Insurers have paid more than 100 million yuan ($13.9 million) in damages to people in central and eastern China where 55 have died because of the worst snowfall in almost half a century.
Industry figures show major insurers such as PICC, Ping An and China Pacific Insurance have launched emergency plans to make claim payments quicker and smoother.
"We're offering on-the-spot payments for losses below 3,000 yuan ($417)," PICC's business manager Jiang Caishi said yesterday.
Insurance firms have started round-the-clock phone services to answer emergency calls from people in any of the 14 provinces and regions, including Jiangsu, Fujian, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan.
Though a wide area is under the grip of the bad weather that has hit about 100 million people, the average loss has been comparatively low, industry insiders said.
"About 90 percent of the claims have been filed for damaged vehicles," a China Pacific Insurance (CPIC) manager said. "Most of losses in a single case have been less than 50,000 yuan."
Sunshine Property and Casualty Insurance vice-president Li Ke, however, said many cases could have remained unreported because heavy snow had disrupted communications networks in some places.
Most of the life insurance claims are for injuries after people slipped on ice and fell. Ping An's 13 branches had paid 53.8 million yuan ($7.48 million) for 18,752 claims.
But how big has been claim from the agriculture sector? Jiang said that since most of the farmers were prepared, they had taken some steps to minimize the damage. Perhaps that's why huge losses from the agriculture sector haven't been reported yet.
(China Daily January 31, 2008)