china-shanghai-smogTravelers going to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xian, Chengdu and Harbin for less than one week can now buy a Smog Insurance to be compensated in case the smog is so thick that it would ruin their trip. The metric for air pollution would be the local Pollution Index and if it goes above a certain level, then customers would be entitled to compensation.

The information is available to all via the Internet or Mobile Phones, so the travel agency can’t manipulate them. However, the compensation threshold is different depending on where you travel to. It could be as low as 100 for Shanghai and Guangzhou, 150 for Chengdu and Harbin, and 200 for Beijing and Xi’an.

This kind of insurance for tourists seem crazy, but recent reports suggest that air pollution is one of the main reason why Chinese residents are leaving their city or country, so this is no small matter. TimesofIndia reports that companies like Panasonic now offer “smog compensation” to its workers.

The insurance policy is offered by Ping An, but don’t expect to be refunded for an international trip: the insurance pays 300 Yuan, which is about $48.2 at today’s rate – keep in mind that Chinese from other regions represent the majority of the tourists in China’s big cities. If you feel like it, a free lungs and globalvoices reports that otolaryngological (ear, nose and other head cavities) check is offered if the pollution level goes above 300.

Looking at user comments on various sites, it seems like this insurance is met with skepticism. Some believe that this is a marketing ploy to attract tourists to places with “better air”, while others think that it may be a gimmick. One thing is for sure: the insurance company has probably done the math and expects to make a good profit out of this. [photo courtesy of theboldcorsicanflame]

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