The increasing cost of replacing the modern technology embedded in new car windscreens will mean many consumers will no longer receive free vehicle glass cover under their insurance policy, the head of one broker group says.
Jo Mason, chief executive of NZbrokers, said the change meant owners of older vehicles would lose their free glass cover - even though the impact on insurers is due to the cost of repairing technology that is only found in the newest models.
“Some new vehicle windscreens can contain a wide range of sophisticated technology including cameras, radar, rain sensors, heating elements, light sensors, UV protective cover and even acoustic lamination - which can be expensive to replace.
“We have seen one example of an insurance claim for a new car replacement windscreen costing upwards of $15,000.
“While we have seen extreme cases where windscreen repair claims can reach this level, it is rare as they are typically in the very latest models and vehicles retailing at more than $100,000.
“Putting this in perspective, the average age of the four million vehicles in New Zealand’s fleet is over 14 years - and you can pick up a standard windscreen for an older model for under $200,” she said.
Mason said insurers were seeing the likelihood of higher cost across their portfolio and were moving to change their policy conditions.
Free glass cover has been a standard feature of most vehicle insurance policies in New Zealand for decades.
“Although some of this technology is just coming on to the market now, we’ve already had one insurer say they will no longer provide free glass cover as a result of the higher cost of replacing windscreens,” Mason said.
“Our concern with this change is that for the vast majority of
vehicles on the road, the cost to replace their windscreen is just
a few hundred dollars, but the policy change should not
penalise the owners of older vehicles who do not have the latest technology.
“Unfortunately the change by one insurer will mean that for all motorists regardless of the age of their vehicle, they are likely to lose the benefit of a replacement windscreen with no excess at some stage in the future, if not already.
“Left unchecked, we believe this trend could become commonplace among all insurers which would be inherently unfair to most Kiwis and could be better managed by premium or excess increases for just those cars with modern technology,” she said.
She urged brokers to help their clients understand their policy fine print.
But IAG, the country’s largest insurer, said it had no plans to change its excess-free windscreen cover.
Judith Harvey, national portfolio manager - private motor, for IAG New Zealand, said customers had made it clear the windscreen protection was one of the most valuable insurance services.
“We’re proud to continue to provide this service for our customers,” she said. “We insure more than 500,000 Kiwis, so with our size and scale, as well as operational efficiencies, we’re able to keep this service and keep it affordable for our customers.
“Keeping our customers and their families safe on the roads is a key reason we’re keeping this service going. Being able to quickly remove and replace a broken windscreen means those who need to be on the road can be safe while doing so.”
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