TIME

Traveling to China? Consider ‘Smog Insurance’

People wearing face masks visit Tiananmen Square as heavy air pollution shrouds Beijing on Feb. 26, 2014.
People wearing face masks visit Tiananmen Square as heavy air pollution shrouds Beijing on Feb. 26, 2014. Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images

China’s largest online travel agency and a top insurance firm will begin offering a little recourse to tourists who book certain packages to major cities that end up being ruined by the country's infamous haze

File this under “You know the air is bad when …” From tomorrow, China’s largest online travel agency and a top insurance firm will start selling smog insurance for travelers.

The “haze-travel insurance” package is a collaboration between China’s largest online travel company, Ctrip, and insurance giant Ping An, reports the state-backed China Daily. Tourists who book three- to seven-day package tours to certain major cities — Beijing, Xian, Harbin, Chengdu, Guangzhou — can opt in. And should they have the misfortune of spending two or more consecutive days in severe smog, they can file claims.

The air-pollution level will be based on readings from an air-pollution app by FreshIdeas. For Beijing and Xian, an air-quality index of 200 will qualify. Harbin and Chengdu max out at 150, Shanghai and Guangzhou at 100.

Based on recent weather conditions, the odds of a payout seem solid, the China Daily notes. From Feb. 16 to March 17, Shanghai experienced 17 days of air pollution over 100 on the index, and Beijing nine days over 200. But not all were consecutive by any means, and besides, the payout ain’t big. The haze-pollution premium is priced at either 10 yuan ($1.60) or 15 yuan ($2.40), with the daily compensation limit set at 50 yuan ($8). Considering that a Starbucks break in Beijing will cost you half of that, it’s hard to get excited.

Perhaps your cash would be better spent on a decent air mask. That, you will definitely use.

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