• Insurance spend jumps 50%

The insurance council has blamed rising regulation and increased costs driven by the Canterbury earthquakes for a 50 per cent jump in insurance spend over the last nine years.

But a consumer advocacy group says insurance is the third most worrisome expense for households and many feel like they are not getting value for money.

Statistics New Zealand's Household expenditure data show the average household spent $62.40 per week on insurance in 2016 compared $42.10 in 2007.

While household incomes also rose 38 per cent during the time spending on insurance has increased by 60.3 per cent.

Spending on dwelling insurance rose the most at just under 149 per cent while contents insurance was up 131.6 per cent over the nine years.

Health insurance came in third at 72 per cent.

But Statistics New Zealand analyst Adele Bremner said package insurance (where people buy house, car and contents through one provider) was the highest contributor to total gross expenditure.

"The percentage of households reporting expenditure on this category has decreased a fair amount from 57.3 per cent in 2006/07 to 40.7 per cent in 2015/16, but the average weekly household expenditure amount has increased from an average of $11.30 per week to $16.90 per week.

"This indicates that households are spending more on package insurance premiums."

Tim Grafton, chief executive of the Insurance Council - which represents New Zealand's, fire and general insurance businesses, said increased regulatory costs and a re-weighting of risk costs in the wake of the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes were behind the increase.

Before the quakes reinsurance costs were about 7 per cent of what the end customer would pay but after the quakes it tripled to about 20 per cent, he said.

It was also down to the risk attached to natural disasters rising.

He said the risks associated with natural hazards had been "grossly underestimated" before the quakes.

At the same time insurers had to deal with an increased regulatory burden as they were required to either take out more insurance or get additional capital on board to meet new government requirements.

"The combination of regulation and re-weighting of risk costs after 2010 and 2011 are behind it."

During the period there had also been an increase in GST and earthquake levies which also added to the cost to the consumer but were out of the control of the industry.

Insurers have had a mixed run in recent years.

IAG, which owns the brands State Insurance, AMI, NZI and Lumley, and is New Zealand's largest general insurer made an insurance profit of $142 million in the year to June 30 2016.

While rival Vero New Zealand, which owns Vero and AA Insurance, made an $178 million.

But Tower Insurance made a loss of $21.5 million last year as it struggled to deal with ongoing quakes claims from Canterbury.

Luke Harrison, Consumer New Zealand's insurance research writer, said its recent cost of living survey had found 60 per cent of consumers were concerned about the cost of home and contents insurance.

"It was the third most worrisome expense, behind household energy (63 per cent) and the cost of groceries (62 per cent)."

He said when asked to rate their insurers its members were less likely to be content with premiums and value for money compared with other satisfaction measures, such as customer service.

"Health and life insurers did especially poorly here: only 33 per cent of members with health insurance and 29 per cent of members with life insurance felt their cover was good value for money."

Harrison said a major problem was that premium increases weren't transparent and it was difficult for consumers to compare policies.

"The failure of insurers to clearly display premium increases at renewal time means consumers are less likely to shop around."

From April 2017, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority is making British insurers display the past year's premiums in renewal notices and it wants the same thing to happen here.


Rise in car insurance

But even strong competition can not keep a lid on insurance costs rising.

Spending on vehicle insurance, where there is a lot of competition from providers, looks set to rise this year on the back of a shortage in panel-beaters and increased claim costs stemming from higher use of electronics in cars.

Grafton said between 2013 and 2016 there had been a 5 per cent increase in the number of claims but a 20 per cent increase in the amount being claimed.

That was because of a shortage in workers in the panel beating industry and due to today's cars costing more to repair because of increased electronic componentry.

"If you have to replace a wing mirror you are not just looking at $20 to $30 but several hundreds of dollars."

The shortage of workers also meant it was taking longer for jobs to be completed so there were also higher claims costs associated with providing a replacement vehicle for longer.

He said car insurance consumers were likely in for more cost rises this year with a planned increase in the government's levy to help fund the fire service expected mid year.

Insurance spend increase between 2007 and 2016


  • Dwelling insurance up 148.6 per cent
  • Contents insurance up 131.6 per cent
  • Health insurance up 72 per cent
  • Life insurance 56.1 per cent
  • Vehicle insurance up 13.4 per cent
  • Package insurance 62.5 per cent

Source: Statistics New Zealand Household Expenditure Statistics


 - OneRoof

Training & Qualifications

Professional IQ College offers workshops, online courses, webinars and qualifications.
For upcoming events:

Click here

Knowledge Base

Where members can access industry Resources & Media Content

Click here