Over six in 10 Asians (64 percent) claim they hold savings and investments or insurance to help them manage financially in the wake of unforeseen events. Globally, 54 percent say they have financial plans in place, according to HSBC’s new global report, The Power of Protection Confidence in the Future.
However, this does not mean individuals are well-prepared as the measures in place might be not sufficient at all. HSBC Global Head of Distribution for Insurance John Goddard said, “It is important for customers to continually review their protection needs as their financial goals and the cost of achieving them change over time. Insufficient protection means one might have to use the savings set aside for other purposes to pay for expenses incurred by unexpected events, for example it could impact their ability to pay for a child’s education or save for retirement.”
According to Swiss Re, the mortality protection gap in Asia Pacific increased to US $ 58 trillion in 2014 from US $ 42 trillion in 2010 while the health protection gap increased to US $ 54.2 billion in 2014 from US $ 9 billion in 2011.
According to the HSBC’s survey, 37 percent of working people surveyed in Taiwan (46 percent), Singapore (40 percent), Malaysia (37 percent), Hong Kong (37 percent), Indonesia (33 percent) and China (24 percent), on average, would not manage well financially or have no savings or protection to rely on should the unexpected happen.
Across respondents in Asia, 66 percent on average say that in life, they worry most about their health, followed by long-term financial security (49 percent) and quality of life (42 percent). Over a third of those who worry the most about health (33 percent) and long-term financial stability (39 percent) in Asia say they are financially unprepared if something unforeseen happens.
While health is the main concern for many, 57 percent of Asians think that someone else should be responsible for the cost of their personal healthcare: the state/government (22 percent), employer (18 percent), family (17 percent). People in China are most likely to think someone else should be responsible for funding their personal healthcare (71 percent) with 35 percent expecting this to be funded by the state.
“It is important that people are aware of the limitations of protection plans offered by employers or the government as they usually cover only general needs with a basic level of protection. With their traditional saving habits and the higher economic growth prospects in Greater China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asians are comparatively better positioned to build a personal safety net for unforeseen events,” added Goddard.
In Asia, our survey found that 71 percent of those who actively plan for the future believe that their future quality of life will be very good or excellent. This drops to 41 percent for people who are not active planners.
Goddard said, “We believe there is a strong link between being protected or prepared and people’s positivity about the future. A sound financial plan with insurance as the foundation should help secure your financial well-being and bring peace of mind, allowing you to look to the future with confidence.”
While the majority (more than 40 percent) of those who are not prepared say they believe they cannot afford it, four in 10 in Asia, on average, say they believe there is nothing they can do to prepare for the unknown versus the global average of around 30 percent.
Misunderstanding of insurance is another common barrier. Of those who are considering health insurance but have not yet purchased it, the main barrier is cost-related; 59 percent of people in Asia say they either know or expect it to be too expensive while 43 percent say they do not know how to go about it or are concerned
Goddard said, “People can sometimes find insurance complex and there are often misconceptions about the costs involved, which is why they should seek financial advice from a trusted provider to help identify the right solution for them.”
HSBC’s research identified four actions that may help individuals to better prepare for the future:
1. Identify your biggest concerns
Review the financial protection you have in place today. See if it is enough to cover any concerns you have about providing for you and your family’s lifestyle, home, health and future, if something unexpected should happen.
2. Know your future aspirations
Think about your aspirations for the future. Seeking professional advice could help you understand what protection you may need to put in place to achieve them.
3. Have an action plan
Once you understand what protection you have and what you need, explore the options available and take action to bridge the gap.
4. Review it regularly
Employer and state provision may not be sufficient for all your needs and your circumstances will change over time. Review your plan regularly so you can take corrective action early.