Insurance providers in China are using blockchain tech to fast track claims amid the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak, that has placed around 27 cities under lockdown. Xiang Hu Bao, the online mutual aid platform, added the coronavirus (covid-19) as a critical illness eligible for a one-time payout of 100,000 yuan (around $14,000 USD). Here’s how Chinese insurance firms are using blockchain for covid-19 claims. 

What is the coronavirus (covid-19)? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2019 Novel coronavirus (officially named covid-19) forms part of a family of viruses that cause various issues, from the common cold to SARS and MERS. They’re originally transmitted between animals and humans. For example, MERS is likely to have been transmitted from camels to people, and SARS from bats to people. 

The source of the 2019 Novel coronavirus (covid-19), is believed to have originated from a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, Hubei. Scientists are analyzing various wildlife samples, but the source hasn’t been found yet. It appears that the first infection came as a result of animal to human contact, and the virus then spread through human to human contact. 

The insurance claims 

Xiang Hu Bao, run by Ant Financial, is a collective claim-sharing mechanism built on a blockchain that offers health insurance to around 104 million users. It uses blockchain to speed up claim payments, reduce fraud, and is available on Alipay, the main mobile payments app in mainland China. 

Xiang Hu Bao has now added the coronavirus (covid-19) to its list of 100 critical illnesses. The payout will be funded from Ant Financial’s capital, separate from the 300,000 yuan payout that Xiang Hu Bao participants are entitled to for the other critical illnesses. 

Xiang Hu Bao has been able to process claims and make payouts to participants quicker, due to the decentralised, trust-free nature of blockchain technology,” an Ant Financial spokesman said. “Claim applicants can submit their supporting documents as evidence while investigation firms can get immediate access to them on the blockchain. All parties involved can see the entire process.

All medication and health care services associated with the outbreak will be paid for by the government’s basic medical insurance plan, so the Xiang Hu Bao payout will likely go to cover other expenses linked to the virus. 

Other Chinese insurance firms are also using blockchain for coronavirus (covid-19) claims. In Hong Kong, Blue Cross Insurance said it would help to alleviate pressure on health services by reducing the time spent on back-end data verification. 

Our blockchain-backed claims service has played a key role during the outbreak of the coronavirus by totally eliminating the paper process and the need for back-and-forth documents delivery to clinics,” stated Patrick Wan, Blue Cross’s managing director. “This really helps to mitigate the risk of infection from face-to-face contact.” 

Blockchain can change things for the better 

The coronavirus (covid-19) has caused enough tension and anxiety for Chinese citizens already. Now, Chinese insurance firms are also using blockchain for coronavirus (covid-19) claims, which will reduce the time spent on each claim, and help alleviate some of the stress associated with the illness. Blockchain can help in so many ways, and times like these really show the potential of the technology. 

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