HONG KONG Dec 1 Mainland Chinese visitors
bought HK$18.8 billion ($2.42 billion) of insurance in Hong Kong
in the third quarter, more than double the amount in the same
period last year, as the yuan currency skidded to 8-1/2-year
Buying insurance products is a popular way for mainlanders
to skirt restrictions and get funds out of China as they worry
about further depreciation of the yuan and a slowing economy.
New insurance premiums from mainland visitors in the first
nine months of the year hit HK$48.9 billion, surpassing the
total for the whole of 2015, which stood at HK$31.6 billion.
Hong Kong government statistics showed on Thursday.
Mainland visitors' new premiums accounted for 37 percent of
the total new premiums for individual business, according to the
Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
New premiums paid by mainland visitors rose 11 percent in
the third quarter from the previous quarter and were up 1.6
times from the third quarter of 2015.
The yuan has lost 10 percent against the U.S. dollar since
Beijing unexpectedly devalued it on Aug. 11 last year.
Yuan selling intensified in November as the dollar
strengthened, prompting Chinese state banks to intervene in
recent sessions to stem the currency's slide.
A slew of investment banks have recently revised down their
forecasts of the yuan/dollar exchange rates in the coming year.
Worried by the risk of a surge in capital outflows, Chinese
regulators have stepped up a crackdown on legal and illegal
channels that allow money to be moved abroad.
China's biggest bank card provider UnionPay said at the end
of October that mainland customers were not allowed to use
UnionPay cards to buy any insurance products that include
investment-related contents in Hong Kong.
Market players say the tightening measure may start to
impact new insurance premiums from mainland visitors in the
($1 = 7.7557 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Michelle Chen; Editing by Kim Coghill)