China's debilitating smog problem isn't anything new at this point—at least for its residents. Tourists to Beijing, however, are still struggling with the fact that the sights they came for can often be virtually unseeable. To appease this growing group of angry travelers, China's biggest online travel agency now offers smog insurance.
The agency, Ctrip.com, collaborated with Ping An, one of China's leading insurance companies, on the various smog safeguard packages. For just about $1-2, anyone visiting Xian, Harbin, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or—the worst offender of all—Beijing is guaranteed a monetary return. There is a catch, though; you'll need to suffer at least two days of opaque pollution in a row to see any of that cash make its way back to your pocket.
Still, considering how awful China's smog problem has been of late, it's not a bad investment at all. You'll only be getting about $10 (50 Chinese yuan) back per day, but unfortunately, the chances of consecutive hazy skies (at least in Beijing) is a virtual guarantee. [China Daily via The Daily Mail]
Updated 3/25/14, 5:26 pm EDT:
Apparently, after having been up and running for barely a week, Ping An has decided to call of the insurance scheme altogether due to its "lottery-esque" terms. According to Hao Yansu, head of Central University of Finance and Economics' School of Insurance:
Insurance is all about probability … the current unavailability of scientific data on smog weather and smog-related diseases make the product suspicious, [such as] whether its premium is set too high. It does look like a lottery to some extent, especially considering its low charge.