Travelers not sold on insurance cover

By Liang Qiwen (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-16 06:57

More Chinese are traveling, both within the country and abroad. But only 10 percent take out insurance to cover their overseas trips - and that figure is less than 1 percent for domestic travelers.

Last year alone, 1.39 billion Chinese traveled at least once, with 34.5 million going abroad, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"If we're just talking about outbound travelers, about 10 percent bought travel insurance. But in terms of domestic tourists, less than 1 percent took out insurance," said Daniel Cheung, vice-president of the Travel Insurance Division at Greater China AIU Insurance Company (AIG).

AIG entered the travel insurance market in 2004.

"We've found surprisingly few Chinese have the foresight to take out insurance before they travel," Cheung said.

The company has also found that a lot of local insurers aren't interested in the travel sector.

In developed countries, it's a different story. In Japan, 87 percent of travelers buy insurance before they take a trip.

AIG holds a 75 percent share of the insurance business for outbound travelers in Shanghai.

Depending on the level of cover, AIG's travel insurance can cost anywhere from 10 yuan to more than 100 yuan.

It will pay out over 1 million yuan in compensation if an insured traveler dies on a trip.

But Cheung said many Chinese travelers prefer to trust in luck and think they will lose money if they don't have any cause to make a claim.

Many insurers are staying out of the travel sector because it's too disorderly, according to Lu Jianming, manager of the Guangdong branch of China Life Insurance (Group) Co.

Lu said it is important for insurers to build networks with travel agents.

Travel agents initially took commission of 8 percent, but now many have bumped this up to over 20 percent, he said. And this, according to Lu, has seen many local insurers pulling out because it's not profitable.


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