Tantrums, concubines, hotpot burns and smog: China insurers have it covered
By Clare Baldwin and Diana Chan
HONG KONG (Reuters) - 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 Re data.
"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 primarily marketing."
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 (601318.SS: Quote) (2318.HK: Quote), 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 incentivizing 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 8296.HK, 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. Continued...