Chinese firm touts first 'virtual property' insurance

Sunshine Insurance Group collaborating with Chinese online games operator, Gamebar, launches "virtual property" insurance amid growing disputes between gamers and operators over theft of virtual goods, according to report.

Chinese insurance company Sunshine Insurance Group has introduced a "virtual property" insurance product, marking the industry's first foray into the online games space.

News site China Daily reported Thursday that the new product, which was created for online game players, is a collaboration between Sunshine Insurance Group and local online game operator and manufacturer, Gamebar. The new service was introduced against a backdrop of an increasing number of disputes between online games operators and their customers, which are often related to the loss or theft of gamers' virtual property such as "land" or "currency", the article noted.

"The insurance will help to reduce operating risks for online games companies as the companies which purchase the insurance will be covered to compensate customers in the event of lost or stolen property," said a Sunshine Insurance spokesperson in the report.

He also noted that the virtual property insurance was a "landmark achievement" for the local insurance industry, as it marked the first time a market player has entered the online games sector.

Another report by technology blog site, BNET, on Thursday stated that the insurance is currently available only to Chinese citizens.

Pearl Research earlier estimated that the Chinese online games market will be worth US$6 billion by 2012 on the back of more Chinese online users joining the bandwagon. There were 384 million online gamers in the country at the end of 2009, the report noted.

A separate study by ABI Research corroborated this finding, stating that China will play an integral role in making Asia the main driving force for the global online games market, which will exceed US$20 billion by 2012.