Chinese insurer offers Beijing residents cover against smog

Cars drive on the second ring road amid the heavy haze in Beijing February 21, 2014. A state-owned Chinese insurer will offer residents of Beijing insurance cover against health risks caused by air pollution, promising to pay out 1,500 yuan (S$307) t
Cars drive on the second ring road amid the heavy haze in Beijing February 21, 2014. A state-owned Chinese insurer will offer residents of Beijing insurance cover against health risks caused by air pollution, promising to pay out 1,500 yuan (S$307) to policy holders hospitalised by smog. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A state-owned Chinese insurer will offer residents of Beijing insurance cover against health risks caused by air pollution, promising to pay out 1,500 yuan (S$307) to policy holders hospitalised by smog.

The policy, available for 10-50 year olds, will also pay out 300 yuan when the city's official smog index exceeds 300 for five consecutive days, a level considered "hazardous", according to a notice posted on the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) website (www.epicc.com.cn).

Beijing's official air quality index (AQI), which measures airborne pollutants including particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, routinely exceeds 300, and sometimes hits levels higher than 500.

The capital is on the frontline of a "war on pollution" that Premier Li Keqiang declared earlier this month in a major policy speech. Beijing is choked by traffic and surrounded by the big and heavily polluted industrial province of Hebei.

Last month, the city's environmental protection bureau issued an air pollution "yellow alert" for the first time, triggering a series of emergency measures to reduce dust from roads and construction sites.