State-run Insurance Company of China, Ping An Insurance announced on 20 March 2014 to offer Smog Insurance to tourists in six heavily polluted Chinese cities. These cities Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xian, Chengdu and Harbin. For this, the Company has partnered with the online travel agency Ctrip International.
Main features of the Smog Insurance
• The smog insurance being offered by the company will pay the tourists and residents who are plagued by the smog.
• The payment will be made to the tourists when the air quality index (AQI) exceeds set levels for two days in a row. The compensation would be offered on the basis of AQI.
• It would be given to tourists in Xi'an and Beijing if they suffer two consecutive days of the air pollution index exceeding 200. The standard is 150 for Harbin and Chengdu and 100 for Guangzhou and Shanghai.
• If pollution exceeds the charts as was happened in 2013 in the northern city of Shijiazhuang for several days, policy holders can compete for a free trip to the subtropical island of Hainan to clear their lungs.
• Buyers of smog health insurance will have to pay a premium of 100 yuan(16 US dollars) and receive medical examinations to check their lung functions when the AQI exceeds 300 for five consecutive days.
Steps taken in China to tackle air pollution
• On 18 March 2014, the People's Insurance Company (Group) of China Ltd., the nation's largest insurer, also launched an insurance policy to compensate the residents of Beijing made ill by air pollution with up to 1800 yuan.
• On 17 March 2014, State Council of China pledged to make sure that 60 percent of its cities meet national pollution standards by 2020.
• In the second week of March 2014, Panasonic offered smog compensation to its workers.
• New devices and air filters have hit markets and certain schools are offering tuitions through the Internet during hazy days to deal with the problem.
• Chinese premier Li Keqiang has declared a war on pollution in light of lot of foreigners leaving the country because of heavy air pollution.
• China has already picked seven key regions to launch pilot carbon trading schemes with the intention of setting up a national market to cut emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.
• In 2013, China promised to cut the pollution released by industry by almost a third by 2017, and to spend 283 billion US dollars cleaning up Beijing and the surrounding area.
Chinese government assess the level of air pollution through AQI on a scale of 0 to 500. The higher the value of AQI, the more polluted the air and the greater the health concern. On the chart, 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health and over 300 is well within the hazardous range.
On the basis of AQI, only three of China's 74 major cities meet the national standards related to air pollution levels. These three cities are:
• Haikou, the capital of subtropical Hainan Island
• Zhoushan, on an archipelago south of Shanghai that consists of 1390 islands and 1.1 million inhabitants
• Lhasa, the capital of Tibet
When: 20 March 2014