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Insurance New Zealand Style

In protecting both policyholders and providers of insurance, New Zealand leads the way. Prior to the establishment of the Fair Insurance Code, it was difficult to ensure that consumer’s rights were being protected. Additionally, insurance companies did not have guidelines to follow that would enable those rights to be adhered to. Now that insurance companies have agreed to follow the Fair Insurance Code, instances of unfair practices and disputes between companies and consumers have noticeably declined.

Not only does the Code stipulate practices to be followed by the insurance companies, but it defines the responsibilities of the policyholders towards the insurance companies as well. To help the process along and to minimize misunderstandings in the area of insurance, New Zealand has established the office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman. The services of the Ombudsman are not legally binding as far as complaints are concerned, but are directed towards mediation between a policyholder and company. The decisions made by the Ombudsman are legally binding however, so the Office does have a significant measure of authority. These services are free.

As a policy holder, you can protect yourself and avoid issues with your policy provider by following a few simple rules.

  • When submitting a claim, make certain that the information provided is, to your knowledge, correct and factual, and that it is honest.
  • Do not withhold information, and be prepared to provide information regarding any previous claims you have made.
  • Be prepared to provide information regarding your present financial condition, as well as any changes made to items being insured since the policy was issued or last updated.

As a policy provider, problems can often be averted when the specific coverage that has been offered has been quite clearly explained, taking care to note limitations.

  • Be prepared to give a detailed explanation as to why a claim has been denied.
  • Be prepared to pay all insurance claims as soon as their validity has been determined.

There are other rules and guidelines as well, but by following the above, most provisions of the Code will have been met, and a visit to the Office of the Ombudsman may be avoided.

In summary, a policy holder should not hesitate to ask about any provisions in a policy that are not clear. Often when a claim is not successful it is due to some aspect of the policy not being properly explained. The policy provider, on the other hand, should make extra effort to ensure the provisions of the policy, especially regarding coverage, are spelled out clearly, so a policyholder does not have to wade through pages of legal terminology to understand what is covered and what is not.