Coronavirus: HK insurers offer special payouts to patients hospitalised or quarantined

10-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong insurers are offering special cash payouts to policyholders hospitalised or quarantined because of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed hundreds and infected tens of thousands.

Treatment for people infected by the illness is restricted to Hong Kong’s public hospitals, and they cannot claim expenses as they would in the case of treatment at private hospitals. The insurance companies are offering special payouts to counter this situation.

Most insurers, such as AXA, Prudential, AIA, HSBC Life, FTLife and YF Life, are offering special payouts of between HK$600 (US$77) and HK$1,000 per day, if policyholders need to stay in hospital or are quarantined because of the disease. Some are offering lump sums between HK$15,000 and HK$20,000 to those infected. If the policyholders die, their families can get HK$150,000 to HK$180,000, according to 10 insurance companies polled by the South China Morning Post.

“Generally speaking, those who have bought medical insurance will get cover for all the expense of the treatment and hospital costs for the disease, including the coronavirus,” said Derek Yung, chief executive for Hong Kong at Prudential. “The disease is not included in the critical illness policies. However, if the coronavirus triggers some other critical illness on the list of the policies, it will get compensation too.”

The company, one of the largest insurers in the city and the first to offer the payout, has received less than 10 claims from policyholders in Hong Kong and mainland China related to the disease. “Anyone who has bought medical policies from Prudential in Hong Kong, including locals and mainlanders, can get cover for the outbreak,” Yung added.

The coronavirus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, has claimed more than 630 lives including one in Hong Kong and infected about 29,000 people.

“As long as they do not have the infection at the time they bought the insurance, AXA will cover,” Alexander Chiu, the Paris-based insurer’s medical director, health and employee benefits, for Hong Kong and Macau, said in an interview. A strike by thousands of medical staff at Hong Kong’s public hospitals will push more people to seek treatment at private hospitals, pushing up demand for insurance, he added.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s purely online insurers, such as Bowtie Life, will benefit from the outbreak, as more people avoid human contact and rely on the internet for the purchase of insurance policies.

“A significant decrease in public travel is coinciding with a sharp rise in the number of online searches for coronavirus and health-related topics,” said Fred Ngan Yiu-fai, Bowtie’s co-founder and co-chief executive. “Our blog traffic and insurance sales have almost tripled in the first month of the year.”

“We believe this reflects a surge in awareness and demand for appropriate medical protection during this outbreak,” he added. “It also affirms that our online model offers exceptional convenience to our customers.”


Category: Hong Kong

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