The terrible consequence of China’s road injury policy
Car insurance was made compulsory in China just over a decade ago - nearly 70 years after the UK government established it as a cultural norm. Despite the legislation, many drivers in China still choose to drive uninsured.
And - unlike in the UK, where we have the Motor Insurance Bureau to protect motorists from costs incurred by uninsured drivers - if you cause injury to another person while driving uninsured, you're responsible for that person's medical bills.
When you consider that ongoing care for someone severely injured can run into the millions, that is a huge, huge deterrent.
Or is it?
When policy goes wrong
As a result of this well-intended but incredibly heavy penalty facing motorists (whether you believe they deserve it or not), a truly horrific situation has arisen. Several cases have been reported in which a motorist has hit a pedestrian - and then GONE BACK TO FINISH THE JOB. One driver ran over a 2 year old girl several times to make sure she was dead.
Rather than face the financially ruinous costs of looking after the injured person, people are making sure the charge has an end point. A one-off cost, instead of a lifetime of healthcare expenses.
Although no action would be enough to repair the emotional and physical damage that hitting someone with your car causes, this monumental cost is having the opposite effect to the one intended. When faced with financial ruin, desperate people take desperate measures, even risking prison.
This is why car insurance is so important
Insurance protects us against the massive cost of causing injury to another person. Long-term care for someone who is paralysed or has lost a limb is an unimaginable expense - think mulit-million pound medical bills - and could ruin even a well-off person.
Yes, we have the Motor Insurance Bureau - but that body is funded by a levy on insurers and that means a levy on us as consumers. Uninsured drivers put our premiums up by around £30 a year according to MoneySuperMarket.
Although you can never really get over causing harm to someone (through your own fault or not), having insurance at least lets you take care of that person. China's awful situation should remind us what we're paying for.