HONG KONG, Aug. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid the anxiety and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, people in Hong Kong with insurance policies are adopting healthier lifestyle habits to improve their physical health and mental well-being, while showing far greater willingness to embrace digital technology in their day-to-day lives, according to a new survey by Manulife.
The Manulife Asia Care Survey covers 2,400 insurance owners across eight markets, including 300 respondents in Hong Kong. The survey takes a closer look at the pandemic's long-term impact on local economies, personal wealth and insurance buying habits. All Hong Kong respondents expressed concern about the pandemic's long-term impact on the local economy and their own personal wealth. The survey also shows that respondents significantly increased their use of e-commerce, online and digital services for finance, shopping and news consumption.
"In Hong Kong, we see a far more discernible health consciousness among the public than before, especially for those who are insurance owners," said Damien Green, CEO of Manulife Hong Kong and Macau. "The survey findings also support the development of more digital platforms and tools for the Hong Kong people as the use of digital has risen dramatically during the COVID-19 outbreak. Manulife has been investing heavily on digital solutions for our distributors and customers to ensure they have better online experience from purchase to account management and claims. Digital development will continue to be a strategic focus for us even after the pandemic."
The survey, which was conducted in late May, covered Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. All those surveyed were current insurance customers who own Manulife or other insurers' policies.
Health consciousness on the rise
Thirty-five per cent of the survey's Hong Kong respondents found ways to be more physically healthy and 31% started to keep track of their mental health status since the onset of COVID-19. Health consciousness is very much on the rise and lifestyle habits are undoubtedly changing towards healthier living in both body and mind.
"Our health business is central to our Hong Kong business strategy, so it's good to see this level of interest in personal physical and mental fitness. The findings tie in with what we're hearing from our agents on the ground here," said Mr. Green. "Surveys such as this are a way to understand our customers' concerns, priorities and aspirations. We can then feed this into the design of our products and services to meet our customers' needs in Hong Kong. Our strong position in the market helps ensure we continue to provide tailored health solutions to make their lives every day better."
The growing appetite for a healthier and more active lifestyle is hugely important given the rising cost of healthcare and the need for Hong Kong's local health services to meet increased demand from an aging population. Across Asia, healthcare costs have increased significantly over the past 20 years, rising nearly 500% during that period, according to the World Bank. In 2018-19, the annual healthcare cost per capita in Hong Kong was HK$23,815, or 6.2% of GDP.
Hong Kong shifting to digital
Alongside their desire to get fitter, 34% of the respondents in Hong Kong said the pandemic had caused them to review and manage personal finance more often than before the COVID-19 outbreak. And most of them will continue to do so in the next 18 months. Much of this active personal finance management is being done online. It is also noteworthy that 46% of those surveyed in Hong Kong do not have six months' savings on hand if they lose their main source of income.
During the pandemic, habits formed include a far greater willingness to shop online (55%), use of online services such as online chat and online payment (50%) and reading news online (39%). The take-up of these habits is towards the lower end of the spectrum among the markets surveyed across Asia, but that is in part due to Hong Kong being a mature market, where use of digital is already more available, trusted and ingrained.
COVID-19 has accelerated trends already in place, notably digitization in lifestyle. The acceptance and adoption of these trends provide another reason to believe that the changing habits will, in part at least, be permanent.
Appetite grows for health insurance in Hong Kong
Across Asia, 62% of respondents, who are already insurance owners, said they plan to buy new insurance in the next six to 18 months. In Hong Kong, 48% are looking to buy more insurance, even when the city has very high levels of insurance ownership compared to other markets in Asia, such as Indonesia or the Philippines. Critical illness (17%), hospitalization (17%) and health (19%) are the top three desired new insurance products under consideration by the Hong Kong respondents.
"In Hong Kong, we see people recognizing that critical illness often reoccurs. Aside from the immediate health concern, which is immensely challenging for patients and their family, the rising cost of healthcare and hospitalization can be a heavy financial burden," Mr. Green added. "There's a growing awareness of this and people increasingly seek out the best protection option for their needs."
A willingness to manage insurance via digital channels combined with new-found - or reawakened - interest in being more active, means that the Hong Kong survey respondents can tap into an insurer's digital products and services that help to make an active lifestyle more rewarding in terms of being fun and engaging.
 World Bank: http://datatopics.worldbank.org/health/health
 Hong Kong Government: https://www.fhb.gov.hk/statistics/download/dha/en/table1_1819.pdf
About Manulife Hong Kong
Manulife Hong Kong, through Manulife International Holdings Limited, owns Manulife (International) Limited, Manulife Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited and Manulife Provident Funds Trust Company Limited. As a member of the Manulife group of companies, Manulife Hong Kong offers a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individual and corporate customers in Hong Kong and Macau.
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we operate as Manulife across our offices in Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. We provide financial advice, insurance, and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2019, we had more than 35,000 employees, over 98,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving almost 30 million customers. As of March 31, 2020, we had C$1.2 trillion (HK$6.6 trillion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made C$30.4 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 155 years. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.