Local Drivers in Hong Kong Less Likely to Make Claims Than Expats

According to Kwiksure's recent figures, expat drivers in Hong Kong are more likely to make claims than local drivers. Kwiksure has processed a higher total number of claims from locals than expats this year but when compared to the number of policies sold to both local drivers and expats, it appears that local drivers are less likely to make a claim.

So far in 2013, Kwiksure has reported 315 claims from HK locals and 78 made by expats with a reported 27,060 policies sold to locals and 3,826 for expat drivers. When comparing the two sets of figures, it becomes apparent that the average expat driver is more likely to make a claim than the average local driver. For locals, the number of claims is roughly 1.16% of the number of new policies, while for expats, the figure stands at about 2.04% of the number of new policies. Using another comparison, while expats have made up approximately 12.39% of new policies, they've also made up about 19.90% of claims so far in 2013.

These figures also align with those from last year. In 2012, KS recorded 1303 claims for locals and 332 claims for expats. However, KS activated 40,369 policies for locals and only 6,039 for expats. Similar to this year's figures, the proportion of claims to new policies is almost twice as high for expats as it is for locals. The percentage of new policies that KS sold to expats was about 13.01%, while the percentage of claims that KS processed for expats was approximately 20.31%.

The experts at Kwiksure believe there are several possible explanations behind these statistics.

Kwiksure Motor Insurance Manager Ken Chung believes that the higher likelihood of claims from expats could be due to the differences in driving culture. He believes that expats, especially during their first few year driving in Hong Kong, may not yet have adapted to several different factors of Hong Kong roads. Hong Kong is extremely congested compared to many parts of the world, and the driving lanes and parking stalls can be extremely narrow.

The other drivers in Hong Kong can be a big departure from what expats are used to in their home countries as well. Many HK drivers do not signal when changing lanes, and they often overtake on both sides, which are both uncommon practices in many countries. Talking on mobile phones while driving is also much more prevalent in HK than in some parts of the world. Although talking on the phone while driving is illegal in HK, it is not as heavily enforced as in other parts of the world.

There are some specifically fundamental differences between the roads in HK and other parts of the world as well. Traffic signs are different than in other parts of the world, and expats might not understand the HK traffic signs as much as locals do. Roundabout etiquette is different than in Europe and North America as well, though many local drivers don't understand the correct procedure either since it's not a part of the HK driving tests. There is also the matter of which side of the road to drive on. Many expat drivers are used to driving on the right side of the road like in their home countries, and they may not have adjusted to driving on the left. In Hong Kong, the driver also sits on the right side of the car, whereas in many other parts of the world, the driver sits on the left. These are all differences that can all pose a greater safety risk for expats.

Chung believes that all these differences in driving culture become significant problems because a large portion of drivers on HK roads were not required to pass a driving test in Hong Kong in order to obtain their HK driver's license. Chung states, “The HK Transport Department is allowed to grant licenses to expats from certain countries who have an existing drivers license without requiring them to take a driving exam. This means that many expats drivers are driving without on HK roads without the adequate level of preparation”. Furthermore, visitors in Hong Kong who are staying less than 12 months are actually not actually required to obtain any HK license at all as long as they have a valid driver's license from their home country. Simply put, many expat drivers are not taking the time to adjust to the HK driving culture in a safe environment before braving the HK roadways.

KS experts are curious to see if driver license policies for expats will change at all in the future. Until then, KS will continue to keep an eye on the number of claims from expats and local drivers alike.