Hong Kong’s new bridge: what might this mean for your car insurance coverage?

hong kong's new bridge to Zhuhau and Macau under construction

The new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is expected to be completed this month. Set to be the world’s longest sea bridge, it links Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macau via 55km of raised road and undersea tunnels. What would previously had been a three hour travel time will be cut to just 30 minutes, further connecting the cities in the Pearl River Delta without impacting the busy shipping lanes of the Lindingyang channel. While people temper their excitement for the opening of the new roadway, some might be asking: how will Hong Kong’s new bridge work with my car insurance?

This week, Kwiksure examines how this new superstructure might affect car coverage.

The world’s longest sea bridge

Work on what will become one of the world’s longest bridges began in December 2009. At a cost of RMB 110 billion, the main bridge stretches across 29.6km with a 22.9km raised section, and a 6.7km underground tunnel. Around 420,000 tonnes of steel was used in its construction, enough to build 60 Eiffel Towers, as well as 1.08 million cubic meters of cement. The bridge has been dubbed the “most technologically complicated” structure of its kind due to the length and level of sea traffic it spans above.

a satellite map of the hong kong zhuhai macau bridge

This map shows Hong Kong in the east, and Macau and Zhuhai in the west. The new bridge spans Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region, Macau’s Special Administrative Region, and Zhuhai’s own Special Economic Zone, effectively making it a bridge that sits within three separate border-controlled territories. Border crossing areas are present at the ends of each point of the bridge’s Y shape, with Hong Kong’s own facility set to be placed on reclaimed land at the bridge’s start point by the airport.

Challenges for drivers planning to use the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge

An undertaking of this size is no mean feat, and understanding how each territory is set to interact with the roadway is just as complex. Here are a few things you’ll need to consider if you’re planning on being a user of Hong Kong’s new bridge.

Which side to drive on?

In China, drivers use the right side of the road. In Hong Kong and Macau, the left side is driven on. In an article written earlier this year by the Hong Kong Free Press, it was said that the Hong Kong government had considered making switching lanes to match the Mainland compulsory at the local entrance to the new bridge. While no decision appears to have been made public yet on how the switch will occur, one site has considered the innovative use of a flipper bridge.

Will there be public or private transport options available for the bridge?

There is an expectation that the new bridge will greatly enhance tourism for all three areas, with taxis and private tour coaches believed to be future high-users of the road. There was previously an idea to attach a rail link underneath the car road of the bridge, however the plans were abandoned due to a lack of rail infrastructure at any of the bridge’s entry points.

An alternative idea is that coach and passenger vehicles will have one of the man-made islands with which to deposit and exchange passengers between the three special regions. The Hong Kong Airport itself has planned to provide a shuttle bus service for passengers flying into the SAR, but with intentions to carry on through to the Mainland. A purpose-made customs center for arrival passengers planning on using the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge is currently in the works for HKD 3 billion.

Who manages emergencies and safety on the bridge?

While the immigration processes to be implemented once the new bridge is in operation have been discussed, there is little information at this stage to say how the roadway will be policed, and how emergencies will be handled. Unlike the border crossing in Shenzhen where the border crossing is relatively short, the bridge will leave more than 20km of road across open sea where it falls neither within Hong Kong, Macau, or Zhuhai’s jurisdiction.

There may be a fair argument to make that, technically, whichever authority looks after boats in the same area could also police the bridge, the main problem is that cars are not water vessels. Even this Legislative Council paper shows a map where the Immigration Department’s responsibility ends at the HKSAR boundary. At this stage, there is not enough information to state how the bridge will be policed.

How much will it cost to use the bridge?

In order to recoup costs, the bridge will be a toll-way. As of December 13, 2017, the exact amount drivers will pay to use the bridge has not been decided. However, in early December provisional tolls were published. According to the SCMP, tolls will be: 

  • HKD 177 for private cars
  • HKD 70 to HKD 136 for trucks/goods vehicles and lorries/container trucks
  • HKD 530 for shuttle buses
  • HKD 235 to HKD 530 for cross-border busses

The Guangdong government has the final say in the tolls and is currently conducting a review and public hearing before deciding on the final tolls.  

How will my car insurance coverage be affected on the bridge?

Until the bridge has been completed, it’s still difficult to say what coverage you may have driving from one administrative region to another on the new bridge. Driving to another country, such as China, can come with a different set of insurance and driving rules. In fact, we wrote about what you need to know about driving between China and Hong Kong earlier this year. China, like Hong Kong, has mandatory third-party insurance laws, which means that you’ll need at least that if you’re driving to the Mainland via the new bridge.

Without it, you’ll find that Hong Kong car insurance coverage will usually only provide coverage for damage to your own vehicle if you drive it legally in China or elsewhere. Third-party coverage for foreign parties is often not something car insurers in Hong Kong will consider. The bright side is that the Insurance Association of China released new terms for motor insurance plans that can include coverage for the Mainland and other countries as necessary. If you’re going to be frequently driving in both regions, securing such a plan would be a smart idea.

high shot of a man made island reclaimed for the hong kong zhuhai macau link and new bridge

How can I ensure I have the right coverage early?

The best thing you can do is to contact an experienced car insurance coverage broker who can help. Kwiksure has been delivering solid advice and insurance to Hong Kong motorists for decades, and can work with you to find the right sort of coverage for your driving needs. With motorists expected to be able to use the new Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge by next year, make sure you’re ready by discussing your driving needs with one of our helpful advisors.

For a free quote, contact us today!

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