Henry* owns an adventure tourism business. Henry has insurance for his business arranged through his insurance broker. In February 2023, the broker told Henry that his policies were due for renewal in March 2023.
The broker sent Henry a policy renewal declaration form to complete. Henry returned the renewal declaration form ten days later. On the form, Henry declared that his business had started operating helicopter tours. Henry also added two cars to his commercial motor vehicle insurance policy.
The insurance broker began to ask insurers for aviation insurance quotes for Henry. Henry and the broker had a meeting about Henry’s policy renewal on 6 March 2023. The broker emailed Henry’s insurer on 9 March 2023 to check whether Henry’s policy renewal terms were ready.
The insurer said they needed more time to prepare Henry’s policy renewal terms, so they agreed to extend Henry’s policy renewal deadline.
On 15 March 2023, the insurer told Henry’s insurance broker that they had reissued Henry’s policy renewal terms with higher premiums in response to a 14 March District Court ruling. The insurer thought that the District Court’s ruling would lead to higher legal defence costs for adventure tourism businesses generally, which prompted them to increase Henry’s premiums.
The broker challenged the insurer’s increased premiums. The insurer agreed to reduce Henry’s premiums in response to the broker’s request.
Three of the four other insurers that Henry’s broker had approached for insurance quotes were not interested in insuring adventure tourism insurance businesses. Henry declined the fourth insurer’s offer because he did not want aviation insurance, despite declaring on his renewal declaration form that his business was operating helicopter tours.
On 27 March, the broker confirmed that Henry’s insurance policies had renewed. The broker also told Henry that his premiums were going to increase. Henry was unhappy. Henry felt that he did not have an opportunity to make other arrangements.
Henry complained to FSCL on 7 May 2023.
Henry said that he had lost the opportunity to arrange insurance elsewhere because of his broker’s late renewal notification.
Henry complained that his broker did not tell him that his premiums were going to increase before his policies renewed, and that his broker should not have tried to sell him aviation insurance, which he had not asked for. Henry wanted the broker to provide their services free of charge until March 2024, which would have saved him a considerable amount of money.
Henry’s broker apologised for their late policy renewal notification. They offered to forgo commission on Henry’s insurance until June 2023 to give Henry time to find a new broker.
FSCL thought that the broker had done their best for Henry in all the circumstances.
The insurance industry was under a lot of pressure because of the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle in early 2023. The stress of these events had caused communication delays between insurers, brokers, and consumers, and contributed to Henry’s late policy renewal.
The broker did not expect Henry’s insurer to reissue Henry’s policy renewal terms with higher premiums. The broker expected to receive Henry’s policy renewal terms from the insurer by 10 March 2023, but the insurer did not provide them until 15 March.
This delay was extended because the broker argued about the premium increase on Henry’s behalf and got the insurer to agree to reduce them, which was in Henry’s best interests.
The increases in Henry’s premiums were in line with industry trends following the extreme weather events in early 2023.
Henry declined the only quote the broker was able to obtain from another insurer because he did not want aviation insurance.
FSCL thought that the broker confirmed Henry’s premiums were going to increase within a reasonable timeframe. The broker was not aware that Henry’s premiums were going to increase significantly until 15 March, when Henry’s insurer reissued their policy renewal terms. The broker told Henry that the insurer had reissued their renewal terms with significantly higher premiums on 17 March, and then tried to find other insurers who were offering lower premiums.
FSCL recommended that Henry should discontinue his complaint. Henry disagreed with the decision but did not provide any new information, so the case was closed.
* name changed
INSIGHTS FOR CONSUMERS
It is important to keep in mind that your insurance broker may not always be able to get you the outcome you want from the insurer. You should consider your broker’s process, as well as the outcome, when trying to determine whether they have acted in your best interests.