Comparing Free COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effect Insurance (Updated May 2021)

Estimated reading time 10 minutes
03 Jun 2021
{COVID-19} Comparing Free Covid-19 Vaccine Side-effect Insurance
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03 Jun 2021

Estimated reading time 10 minutes

After a year of despair and isolation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, 2021 brings renewed hopes to the world as various governments start implementing vaccination programs. As of 26th May, over 1.2 million people in Hong Kong have taken the 1st vaccine dose. In response, insurance companies including AIA, AXA, BOC Life, Bupa, Chubb, FTLife, FWD, Manulife, Prudential, Well Link, YF Life, ZA and Zurich have launched free vaccine side effect coverage to their customers and/or the public. The 10Life research team has compared these 13 free coverage offers in the market and summarised the key points to note.


What is covered?

The coverage is generally on adverse effects requiring hospitalisation as a result of having the vaccine. Most insurers put a time limit on the side effect onset – usually within 14 days of immunisation (up to 30 days for Zurich). The main coverage is in the form of hospital cash, mostly on a per day basis ($800-$1000) for up to 10-14 days, while Zurich offers a lump sum of HK$8000 upon any hospital confinement due to COVID-19 vaccine side effects. Chubb provides maximum $1,600 per day (up to 14 days) if the insured is required to stay at ICU.

Most of the insurers also provide mortality coverage, ranging from HK$100,000 to HK$300,000, payable if the insured dies of adverse effects within a defined period after being vaccinated.

A few insurers including AIA, Bupa, Chubb, FWD, FTLife, Manulife and YF Life also provide pre-hospitalisation medical consultation cover, ranging from HK$300 to HK$500. On the hand, Prudential provides a lump sum coverage of HK$10,000 to the insured who is diagnosed with Covid-19, while ZA and Zurich offers HK$20,000.

It is worth noting that the coverage mentioned here applies only to hospitalisation and/or death due to adverse effects from vaccination. When it comes to claims, the insurance company would require you to provide evidence that the adverse effects are directly caused by the vaccines and not other pre-existing conditions. Based on 10Life’s research most of the insurers refer to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s definition on adverse effects (see table below), but some insurers (e.g. Zurich) have their own definition and exclusions. 

World Health Organization (WHO) Definition on Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI)
• Any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The adverse event may be any unfavourable or unintended sign, an abnormal laboratory finding, a symptom or a disease.

• Grouped into five categories:
Vaccine product-related reaction
Vaccine quality defect-related reaction
Immunization error-related reaction
Immunization anxiety-related reaction
Coincidental event

• AEFI can be also classified into one of the following categories: 
Allergic reaction
Local reaction
Systemic reaction
Neurological disorders

Who is eligible?

Most of the free coverage offers apply to new and/or existing policyholders only, with the exception of AXA, Prudential, Well Link and ZA where the offers are open to all Hong Kong residents. To be eligible for the public offer, you need to register on the insurer’s website or mobile app. For AXA each applicant can register up to 4 family members (spouse and children); whereas for Prudential all co-living children get automatically covered when an adult registers. AXA covers persons up to age 65 while there are no age limits specified in other offers.

How long is the coverage?

It is worth noting that the validity period of the free coverage varies quite significantly. AXA and Zurich offer one-year coverage from the date of successful application. AIA and FTLife cover until the end of this year. Bupa covers till 30 September. We may want to note that many offers are valid till end of June and we don’t know if insurers will extend the offers. Given the current COVID-19 vaccination rate is still around 20% of the Hong Kong population, a longer coverage period can ensure more people can be covered.

Which vaccines are covered?

There are differences in how insurers define covered vaccines. Most of the insurers are covering vaccines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the Hong Kong health authorities. AIA and FTLife also cover Hepatitis B and influenza vaccines on top of COVID-19 vaccines. On the other hand, BOC Life, Chubb, Prudential, YF Life, ZA and Zurich cover only COVID-19 vaccines provided or approved by the Hong Kong government.

From the insurer’s perspectives, it can be difficult to price the vaccine side effect coverage due to the limited data available. There is also concentration risk as a large proportion of the population get vaccinated within a short period of time. From the consumer’s perspective, although the coverage offered by insurance companies may be limited, it is free anyway hence should be a no brainer for those who plan to get the jabs. However, if you are concerned about your personal health regarding vaccination, you should seek medical advice. Hopefully with the help of the vaccines and other pandemic health measures, COVID-19 would be under control around the world by the end of the year, if not earlier.

The information above is provided by 10Life based on websites of individual insurance companies as of 26th May 2021. All information is for reference only and does not constitute any insurance sales advice. 
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