Hong Kong’s expat drivers are more likely to claim against their car insurance than locals.
Research shows that almost double the number of expat motorists make claims compared to locals behind the wheel.
A lack of driving experience on the narrow and crowded roads is blamed as most expats do not have to take a driving test before applying for a licence in the city.
Motor insurer Kwiksure, who reported the figures, explained more Hong Kong locals make car insurance claims, but as a percentage of policies held compared to expats, they fewer claims.
In 2012, Kwiksure received 1,303 claims from locals against 40,369 policies, while expats made 332 claims against just 6,039 car insurance policies.
So far this year, locals have made 314 claims against 78 by expats.
The firm suggests expats are much more likely to have a traffic accident during their first years in the city as they are new to Hong Kong’s culture behind the wheel of a car.
“The streets are very congested in Hong Kong. The roads are not very wide and parking in small places can be a problem. Most drivers here do not signal when changing lanes,” said Kwiksure manager Ken Chung.
“Also, many expat drivers here are used to driving on the other side of the road in the country where they come from, which just adds to the problems.”
Expat drivers in Hong Kong from specific countries do not have to take a driving test to take a vehicle on the roads in the city, providing they have a licence from their home country. Expats in the country for less than 12 months are also exempt from the test.
Crash course online
Joining and leaving roundabouts is a problem for many expat drivers who do not understand the etiquette here,” said Chung. “Our experience with claims would also suggest many local drivers fail to observe the rules as well, which is probably because negotiating a roundabout is not covered in the driving test.”
Another issue is roadside signage. Hong Kong has a system of signs that differs from most other countries, which can be confusing for foreign drivers.
The Hong Kong Traffic Department web site does have tips for drivers with images of signs and graphics showing how to negotiate common driving manoeuvres.
Expats can take a crash course by going to the site – and can also view live web casts of traffic at major busy spots.