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HONG KONG: 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 three per cent, half the global average, are little changed from a decade ago.

Premiums in China are less than US$278 billion (RM878.4 billion) a year, way below the US$1.3 trillion paid in the United States and below even the United Kingdom’s US$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, 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.

Last year, Ping An offered another policy incentivising couples to marry in the 10 days leading up to this year’s November 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 China Daily newspaper reported.

In an emailed response to 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, Sunshine Insurance Group and Anbang Insurance Group also sold married couples “concubine-proof”, “red rose” and “rich flower” insurance policies.

For young children, there’s now insurance for recalled infant milk formula, and for little ones who get out of hand, People’s Insurance Group of China Co Ltd offers a policy against “mischievous and destructive” habits. The policy tagline: “Why not let us pay for the child’s fault?” — costs 44 yuan (RM22.60) and provides cover up to 100,000 yuan for 12 months.

Many insurers have latched on to this wave of creative policy marketing, with Ancheng, Ping An and ZhongAn, backed by Ping An and Internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, among the more aggressive.

During the recent soccer World Cup, Ancheng and ZhongAn offered policies allowing Chinese customers to pay for protection against over-drinking, being attacked by hooligans and a “Heartbreak” policy for when their favourite team was eliminated.

For the industry’s regulators, though, some of these policies skirt too close to a Chinese love of gambling. In June, the regulator said it would increase penalties for insurers selling products with “gambling or gaming” properties.

A policy has to offer “meaningful cover” and not just a financial bet, said Guanjun Jiang, a China-based Milliman actuary, adding that a WeChat group with about 100 actuaries and other professionals criticised the World Cup policies as “gimmicks” that didn’t adhere to the principles of insurance. Reuters

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