad, the visit likely will not be covered by this plan.

Health insurance from a local provider

Almost every country popular with students will offer some form of local insurance. These plans are designed to provide citizens and residents of these countries with adequate health insurance coverage in that country only.

Generally speaking, there are two types of local insurance available in most countries:

  • Local plan offered by a private insurer – These are plans designed and sold for and to local markets by insurers who have licenses to operate within that country.
  • Coverage provided by the government – These are plans or coverage offered by the local government.

As mentioned above, local health insurance plans are designed to provide adequate coverage for most residents. In most cases, people with these plans will be visiting the public health sector which in many countries is subsidized by the government. As such, you will usually find that these plans have relatively low levels of coverage, or have limits placed on the amount you can claim for care.    

It should also be noted here that while many countries have health care or health insurance sponsored by the government, there are usually strict requirements as to who is eligible for this type of care. A good example of this would be Singapore with their Medisave program. Permanent residents and citizens of Singapore pay a percentage of their monthly income into a savings account that can then be used to cover the cost of healthcare for themselves and their family.

This savings account is not available for foreigners, which means their children would also not be able to benefit from the offsetting. If they were to get sick, they would need to pay the full cost to see a doctor.

Another example of this would be in Canada where all citizens and many residents have access to provincial health care, and students are required to have health insurance. The issue is, in some provinces, foreigners are not eligible for provincial insurance. This means that you will need to secure a plan from a private insurer.  

Health insurance from an international provider

The other common option for students going abroad is an international health insurance plan. These plans, offered by the global or international branches of major insurers, provide worldwide coverage. In other words, your child will be covered in your home country, the country they study in, and any country they may visit while overseas.

International health insurance plans are also designed to offer high coverage limits which means you can visit nearly any medical center and receive quality health care. These plans are popular with many expat families and companies who send their employees overseas as they afford the policyholder the ability to visit top quality healthcare.

The main concern many people have with these plans is that they are considerably more expensive than local or travel coverage.

 

Does my child actually need insurance while studying abroad?

This can actually be a fairly tough question to find a concrete answer to. Some schools and countries will require a valid insurance plan to be secured in order for a visa to be issued while others will simply recommend it.

For example, if your child is going to the going to school in the US, it is mandatory for some student visa holders to secure health insurance coverage that meets ACA (Affordable Care Act) requirements within the US.

One of the best pieces of advice we can offer is that it would be a good idea to contact the university or school your child will be attending. The reason for this is that some schools will actually offer coverage as part of the school fees. This is particularly common for schools in the UK, Canada, Australia, and even some in the US. These plans are usually local cover only and are affordable, however they may not be available to some students or will often have fairly strict limits and rules attached to how the plan can be used.

And of course, in many cases, it would be advised to secure a health insurance plan for your child in case they get sick and need to visit a doctor.  

 

Which health insurance plans should I purchase for my child?

In Pacific Prime China’s experience, it would be advisable to secure both a travel insurance and an international health insurance plan. The reasoning behind this is that the travel insurance plan will cover your child while they are traveling between your home country and the country their school is located in. There is always a chance that their luggage could be lost, or there will be delays while traveling (especially during the winter in the northern hemisphere) and having coverage to help offset the additional costs these bring can be a big help.

When it comes to actually living in their new country, an international health insurance plan will help cover the costs of any care needed. This is especially important in countries like Hong Kong, Canada, the UK, and the US, where the cost of health care can be prohibitively expensive if you don’t have access to the government/public health subsidies. These plans will also cover your child when they are at home and can have additional coverage elements like dental, and vision added thereby allowing your child to visit a dentist while they are at home on break.

One of the major advantages an international health insurance plan offers for children studying overseas is the fact that they will usually have emergency evacuation coverage. This means that if your child gets sick while at school you may be able to get them moved back to their home country, or a location where relatives are who can help them recover.

If you are looking for a health insurance solution that will cover your child while they are overseas, contact Pacific Prime China today. Our experts will be happy to discuss your options and help you find a plan that meets your whole family’s needs.   

Insurtech: The next big buzzword in insurance?

Image to showcase insurtech in China

You’ve probably heard of the word “insurtech” at some point, but what does it mean? This portmanteau of “insurance” and “technology” is a recent buzzword that describes how insurers are revolutionizing the insurance industry with disruptive technology to improve and grow their offerings. Since technology took central precedence in the Chinese government’s 2013 reforms, the insurtech sector continues to flourish, with sales that could reach over US $60 billion by 2018. This article highlights some of the major trends in insurtech and what this could mean for the future of insurance in China.

Are insurers utilizing technology?

There is little doubt that insurtech is nothing short of disruptive, but before we look into some popular examples of how the industry is leveraging technology it would first be a good idea to look into what exactly health insurers are doing and their view on technology.

Historically, health insurers have been a little slow to uptake technology but this is starting to change as we found in our Top International Private Medical Insurance Trends report released in early 2016. As we found in our report, health insurers are increasingly implementing three technological elements:

  • Portals
  • Mobile apps
  • Claims and plan data

It is clear that insurtech is certainly having an impact on the health insurance providers we work with, but there is still a long way to go in terms of catching up with other industries. Below are some interesting new insurtech elements that the industry is starting to look into leveraging.

Integrating wearable technology and health insurance

Wearable technology is huge in China, with over 9.5 million wearables sold between April and June 2016 alone. These Internet connected devices not only help you track your fitness and sleep patterns, etc., but they also gather large amounts of real-time data. This presents many new opportunities for insurers to adapt and create new offerings so that they are more personalized and flexible. Some insurance companies have even begun to offer discounts and other benefits to encourage people to share their wearable data.

Complementing underwriting data with wearables

Despite its growing popularity, the widespread adoption and integration of wearable devices by the insurance sector is still in its early days. However, essential data collected from these devices is increasingly being used to complement underwriting data.

For example, with a fitness tracker you can more easily identify what kind of lifestyle improvements you will likely need to make in order to adopt a more healthy lifestyle. If you’re committed to these lifestyle improvements, for example if you show that you have a good track record of exercising as well as having adequate sleep, this information could eventually be used to negotiate lower premiums, especially after a few years of solid results.

Tackling new risks with cyber insurance

According to China Daily Asia, China sees an astounding US $60 billion in cyber losses annually, with more than 8 million servers hijacked within the past 2 years. Cybercrime continues to dominate headlines in the country as hackers become increasingly sophisticated.

As such, a new type of insurance, named cyber insurance, has emerged to tackle these cyber risks. Cyber insurance protects policyholders from liabilities incurred as a result of private data being lost or leaked to the public, and also protects them from cyber attacks and hacks by arranging the funding needed to cover cybercrime losses.

The future of consumer cyber protection

Although this type of insurance tends to be more popular for organizations looking to protect their data, we predict that more homeowner’s insurance policies will include this type of coverage for consumer cyber protection. By offering security audits, insurers will be able to check whether or not sensitive data (e.g. banking details) stored in your computer and in your mobile devices are truly secure and hack-proof.

Other emerging forms of insurance

As the insurance sector continues to be influenced by technological innovation, new forms of insurance offering more personalized services are beginning to emerge. Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, WeChat, and Tencent have been quick to notice this trend as they continue to compete for market share in emerging forms of online insurance platforms.

With technology, insurance companies are also able to pinpoint opportunities to develop new types of insurance, some even capitalizing on protecting policyholders against social risks such as divorce. As providers begin to find new, more sophisticated ways of analyzing and gathering consumer data, we predict that services offered by providers will continue to be more flexible and tailored to the individual.

To learn more about your insurance options, visit Pacific Prime China today.

Critical illness insurance in China

EKG to showcase critical illness insurance

When it comes to the economy and wealth in China, the rise in the past 20 years has been nothing short of meteoric. The sheer number of people who have pulled themselves, or been pulled out of poverty and into the middle class has grown exponentially and is forecasted to do so in the impending future. This growth has spurred an increase in demand for nearly all things from tangible products like cars and phones to intangible products like critical illness insurance.

 

In fact, a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group has predicted that the demand for private critical illness insurance in China is set to increase nearly sevenfold in the next five years. The report found that in 2015 the value of critical illness insurance premiums was 169 billion RMB. This is expected to increase to 700 billion in 2020. In short, critical illness insurance in China will continue to be big business for insurers. In order to capture this business, you are likely going to see an increase in advertising from insurers for new policies. Like all other products in China, some policies will be fantastic, while others will be far short of this. The question is, how can we find the best critical illness plan for our coverage needs?

 

First, define critical illness

While many seasoned expats and professionals will be aware of what it is, there is increasing evidence that many younger professionals are unsure of what critical illness insurance is and whether they will need it. To that end, we should first define this type of insurance before looking into securing the best plan on the market.

 

Simply put, critical illness insurance is an insurance policy that is designed to pay out when a person is diagnosed with a critical or life-threatening illness that you have a chance of recovering from. This is different from strictly terminal illness cover, which only pays out when you have a terminal disease.

 

The majority of plans created in China pay out in a lump-sum at a predetermined time e.g., 14 days after diagnosis or surgery. Other plans offer a kind of income that is paid out in installments over a set period of time once a diagnosis has been made. In China, and in much of the world, these plans are sold usually as riders on life insurance plans, meaning if you purchase a life insurance plan, you can also add on critical illness insurance.    

 

The key to note here is that almost all critical illness plans will have a set list of conditions or illnesses they will pay out for. These will vary by insurer, but all plans will cover at least:

 

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery

 

While the money paid out by these insurance plans can be used for anything, it is most commonly used to cover:

 

  • Medical costs associated with the listed condition.
  • Costs associated to recovery from the condition.
  • Funeral costs should the covered die.
  • Lost income.
  • Payment of mortgage or outstanding bills.
  • Living costs of surviving family members.

Do I need critical illness insurance?

In truth, not every person out there will need critical illness insurance. For example, if you live in a country where retirement benefits, healthcare, and welfare are well ingrained and sound, then the chances of needing this type of insurance are considerably lower. The same can be said for people who receive cover through their company that they deem to be acceptable.

 

That said, this is not the case for the vast majority of people in China. This is especially true for people who don’t have a large amount of savings, are single earners, or can’t afford to take the time off of work to recover. Essentially, if you can’t afford the hospital bills and living costs now, should a serious disease or ailment strike you, then it would probably be a good idea to consider critical illness insurance.

 

5 tips on how to find the best critical illness plan

Here are our top 5 tips on how you can find the best critical illness plan

 

1. Always look at the conditions covered

This is extremely important, as insurers will usually have different lists of the conditions this type of insurance covers. As we noted above, they will all cover at least cancer, stroke, heart attack, and coronary artery bypass surgery, but after that, the lists will be different.

 

While it is impossible to predict what diseases we may get, or whether we will get sick at all, it would be beneficial to compare lists and look for some of the more common ailments. Ideally, you should look for a plan that covers a variety of illnesses.

 

2. Be aware that some cancers will not be covered

While cancer is always covered by these plans, it is important to note here that some cancers will be excluded especially if there are high recovery rates associated with cancer. For example, early stage melanoma will not usually be covered largely because the recovery rates are near 100%.

 

The key here is that cancer will need to be critical, some insurers will assess cancer cases on a case-by-case basis in order to determine whether they will pay out on a claim.

 

3. Check that total & permanent disability is included

This will increase premiums associated with critical illness coverage, as the chances of an insurer paying out on these types of claims will be higher. The thing is, while this is riskier for the insurer, it is riskier for you to not have this coverage. If you are maimed in a traffic accident your earning potential will likely drop, which can have an impact not only on your life but also on your family as well. Investing a little extra on the premium can go a long way in preventing future problems.

 

4. Don’t select on price alone

Like many things in China, the price, or premium, on these plans will be drastically different. In our experience cheaper plans often have lower payouts and much stricter coverage limits and requirements. While these plans may be perfect for some people, they could be a bit of a risk for others.  

 

We strongly recommend looking for a plan that balances coverage elements, clearly defined payouts, and an agreeable premium.

 

5. Discuss your options with Pacific Prime

Finally, if you are considering securing a critical illness plan, it would be a good idea to talk with the insurance team at Pacific Prime China. We can help you determine your coverage needs and then identify and evaluate a number of possible plans that will work for your. We can also help ensure that you get the best coverage from a reputable insurer.

 

Contact us today to learn more.

China introduces increased regulation of life insurance

Image to denote life insurance confusion

In recent years the insurance industry in China has done nothing short of boom. Expats who have lived in the country for a long period of time have seen the variety of policies expand from just those offered by one provider to hundreds if not thousands of different providers now offering a wide array of products. One of the most popular types of insurance secured in China these days has to be life insurance. According to China Daily, “The Chinese insurance industry has experienced rapid expansion over the past decade, with annual life-insurance premiums growing from $10 billion in 1999 to $300 billion in 2013.”

In this article, we take a look at the two major categories of life insurance sold in China, the recent regulations implemented in regards to this type of insurance, and what this means for consumers.

Categories of life insurance in China

Insurers in China, like in many other countries, have a variety of life insurance policies available for residents to secure. Generally speaking, these products can be divided into two categories based on the expected length a person will have a policy:

  • Short- and mid-term life insurance products – Policies that the insurer expects to or creates to have an effective duration of five years. Effective duration is the term, or how long the policy will be taken out for. A good example of a policy that is considered short to mid-term life insurance would be accident insurance.

  • Long-term or whole life products – Policies that are created by insurers to last, or provide coverage, for a long period of time. In China, this means more than five years up to a person’s whole life. An example of life insurance policies with long terms would be the historically popular long-term care insurance.

The current life insurance situation in China

Historically, life insurance in China was provided by a number of state-owned insurers like China Life Insurance Company. Following market liberalization and reforms throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, the industry started to see exponential growth with an ever increasing number of providers joining the market and offering plans.

Like many other countries, it was popular to secure long-term life insurance, but as the population grew and life expectancy increased the number of insured also grew. This increase in the number insurers, along with longer lives, meant that insurers faced higher risks of actually paying out on a policy. To mitigate this risk, insurers have continually increased premiums to the point where many long-term policies are not really palatable to many consumers – the premiums far outweigh the actual coverage benefits.

So, in a way to reduce premiums, insurers started to market shorter term plans. To entice people to buy these products, many of these policies offered much lower premiums than the long-term plans, along with high levels of return. Some plans guaranteed returns of over 3.5%, while other plans even advertised returns as high as 8%. Of course, lower premiums and guaranteed return proved to be incredibly popular. In fact, when the CIRC (Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission) implemented a new regulation that all policies secured must be registered, it was found that these short-term policies were extremely popular.

As Asia Insurance Review highlighted, “The number of insurance policies recorded so far (since 2015) totals 1.4 billion. However, the number of people who bought long-term life insurance stands at around 40 million. The bulk of insurance policies sold comprises short-term products, particularly short-term accident insurance.”

One of the reasons these policies have been so popular is that there are smaller, unlicensed companies aggressively pushing these policies, with many insurers touting these policies more as investment products than protection products. They then turn around and invest the money gained from premiums into other markets like real estate and listed companies (a process which was allowed in 2014).

The problem with this

There are actually two major concerns with these actions and plans. Firstly, it is incredibly risky, especially if an insurer is taking the premiums and investing them. If there is a market recession or crash and the insurer has guaranteed a high return, there is a high chance that they won’t have the liquidity to pay out on the returns. Or worse, they could go insolvent, leaving any people with these plans high and dry.

Secondly, there is a good chance that your returns will be considerably lower. For example, some insures guarantee a 4.5% return, charge 3% in fees which means your actual return will be 1.5%. Beyond that, because these plans are short-term, you are going to want to re-invest, especially if you get a good return. The thing is, you will be 5 years older which means the premiums will be higher and possibly the returns guaranteed lower. Over time, you could see any returns minimized or even negated. Essentially, it’s a risky investment strategy.

Recent regulations

To alleviate some of this risk, there have been a number of regulations recently implemented.

First off, according to Reuters, “The new rules say that at the end of the latest quarter, the annual insurance premiums from short-to-mid-term products should be less than 2 times greater than an insurer’s invested capital or net assets. The rules also specify that annual insurance premiums for products with terms between 1 and 3 years should only comprise 50 percent of an insurer’s total premiums by 2018.”

The second regulation implemented regarding life insurance states that life insurance policies terminated within the first three years will be charged a penalty (as of the writing of this article, there has been no word on what this amount will be). It was also announced that the CIRC set a cap on returns on policies of 3%, down from the previous 3.5%. Any plans that guarantee a return above this must first be approved by the regulator with any payments being based on the actual performance of the universal life account.

The impact on insurance

If the regulations continue in the direction in which they are headed, we expect to see an overall decrease in the number of short-term plans sold, or at the very least plans offering a more sensible return that helps reduce risk. As the CIRC has stated, however, they want to ensure that people are buying plans for the sake of securing coverage instead of an investment vehicle.

It will be interesting to see how the life insurance industry changes in the coming months, and years. In the meantime, if you are looking for life insurance that provides you adequate coverage, please contact Pacific Prime China.