Bus drivers in the Chinese city of Jinghua have been issued a
spotter's guide that helps them identify badges on expensive
automobiles. The guide features logos and price tags for such
marques as Bugatti, Maybach, Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin and
The message to drivers: Don't hit the expensive stuff.
It's a start.
Chinese roads are believed to be the world's deadliest (See "
Has Mayhem met its match in China?
"), and its developing insurance system -- which has just invited
U.S. companies to enter the fray -- typically covers a driver's
liability only up to about $32,000.
That's just enough to cover a well-equipped version of the
best-selling Buick Excelle (sold in the U.S. as the Verano). But
China's burgeoning capitalist class has taken to supercars in a big
lovingly recounts every exotic car crash it can, and an astonishing
amount of unobtanium is crumpled on the roads of China. The
International Bodyshop Industry Symposium (IBIS) estimates that 60
percent to 90 percent of all Chinese vehicles are involved in a
collision each year.
If (and when) a bus driver hits a Ferrari, for example, the bus
company would be liable for damages over the liability amount, just
like in the U.S. (See "
Why your Porsche is a sitting duck
.") But unlike in the U.S., supercars can come with price tags in
the millions of dollars.
The website What's On Tianjin recently recounted the woes of a
cook offering to sell everything he owns to pay for $1 million in
damages to the owner of a Rolls-Royce that he clipped.
Say what you want about American-style car insurance
premiums, greedy lawyers and torts law. But at least once the
lawyers and other cash-grabbers sniff out that there's no
money to be had, they usually leave you alone. (See "Expensive car,
cheap car insurance.")