A Chinese news app is again launching new health insurance products on its platform, only months after previous promotions were deleted, according to an investigation by a media outlet.
On July 18, Toutiao – a news and information content platform and a core product of the Beijing-based company Bytedance Technology – wired a marketing notice to users that various kinds of insurance products were now available for purchase online, the Paper reported.
Previously on January 7, the company deleted all health insurance products provided by Taikang Online Property and Casualty Insurance, one of which was a top product which claimed to provide clients and their families with comprehensive medical and critical illness protection.
Taikang at that time said that both Toutiao and the company wanted to enhance user experience and would need to delay the sales of the product until a sufficient investigation had been conducted.
According to the Paper, the number of new insurance products this time are not limited to Taikang. Products from other industry players such as Asia-Pacific Property & Casualty Insurance and Allianz China Life Insurance were also introduced.
It is still not known whether it is legal for insurance companies sell their products online via mobile application like Toutiao.
According to regulations, an eligible third-party network platform for channelling or marketing products should not receive any punishments imposed by government authorities such as China’s Ministry of Industry and Information, or the State Administration for Industry in the past two years.
However, Toutiao has received penalties twice, in 2017 and 2018, creating concern whether consumer’s rights could be ensured if products are bought via the platform.
The relaunch of the comprehensive medical and critical illness insurance product by Taikang came with different upper limits than that of the same product that had been retracted in January, with the maximum coverage cut by half to 3 million Chinese yuan ($44 million) if a malignant tumor was diagnosed, for example.
The travel insurance provided by the Asia-Pacific Property & Casualty Insurance also came with terms and conditions that were reportedly ambiguous.
Customers were reminded to read the terms and conditions of the products thoroughly prior to the purchase.