HKFI Issues Best Practice on Standardizing Underwriting Questionnaire for Individual Indemnity Hospital Insurance Plans


The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) today (6 October 2020) announces the issuance of the Best Practice on Standardizing Underwriting Questionnaire for Individual Indemnity Hospital Insurance Plans (Standardized Underwriting Questionnaire, SUQ).

Medical insurance is gaining popularity in the recent years. Individual Indemnity Hospital Insurance Plan (IHIP) on average grew by close to 150,000 policies each year and the number of persons covered has exceeded 2.8 million. In view of the increasing demand of the product and to facilitate onboarding of policy applicants, there is a need for a simple and defined underwriting questionnaire which applicants will find easy to comprehend and respond. The SUQ should also enable a streamlined distribution process regardless of channels and furnish insurers with the necessary information for underwriting purposes. And it is very much in line with the recommendations made by the Consumer Council in May 2019 on the development of medical insurance.

Against this background, the Medical Insurance Association (MedIA) under HKFI started the standardization exercise in early 2019 to lay down the guiding principles and design a standardized template by defining the scope of health-related information that consumers are obliged to disclose during IHIP applications. After rounds of consultation with Member Insurers and key stakeholders including the Insurance Authority (IA), VHIS Office and the Consumer Council, the SUQ is now finalized for insurers’ voluntary adoption, with the following key features:

  • Align the wording of all questions and define the maximum scope of questions that will be asked for the purpose of underwriting;

  • Use layman terms and simple formats – applicants are expected to answer “Yes / No” in most of the questions;

  • Clearly specify the information that needs to be disclosed. Applicants would only be required to provide supplementary information on a need basis;

  • Shorten and cap the disclosure timeframe at 5 years for most of the questions related to pre-existing conditions.

“The HKFI is dedicated to enhancing transparency, promoting good market practices and strengthening public confidence in insurance. The SUQ is another example of how the industry works together to achieve these goals and for the good of our customers,” said Ms Emily Li, Chairman of the Medical Insurance Association. “The SUQ is tailored in a way that all questions asked are within a reasonable scope and timeframe and man in the street will be able to answer with certainty and clarity.”

To encourage wider adoption of the SUQ, HKFI will provide appropriate training for intermediaries and strengthen public education.