Chinese companies offer smog insurance

Chinese companies have offered up a fresh idea to help pollution-weary travellers while cashing in on public concerns over dirty air at the same time - smog insurance.

The country's top online travel agency and the leading insurer Ping An have "started to sell haze travel insurance", the China Daily reported.

The fresh idea comes as popular frustration mounts over the dense smog that frequently cloaks wide swathes of the country, prompting national leaders to confront the issue after years of downplaying it.

In the insurance scheme, in exchange for premiums of 10 to 15 yuan (S$2 to S$3), Ctrip and Ping An have promised to cough up as much as 50 yuan a day to travellers subjected to hazardous skies, AFP reported.

Terms and conditions apply - for example, the tourist must have booked a tour through Ctrip lasting three to seven days.

The insurance so far covers only six major cities, where standards vary.

In Beijing and Xian, a popular tourist site home to the ancient Terracotta Warriors, the air pollution index will have to top 200 on a specific mobile phone app.

In the north-eastern city of Harbin and in Chengdu in the south-west the minimum index is 150, and for Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou, 100.

Air quality readings in those cities often exceed those figures.

But despite the seemingly favourable odds, a few frequent travellers did not seem convinced.

"The premium does not go directly to tackle the heavily polluted air. I would like the money to be put to better use," sales representative Tian Yiyi told the China Daily.

Mr Qian Yigang, a technician, told the paper: "People travel around for fun. If their mood is upset by poor atmospheric conditions, it cannot be rewound or fixed by money."

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