Couples take an escalator as they participate in a staged mass wedding, organised as part of a matchmaking event to inspire singles to get married, at a suburban area of Shanghai. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files
Your child throws a tantrum and smashes something? Take out
"naughty child insurance". Similarly, buy cover against your
bride becoming pregnant before the honeymoon, your team being
knocked out of the soccer World Cup, burning your tongue
eating hotpot or if smog ruins your holiday.
Quirky, maybe, but China's insurers are turning to ever more
creative ways to drum up business in a market where growth
has stalled and penetration rates of around 3 percent, half
the global average, are little changed from a decade ago.
Premiums in China are less than $278 billion a year, way
below the $1.3 trillion paid in the United States and below
even the UK's $330 billion, according to Munich Re and Swiss
"It's consumer acquisition, a way to engage new customers,"
said Joseph Ngai, who heads the Greater China financial
institutions practice at McKinsey in Hong Kong. "It's
While most of these policies are short-term promotions, they
offer insight into daily concerns in the world's
most-populous nation - such as marriage and children.
Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd , the world's
second-biggest life insurer by market value, has offered an
"Accidental Pregnancy Before Honeymoon" policy to cover the
cost of having to unexpectedly cancel a honeymoon. It also
offered a payout just to wives in the case of divorce, and
another policy, akin to an investment plan, that paid out -
after a certain period - if a couple stayed together, local
and state media have reported.
Last year, Ping An offered another policy incentivising
couples to marry in the 10 days leading up to this year's
Nov. 11 "Singles Day". The policies, which went on sale at
midnight and included 12-month membership to an online
matchmaking site, sold out in 10 minutes, the official China
Daily newspaper reported.
In an emailed response to Reuters for this article, Ping An
Property & Casualty said it seeks to "solve or alleviate
real life problems." While it still sells "innovative"
products, it said it is no longer offering pregnancy,
marriage and singles insurance.
Sino-Life Group Ltd, Sunshine Insurance Group and Anbang
Insurance Group also sold married couples "concubine-proof",
"red rose" and "rich flower" insurance policies, according to
the China Daily and the companies' websites.
For young children, there's now insurance for recalled infant
milk formula, and for little ones who get out of hand
People's Insurance Group of China Co Ltd (PICC) offers a
policy against "mischievous and destructive" habits. The
policy - tagline: "Why not let us pay for the child's fault?"
- costs 44 yuan ($7.16) and provides cover up to 100,000 yuan
for 12 months.
Chongqing-based Ancheng sells a similar policy in three
different versions, with parents of the naughtiest children
paying 116 yuan for a 5,000 yuan payout.
Many insurers have latched on to this wave of creative policy
marketing, with Ancheng, Ping An and ZhongAn, backed by Ping
An and internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent
Holdings Ltd, among the more aggressive.
WORLD CUP "HEARTBREAK"
During the recent soccer World Cup in Brazil, Ancheng and
ZhongAn offered policies allowing Chinese customers to pay
for protection against over-drinking, being attacked by
hooligans and a "Heartbreak" policy for when their favourite
team was eliminated. Uptake wasn't huge, but the policies
succeeded in winning plenty of media coverage.
For the industry's regulators, though, some of these policies
skirt too close to a Chinese love of gambling. In June, the
regulator said it would increase penalties for insurers
selling products with "gambling or gaming" properties.
A policy has to offer "meaningful cover" and not just a
financial bet, said Guanjun Jiang, a China-based Milliman
actuary, adding that a WeChat group with about 100 actuaries
and other professionals criticized the World Cup policies as
"gimmicks" that didn't adhere to the principles of insurance.
ZhongAn confirmed it sold the World Cup over-drinking and
hooligan policies. Ancheng did not respond to requests for
Other attention-grabbing tactics cover Chinese cultural
events. Ancheng has a policy covering any medical costs
resulting from burns while eating hotpot, a Chinese tradition
involving cooking raw meat and vegetables in a boiling pot of
soup placed at the centre of the table.
Other Ping An and PICC policies - which were quickly shut
down by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission - paid out
if city smog levels topped a certain level for a specified
period, if customers were hospitalized due to smog, or if
tourists spent at least two days in a smoggy city.
And foreign insurers, too, have tried their luck.
During last year's Mid-Autumn Festival, Germany's Allianz
teamed up with Alibaba's Taobao insurance to guarantee
sightings of the full moon, paying out between 50 and 188
yuan - and in some cases a pack of moon cakes - if bad
weather obscured the view.