Sichuan to try quake insurance programme

Sichuan to try quake insurance programme
Ruins caused by an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2013.

Fu Mingquan, a resident of Longmen, Sichuan province, was glad to learn that earthquake insurance covering houses would be available on a trial basis in areas prone to quakes.

Under the programme, residents can buy insurance - paying up to a maximum 60,000 yuan (S$12,804) for rural residents and 150,000 yuan for urban residents - if their houses are destroyed in a major earthquake.

"The policy may mitigate the shortage of funds for post-quake housing reconstruction," said Fu, a 51-year-old restaurant owner, after learning details of the programme that were uploaded to the website of the Sichuan provincial government on Monday evening.

Longmen, Fu's hometown, was the epicenter of the magnitude-7.0 Lushan earthquake that killed 196 people and injured 12,614 on April 20, 2013.

To encourage farmers to make their own efforts to rebuild houses damaged in the quake, the provincial government provided subsidies. A household of one to three people received 26,000 yuan; those with four to five people received 29,000 yuan; and households of six or more people received 32,000 yuan.

Priority for insurance will be given to areas considered prone to earthquakes by the China Earthquake Administration. Both urban and rural residents can buy the insurance, which will cover houses damaged in a magnitude-5 or higher earthquake by debris flow, landslide, ground subsidence or fissure, burial, fire, volcano or explosion within 72 hours.

Although the information about the trial programme did not say how much the insurance premiums would cost, it said that local governments at different levels will pay 60 per cent and individual buyers will pay the rest.

It suggests compensation levels of 20,000, 40,000 and 60,000 yuan for a rural house and 50,000, 100,000 and 150,000 yuan for an urban house. The insurance is in effect for one year and is renewable.

"Sichuan formulated the programme because it is prone to earthquakes," said Hao Yuenan, an information officer with the provincial government.

On May 12, 2008, a magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck Wenchuan county in Sichuan, killing 69,226 people and leaving 17,923 missing. Houses needed to be rebuilt for 5.3 million households.

huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

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