'Good Samaritans' offered insurance from extortion

‘Helping Elderly Insurance’ can provide 20,000 yuan ($3,100) for legal costs

Beijing, October 19

A Chinese insurer is offering payouts for people accused of causing injuries while helping elderly people in trouble, state media said today, after a string of 'Good Samaritans' faced fines.

The ‘Helping Elderly Insurance’ launched last week can provide 20,000 yuan ($3,100) for legal costs in such cases, Xinhua reported.

It comes after a string of incidents in which well-intentioned individuals helped elderly people, only to end up subjected to accusations or blackmail. Hence, many Chinese bystanders are reluctant to step in when they see people in trouble.

In one instance in 2009, a man who came to aid of an elderly woman was ordered to pay 100,000 yuan on the grounds that he would not have helped if he was not responsible.

The insurance product was launched on Alipay, a platform owned by Chinese internet giant Alibaba, with a premium of just three yuan annually, Xinhua said.

It has already attracted 26,000 users, it reported, adding that: “Some have called the insurance a marketing ploy.”

It cited Alipay as saying that the product aims to ‘promote a helpful spirit and kindness in society’.

A commentary in state-run newspaper the Qianjiang Evening News called Alibaba ‘a pioneer in tackling the moral crisis commercially’.

As per a copy of product’s terms and conditions, insurance firm behind scheme, Sinosafe, will carry out an investigation into alleged incidents before paying out.

The product appeared to have launched a bout of online soul-searching, with many seeing it as a reflection of declining moral standards.

“What has happened to society?” asked one online poster. “You have to buy insurance for doing a good deed.”