HIGH NET-WORTH individuals have distinctive needs, ranging from chartering helicopters to take them to far-flung holiday homes to tailor-making financial plans that encompass their global investment portfolios. When it comes to insurance, the requirements are equally complicated - with coverage needed for anything from a yacht in the Caribbean to a Ming Dynasty furniture collection. Until now, Hong Kong's affluent have had to piece together coverage from various sources to protect their far-flung assets, and themselves. The company willing to underwrite a Porsche in Hong Kong, for example, would have been of little use insuring a holiday home in France that lies empty for more than two months of the year. In fact, according to research from the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, 90 per cent of Hong Kong's high net-worth individuals are under-insuring their homes and valuables or not insuring them at all. Chubb hopes to change this with the launch last week of its high-end Masterpiece product in the local market, an extension of its corporate services previously available here. 'This is a new product in Hong Kong, but it is not a new product for Chubb,' says chief executive Andre Dallaire. 'We have been very successful elsewhere in the world, mostly in the United States but also in Europe and other countries such as Australia. We are writing close to US$2 billion in premiums with this particular product worldwide.' Chubb started selling Masterpiece in the 1960s in the US where it holds a leading position in the market for high net-worth individuals, insuring more than 50 per cent of the country's Fortune 500 chief executives, almost 70 per cent of Forbes' 400 wealthiest individuals and 60 per cent of US collectors listed in ArtNews' Top 200 World Collectors. There are 500,000 clients in the Masterpiece portfolio, which make up 29 per cent of the Chubb book. 'People in Hong Kong who have large amounts of fine art or antiques, jewellery or collectibles to insure have had to go overseas, mostly to London, to find any type of coverage for these contents,' Mr Dallaire says. 'We are the first company to introduce this type of product in Hong Kong.' Experience has shown some peculiarities in the Hong Kong market, according to Jennifer Scally, Chubb's assistant vice-president and personal lines manager. 'People are very sensitive about disclosing their wealth to outsiders, particularly here. A lot of clients say: 'Please don't tell anyone about my assets'. Some ask for a dedicated, confidential e-mail or fax line,' she says. In the US, the typical Masterpiece client will have most value tied up in the structure of a US$10 million home, for example. In Hong Kong, many affluent people live in high-rise apartments that are insured as part of the building. It is what is in the apartment that needs coverage. 'In Hong Kong almost all the value is in the contents. I went to one 2,000-square-foot apartment with an art collection of more than 100 pieces worth HK$80 million,' Ms Scally says. 'Some people have museum-quality collections,' she adds. 'We actually have a client who loans items from his collection to museums worldwide. We have no problem providing that coverage.' The company employs an Asian art specialist in Hong Kong and has ties with auction houses to help clients appraise their collections or restore work that has been damaged. They will advise on keeping rooms temperature-controlled for storing wine or ensuring a valuable oil painting is not damaged by hanging it in direct sunlight. They also insure luxury vehicles from Ferraris to Rolls-Royces and furs, stamps or jewellery. On the personal side, Masterpiece gives worldwide cover for liabilities ranging from bodily injury to instances of false arrest, defamation of character or invasion of privacy not covered by off-the-rack policies. It will even pay up to HK$200,000 for kidnapping-related expenses, including the costs of hiring a private investigator or negotiator. With its network of 134 offices in 31 countries, Chubb is represented in most major cities. It boasts a superior level of service, pledging to make contact with the insured within 24 hours of being notified of a claim and paying within 48 hours of a claim being settled. 'Product is one thing, but it is the service that goes with the product as well. High net-worth individuals will expect a high level of service behind the product and Chubb is well-known [for that],' Mr Dallaire says. Masterpiece will be distributed through direct selling, brokers and agents and the company hopes to cultivate other channels such as private banks, asset managers and affinity groups. It has already received a number of inquiries in the pre-launch period and premiums vary depending on the coverage needed. 'The range of premiums we would charge on what we have seen recently would be from HK$20,000 a year to HK$300,000 or more,' Mr Dallaire says. 'It goes from someone who has one property in Hong Kong with not a large amount of fine art to a professional, serious collector with properties in Canada and Europe.'