More Chinese tourists going abroad inevitably means that more and more will encounter unfortunate accidents, some of which may result in injury or death. However, the severity of these incidents seems to be decreasing, at least according to a report by the travel insurance provider Allianz Worldwide Partners and Peking University researchers (text in Chinese). The report estimates that the overall frequency of accidents for Chinese trips abroad will inch up 2.5 percent to reach around 29 percent overall. The vast majority of “accidents” Allianz refers to are relatively mundane, usually involving travel delays.

And while the report projects that Chinese travelers will experience more accidents, the number of life-threatening accidents is fortunately expected to decline.

The frequency of accidents on trips made by Chinese outbound travelers is expected to grow to 29 percent

While the likelihood that a Chinese tourist will get hurt or face life-threatening circumstances is still small, an alarmingly large number of Chinese tourists are injured or killed every year while abroad. According to China’s foreign ministry, almost 700 Chinese travelers died overseas in 2017. Approximately a third of these deaths were related to water-based activities, particularly swimming and snorkeling. Part of the issue is that many Chinese citizens simply do not know how to swim and aren’t aware of the potential risks. Drowning is the top killer of children under the age of 14. Excluding flooding and boating accidents, around 60,000 people in China drown every year, and around 70 percent of the victims are children.

Still, many of the most tragic accidents involving Chinese tourists have nothing to do with safety consciousness. The most high-profile recent example was the death of 32 tourists in North Korea. These travelers had hoped to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War in 1953.

The majority accidents associated with claims involve delays, although claims for medical treatment are the second most common

Fortunately, the vast majority of the accidents Allianz is concerned with involve delays associated with transit, with claims for medical treatment coming in second. Allianz expects that claims associated with injury and financial losses to decline.

Given the large number of relatively inexperienced Chinese travelers going abroad for the first time, it may be a pragmatic decision for them to purchase travel insurance to hedge against potential risks. Moreover, given that the number of outbound Chinese tourists is continuing to grow at a brisk pace, the Chinese market could prove to be very lucrative for Allianz and its competitors.

Still, the industry has some challenges ahead in promoting such products, at least according to Allianz’s own report. Of the consumers surveyed for the report who did not purchase travel insurance and asked why, 25 percent of respondents felt the process for settling an insurance claim was too complex and 30 percent simply had little or no confidence in the product.


Travel Trends