'Good Samaritan' insurance offered in China

An insurance company is offering special coverage to cover the legal costs for good Samaritans who get blackmailed after helping people who appear to be in need.

In recent years, media stories have recounted how some senior citizens have sought compensation from those who have come to their aid, sometimes suggesting their helpers were actually responsible for knocking them down.

Sinosafe Insurance recently began offering the unusual insurance online through Alibaba-backed Alipay, China's leading third-party online payment provider. It currently covers 15 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangdong.

The annual insurance premium covers up to 20,000 yuan (S$4400) in legal costs.

Some online commenters have said that it's good that insurance can ease the potential financial pressure of warmhearted people who want to help those in need. However, others question whether it's an appropriate response to such blackmails.

A survey by Ying Feihu, a law professor at Shenzhen University, and reported in People's Daily on Friday, said there were 84 recorded cases of fallen seniors blackmailing those who sought to assist them between 2004 and October 2015.

With the help of surveillance and other technology, such blackmailing can be proven, he said, and laws to punish such blackmailers are urgently needed.