Regulator calls foul onWorld Cup ‘regret’ insurance
The insurance regulatory body on Thursday halted the sale of insurance products that carry a whiff of lottery at a time when many consumers are pressing their luck on the ongoingWorld Cup.
In an announcem e n t released on its official website, theChina Insurance Regulatory Commission said it has banned insurers from developing and selling products that exhibit characteristics of gambling or chance, reiterating that insurance products must strictly adhere to the country’s Insurance Law.
Shortly before the global soccer event debuted, Chongqing-based Ancheng Property & Casualty Insurance Co Ltd started selling so-called “World Cup regret” insurance at its Tmall store, which is the B2C platform of Alibaba GroupHolding Ltd. The insurance products, which sold for 8 yuan ($1.20) apiece, held that if a team was eliminated in a certain round, the buyer would be entitled to a claim of up to 49 yuan.
On Thursday, no World Cup-related insurance product could be found in Ancheng’s Tmall store. According toHuangXiao, general manager of Ancheng’s e-commerce department, the company stopped selling the products on Wednesday. But he would not say whether that action was related to the regulatory body’s latest policy.
Still available on Tmall, however, were World Cup-related products offered by Shanghai-based Zhong An Insurance Co Ltd. If a consumer buys its “getting drunk” insurance for 3 yuan and has an alcohol-related incident duringWorld Cup play, he will receive 200 yuan for an emergency call and 2,000 yuan toward hospitalization expenses. The “night owl” insurance, also for 3 yuan, provides the same compensation for an acute upper respiratory infection during the games. And the “soccer hooligan” insurance offers the same compensation if the buyer gets robbed or physically hurt during the games.
The products from Zhong An seem popular: Each one has received at least 300 orders in the past few days, with some getting more than 1,000.
According to Ge Ruichao, director of the finance department of Taobao, a popular onlinemarketplace of Alibaba, Taobao only serves as a platform on which insurers can sell their products. All they can do ismake sure that everything sold on Taobao is legal.
But he added that various kinds of insurance products sold online will go a long way toward educating consumers about the essence and value of insurance, as every product sold online is displayed with user reviews.
“But it will take some time before the majority of consumers can accept and understand the new products introduced to them,” he said.
Mark Bain, director of KPMGChina, said that a regulatory agenda that focuses on protecting consumers and improving the range of products available on direct sales channels in both the life and general insurance sectors has helped improve customer experience in China.
“Insurance-buying decisions are increasingly influenced by ‘peer review’ on the Web and social channels,” Bain said, “which, in turn, creates new opportunities for insurers to differentiate themselves.”