Chinese insurers have made initial payments to relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, even as Chinese officials questioned whether there was sufficient evidence to confirm the deaths.
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission issued an urgent notice requiring all insurers to offer fast-track compensation and assistance to relatives of policyholders who boarded the plane on March 8, the day the plane disappeared.
Li Bin, a lawyer with the Beijing Gaose Law Firm, said it wasn't appropriate for insurers to make payments because there had not been enough evidence to declare the passengers dead. "Their bodies were not found, and neither was the plane. Also, the Malaysian government confirmed that the plane crashed, but the Chinese side has yet to confirm," he said.
"If the passengers are missing, it could take a much longer time to confirm," he said.
Some Chinese insurers said they had not made payments pending the Chinese government's confirmation of the deaths, an industry insider said.
Ping An Insurance, with 53 clients on flight MH370, said it had paid 10.5 million yuan (HK$13.2 million) to 24 clients up to yesterday after the Malaysian government announced that the flight left no survivors.
The total payout for Ping An's clients is expected to be well above 10 million yuan, a company spokesman said.
China Life Insurance said payouts totalling 4.17 million yuan were made to seven families up to yesterday. The insurer said it had 32 clients with a total of 74 policies on board the Boeing 777. China Life said it expected the total insurance payout to be about 9 million yuan.
New China Life also said that it had started making payments, and expected that the total would be about 1 million yuan.
German insurer Allianz, with 10 clients on the plane, said it would continue to monitor the situation closely and provide assistance.