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Insurers Pay 1.6 Bln Yuan for Snow-related Damages

Insurance firms in China have paid 1.6 billion yuan (US$224 million) in damages in central and eastern China as a result of the worst snowfall in half a century.

The insurance sector has received nearly one million claims for damages compensation, the disaster relief and emergency command center under the State Council said late on Monday.

Earlier the month, Wu Dingfu, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said Chinese insurers are expected to pay a total 3.52 billion yuan (US$493 million) in damages to the snow-hit regions.

The unprecedented snowfall has caused 111.1 billion yuan in direct financial losses, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said earlier this month. The power generating and transmission sector, agriculture and forestry were among the worst-hit.

By February 1, insurance firms had paid 350 million yuan (US$48.6 million), with most of the sum going to Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said Wu.

Power firms, which were worst hit by the snowfall, are expected to receive up to one billion yuan (US$139 million), accounting for 30 percent of all claims.

Wu said major insurers such as PICC, China Life and Ping An, have all launched emergency plans and are offering more flexible treatment.

The severe winter weather, which hit 21 provinces and regions, had claimed 129 lives and destroyed 485,000 houses. An estimated 1.66 million people have lost their homes and were living in temporary shelters.

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2008)

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