Hong Kong is celebrating 20th return anniversary

July 1, 2017 is the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong‘s return to China after many years under UK rule. President Xi Jinping is visiting the Hong Kong for the 20th return anniversary. After around 100 years as a British colony region, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 under the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement. Hong Kong is known for its advanced healthcare system, excellent transit system and an active nightlife. It is a popular expat destination around the world and many expats coming from western countries find it relatively easy to adapt.

Cantonese and Mandarin are the dominant languages in Hong Kong, but English is also widely spoken so it can be an easy place to adjust for expatriates living there. As a global city, English is taught at schools. In fact, there is a constant need for expat native English speakers at both international schools and adult English learning institutions. Hong Kong is also recognised as a prosperous global business district in Asia. If you’re used to a fast-paced lifestyle, then Hong Kong is the place for you. It also has an excellent health care system for expats and locals alike. 

Communities and organisations across China mainland will be celebrating the 20th return anniversary, from gala shows and culture festivals, to fireworks, sporting events, exhibitions, etc. Expats living and working in Hong Kong are encouraged to explore the various events and celebrations. All travellers are welcomed to discover Hong Kong by participating in major events and activities taking place in the region.

For more information on celebration events and publicity materials, please visit the official site of Hong Kong’s 20th return anniversary or click here for events brochure:

Road accidents in Thailand are a big risk for expats

Thailand is bustling and vibrant country at the heart of South-East Asia. There are many beautiful beaches and historic temples in Thailand. As a popular expat destination, Thailand has much to offer anyone when on the beach or traveling the country on many roads and highways. However, according to a recent article in the BBC news, 478 people lost their lives on the roads in just seven days over the New Year period in 2017. Unfortunately, like many developing countries, road accidents in Thailand are a big risk for expats. In this article, we will briefly review the high incidence of road accidents in Thailand, road safety tips for expats and how this higher risk highlights the importance of having global medical insurance in Thailand.

Road Accidents in Thailand 

According to a 2015 World Health Organization report, Thailand’s road death rate is one of the highest in the world. In fact, on Jan.2, 2017, a public van lost control and collided on a highway and 25 people were killed in the crash, as reported by many news organizations. Between December 29 and Jan. 3, 478 people died in 3,327 accidents according to by the Department of Land Transport. It has also been reported that road accidents involving tourists and expatriates in Thailand are quite common. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that there were 36 road related traffic deaths a year per 100,000 people in 2015. The British foreign office in 2013 even launched a road safety campaign to cut the number of UK expats injured and killed while living abroad, especially in countries such as Thailand.

As reported by the Vancouver Province, in January 2017, two Canadian women traveling in Thailand were involved in a car accident in Thailand. One died and the other suffered severe injuries and did not have any travel medical insurance. She is now faced with large medical bills.

One of the main reasons of road accidents in Thailand is speeding. However, other factors such as the rise of population, congestion in urban centers and highways, too many cars and vehicles in cities, etc. are all causes of road death. Luckily, the Thai government is implementing new road and safety projects and high-rise roads to improve the traffic conditions. In Thailand, many of the deaths and injuries involve scooters and motorcycles.

expat healthcare if critical

How to Increase Road Safety as an Expat in Thailand 

As a popular international destination, there are many expats choose to work and retire in Thailand. Just because there are more frequent road accidents doesn’t mean you should not enjoy life in Thailand. Here are some common sense road safely tips for expatriates in Thailand:

  • If you want to drive in Thailand, it is advised that always follow the legal speed limit.
  • Keep a certain distance with motorcycles – their speed is faster than you think.
  • When crossing road intersections, don’t rush to pass.
  • If you need to ride a motorbike or bicycle, wearing helmet is mandatory, but not usually enforced. However, it is well recommended as motorcycle accidents make up 70% of all road accidents in Thailand.
  • Expats living in Thailand should take extra care when walking in the city.
  • Your risks of a road accident increase when you ride or travel at night, so try to use the roads during the day.
  • Avoid riding quad bikes as they can be dangerous and illegal.
  • Check out the UK Foreign Office web site for Road Safety Overseas.
  • Before you enter Thailand and travel the roads, make sure you are covered for international health insurance. Make sure your health plan covers you if you are riding a motorcycle.

Railay beach, Krabi. Thailand

Medical Facilities in Thailand 

In major cities such as Bangkok of Thailand, the standard of medical facilities is generally quite good. Both public and private hospitals are available in Thailand. The public hospitals have good standard of medical care and used by the majority of Thai nationals. However, expats will want to skip the long queue of public hospitals and use private medical facilities with English speaking medical staff. If you are traveling the roads in more rural areas, the medical care you receive in the event of a road or pedestrian accident may be substandard. According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, many private hospitals in Thailand are equivalent to western standards. Although the cost of medical treatment is reasonable in Thailand, expats should obtain international health insurance with medical emergency coverage before departure in the case of emergencies.

Obtain International Health Insurance in Thailand 

As one of the most visited country in Southeast Asia, Thailand is popular destination for expat worldwide. In 2016, a man from BC was visiting Thailand and while traveling by scooter he was run over by a large truck. Barely clinging to life with severe injuries, he barely survived. The Canadian did not have adequate medical coverage and his hospital bills quickly ran up to over $170,000 USD. This is an unfortunate reminder of the importance of international health insurance for expats living in Thailand.

If you are planning to work, live and retire in Thailand, most expatriates will want to obtain an international health insurance plan that will cover medical treatment in Thailand, but also globally. A good plan should not only cover accidents, but also illnesses. Expatriates in Thailand should make sure that their plan includes medical evacuation and repatriation coverageExpat Financial can source international health insurance for expatriates in Thailand from large and respected international insurance companies. If you are traveling the roads and highways in Thailand, contact us today for a quote and to discuss your Thailand expatriate insurance requirements.

Weather Advisories and Alerts for Expats - Tropical Cyclone Season Tips

Weather Advisories and Alerts for Expats – Tropical Cyclone Season

Recently, U.S. State Department and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alerted people to the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season, which begins November 1, 2016, and ends April 30, 2017. Travelers and expatriates living in South Pacific countries should definitely consider the potential dangers and be prepared for any weather emergencies. In this article, we will discuss South Pacific Tropical Cyclone and provide advisories for expats residing in cyclone prone regions. China and the Philippines recently experienced a very strong cyclone.

What is a Cyclone?

A tropical cyclone, or referred as tropical storm, cyclonic storm, it is characterized by heavy rains, strong winds and thunderstorms. During cyclone seasons, regions affected may experience local infrastructure damage, such as electricity outage, flights cancellations and more. This will follow by a series of adverse events, including shortages of accommodations, medical supplies, food and water.

How Can Expats Prepare?

  • Always stay aware of any weather conditions in your destination by radio, TV or other sources of information;
  • Statistics showed that minor tropical cyclones can quickly develop into dangerous storms. Follow local safety instructions for evacuations;
  • Use our blog post Top Ten Questions and Tips for Expats Moving Abroad to help you keep organized;
  • Visit our blog post What is Your Plan for Medical Emergencies While Residing Overseas? for medical emergency evacuations information;
  • Always carry your hotel and your country’s Embassy or Consulate’s phone number wherever you go. Register with your consulate if possible;
  • Store some fresh water and bring purification tablets;
  • Keep a medical kit in a water tight container;
  • Keep your car fuel tank full;
  • Prepare your expat residence to weather the storm;
  • Remain indoors if there is a storm & evacuate the area if the authorities recommend leaving;
  • Bring a survival & disaster kit if you are residing in a cyclone prone area. Be prepared to be on your own for several days till help arrives.

Global Health Insurance Considerations for Expats 

If encounter medical emergency situations while abroad, preparation beforehand is key. A cyclone or other weather event can cause significant damage and injuries to locals, visitors and long term expatriates. Also, cyclones can damage water supplies, increase insect diseases and water born sickness, so your health plan will be critical. Medical emergency evacuation is a critical if you become sick or inured after a cyclone event where local hospitals might not be able to address your medical needs. The cost of ambulances, helicopters, traveling medical care and planes can be incredibly high if you do not have an adequate medical evacuation plan, especially in a natural disaster.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form

Additional Resources

Please note that blow are other websites and are not maintained by Expat Financial:

China air pollution and its health impact on expats – Expat insurance

As one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, China has roughly a 5,000 year civilization and abundant culture and tourist resources. With its rich historical heritage, China attracts more and more visitors & expats from around the globe. However, in recent years, due to its fast growth in economies and industrialization, environmental issues – especially air quality has raised a broader concern in China. Many cities have been affected by smog. In this article, we will discuss China air quality situation and how it will impact expats relocating to China.

China Air Quality Study

According to a new study of air quality in five major cities by a team of researchers at Peking University, Guanghua School of Management, among Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenyang, the most favourable city is Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, next to Hong Kong. The second best is Shanghai. Actually, based on the statistical report, expats relocating to China would want to settle in the Southern area to minimize exposure to polluted air.

The reason why Guangzhou and Shanghai are better is because they are closer to the sea and have more rainfall, according to Mr. Chen Songxi, a statistician at Peking University. He recommends government to cut down emissions.

Beijing has some of the worst pollution problems in China. This is because Beijing is the capital, cultural and economic centre in China. Also, this exciting and crowded city has more than five million motor vehicles along with heavy manufacturing and power plants. Though strong north wind during fall and winter would help clear the air, that still doesn’t address the source of the problem – car emissions, heavy industries, power stations, etc…

In addition, Beijing often experiences sandstorms during Springtime, which can make air quality even worse. The skyline can turn orange due to the sandy weather. Pedestrians often have to wear masks to protect themselves from the dust.

Health Impacts of Smog on Expatriate’s Health

Some expats are refusing work assignments in some Chinese cities because of the high rate of pollution. Here are some health impacts for locals and expats residing in highly polluted cities:

  • Air pollution can impact food safety in China, likely because of smog can inhibit photosynthesis in plants
  • Expats with pre-existing medical conditions can have their medical health impacted by air pollution, especially those with asthma or COPD
  • Children, elderly and children are more susceptible to the impact of pollution
  • Air pollution can irritate your eyes and lungs
  • Decreased life span caused by increased chance of conditions such as bronchitis or even cancer
  • Decreased lung function

If you are concerned, check with you doctor on how you can mitigate the impact of China’s air pollution if you are going to become an expat there.

Will high pollution levels make expats think twice before moving to China? 

One of the largest considerations for expatriates thinking of moving to China is the prevalence of hazardous levels of air pollution in the city centers, especially in Beijing. Recently in both 2016 and early 2017, there have been extremely pollution levels that make going outside hazardous for your health. This is a big concern for expatriates, especially those with families. Some expats will want to choose an expat assignment in a Chinese city with the lowest air pollution levels. A city near the ocean is an obvious choice.

What You Can Do 

The Chinese government has been working hard to solve air pollution issues and is making some progress. In the meantime, expats residing in China would want to look at the following tips in order to stay healthy and safe:

  • Check weather report often, so that you can be more careful when choosing to go outdoors;
  • Purchase green plants for your home or your office help with air purifying;
  • If smog levels are high, wear masks when going outdoors. You can buy masks at convenient store and supermarkets, but make sure you invest in a high quality mask with a high pollution blocking rating;
  • If there is severe air pollution warnings, don’t go outside if possible.
  • Think about moving to a city in China that has less air pollution.

Bring International Health Insurance

Air pollution can severely impact your health if you are living in China, which is another reason to maintain a global medical plan. If you plan to stay in China to work and live for some time, it is strongly suggested that you should obtain quality expat health insurance. With current air pollution situation in China, you will want to protect yourself and your family from health related issues. Although in many major cities there are some satisfactory public hospitals for expats to choose, the method of payment and the quality of medical treatment may be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals. You may want to get out-patient medical option in your health coverage if you are going to live in a city with smog as you may have to visit your doctor more often.

With a comprehensive expat health insurance plan for you and your family, you can be covered for medical expenses, hospitalization and treatments, medicines and emergency evacuations – which is what you need to stay in China. If you are going for a short visit to China, then most people will purchase travel medical insurance for up to one year. Some Chinese embassies require proof of health insurance before issuing visas especially if you are a foreign student. If you are planning to reside in China, it is critical that you purchase international health insurance plan that will not only cover you in China, but globally as well – including back home.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in China.  If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your unique needs and produce a customized expat quote, please contact us or complete the quote form

Why Singapore is a great place for expats to live

According to BBC, a recent new HSBC report has named Singapore as the best place to live abroad for expats. The survey was conducted by interviewing around 27,000 people who rated 45 countries on subjects such as salaries, experience and family. Results shown that more than 60% found Singapore brought them higher earnings and helped their career progression. In this article, let’s discuss more about why Singapore is one of the best places to live abroad for expats.

Higher Earnings 

According to the survey, the average income of expats is around $97,000 USD, however, in Singapore, expats’ average earnings is $139,000. Besides, about 23% of them can earn more than $200,000 USD.

Higher Quality of Education 

About 75% of the expats rated the quality of education as better than at home. The main language of instruction in Singapore is English. Singapore’s education system has been known as “world-leading” .

Good Place to Start a Business 

58% of the surveyors thought Singapore is a good place to start a business. Singapore has made starting a business easier by combining tax registration with business registration on a single online form. It is widely known that Singapore is very business friendly and you will have easy access to the entire Asian region.

Healthier Living Environment in Singapore 

Singapore is considered as the ‘Happiest country in Asia’ in a study reported by ABC News. Singapore residents and expats appreciate the safe and clean society. According to HSBC, half of the participants felt they were healthier living in Singapore.

Bring International Health Insurance With You

Luckily, the medical facilities in Singapore are excellent, but the cost of care is also extremely expensive. Most expatriates will want to obtain international medical coverage if residing in Singapore. Medical evacuation is recommended along with a plan that provided global medical treatment. A plan that will provide reimbursement for medical expenses via a large network of hospitals is recommended. Many expats should also obtain global life and disability insurance coverage if they live in Singapore.

Here is a list of different types of insurance coverage you will want if you are planning to become an expatriate in Singapore:

If you require a quote for insurance coverage  for Singaporecontact Expat Financial today for a quote and to discuss your Singapore expatriate insurance needs.

Top Ten Questions and Tips For Expats Moving Abroad

Moving overseas is a huge and exciting life change. If you are are thinking of becoming an expatriate, there are questions to  ask several things to look into before moving abroad:

travelbag

  1. Check to see how much support your expatriate employer will provide you in your move abroad
  2. Check with your spouse to make sure he or she is OK with this move abroad. Many expat assignments will fail because the spouse can’t stand living abroad.
  3. Talk to people and research the country and the position. There’s lots of information on expat web sites.
  4. Travel to the country you will be moving to to fully experience what life will be like there. Don’t base it on a holiday experience.
  5. If you have children, what are the schools and childcare services in that country? Will your employer pay?
  6. Will your employer full pay for your travel expenses, including return trips to your home country during the year?
  7. Check on the tax implications of your move abroad. Talk to an expat tax adviser to see if you should become a non-resident for tax purposes.
  8. Will your spouse be able to work abroad? Can she seek employment in the new country?
  9. What housing will your employer provide? Is it in a good area and close to schools? If you are going on your own, will you sell your house and buy a property abroad or simply rent?
  10. Make sure your employer will provide adequate global medical insurance that will cover you abroad as most expats do not want to rely on local health plans. Also think about expat life and disability insurance for you and your family. If you are not being put on a group expatriate insurance plan, then you will have to look into international insurance coverage. Expat Financial offers a variety of plans for both multinational employers and individual expatriates, including international health insurance.