A state-owned Chinese insurer will offer residents of Beijing insurance coverage against health risks caused by air pollution, promising to pay out 1,500 yuan ($240) to policy holders hospitalized by smog.
The policy, available for 10-50 year olds, will also pay out 300 yuan ($48.56) when the city's official smog index exceeds 300 for five consecutive days, a level considered "hazardous", according to a notice posted on the People's Insurance Company of China (PICC) website.
Beijing's official air quality index (AQI), which measures airborne pollutants including particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, routinely exceeds 300, and sometimes hits levels higher than 500.
A level above 300 is considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily level of no more than 20.
The capital is on the frontline of a "war on pollution" that Premier Li Keqiang declared earlier this month in a major policy speech. Beijing is choked by traffic and surrounded by the big and heavily polluted industrial province of Hebei.
Last month, the city's environmental protection bureau issued an air pollution "yellow alert" for the first time, triggering a series of emergency measures to reduce dust from roads and construction sites.
In January, Beijing's Mayor Wang Anshun pledged to cut coal use by 2.6 million tons and set aside 15 billion yuan (2.4 billion dollars) to improve air quality this year as part of the city's "all-out effort" to tackle air pollution, according to China's state news agency Xinhua
Coal-burning boilers inside Beijing's fifth ring road - covering the built-up area of the city - will be eliminated and measures taken against coal burning in the capital's periphery, Wang told Xinhua.
The city also aims to ban all heavily polluting vehicles this year, cut new car registrations and promote new energy vehicles, Wang said.
Beijing reported 58 days of serious pollution last year, or one every six to seven days on average, Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center told Xinhua.
China had shut down 8,347 heavily polluting companies last year in northern Hebei province, which has the worst air in the country, as the government moves to tackle a problem that has been a source of discontent, according to, Xinhua. Local authorities will block new projects and punish officials in regions where pollution is severe due to lax enforcement, Xinhua cited Yang Zhiming, deputy director of the Hebei provincial bureau of environmental protection, as saying.
( Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)