Insurance Rights

Check Your Insurance Policy
The insurance policy is an important legal document. Check it out thoroughly so that it clearly sets out your understanding of the situation and the cover that you have asked for, as you understand it.

Some other points you need to check are:

  • Check what is covered.
  • Check what is not covered.
  • Check when the protection starts and when it ends.
  • Read the date when the policy needs to be renewed.
  • Make sure the policy remains valid at all times.
  • Check if you have to pay any part of costs yourself - for example, with car insurance you have excess and this will also apply to some other insurance.
  • Be clear on how you can make claims when necessary.
  • Find out what the payout will be if you want to surrender your policy at any time (if it is that type of policy).
  • See if the policy gives the insurance company the right to replace the goods, rather than pay out cash for them.
  • See whether the policy will replace goods new, or whether they will pay out a price on the depreciated value.
  • In every case, make sure you do a full investigation of the policies available from a number of companies and then make your decision after you have assessed the benefits and the costs of each.
  • Complaints regarding insurance. If you have any complaints regarding your insurance you have access to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman who will see if a resolution can be arrived at.

How to Lodge a Complaint
If you wish to complain to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman (ISO) about an insurance company (who is a participant to the ISO scheme), you should write to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, PO Box 10845, Wellington. Alternatively, you can call the ISO's free phone number: 0800 888 202.

Who Can Complain?
This service is available to any person or group of people who:

  • Have a complaint relating to personal or domestic insurance against an insurance company. (The company has to be a participant in the ISO scheme.)
  • Anyone who has exhausted the internal complaints procedure of that insurance company.

The ombudsman will only consider complaints made by the actual policyholder or a customer of the company. He does not have the power to deal with complaints if they relate to commercial insurance, or to an insurance assessment of risk, or the setting of premiums. The amount you claim cannot exceed $100,000. Before laying a complaint you should make use of all the internal complaints procedures that the company provides.

You will need to include the following information:

  • What you feel the company has done wrong.
  • What, if any, loss you have suffered.
  • What remedy you seek from the insurance company.
  • You should also include a letter from the insurer saying that a deadlock has been reached in your negotiations.

How Will The Ombudsman Deal With It?
An investigating officer from the ombudsman office will assess your complaint and then present views to both parties. The ombudsman, after hearing each side of the story will make a recommendation.

If the recommendation is not accepted, then the ombudsman will make an award, which means the company must pay a specified amount of money and the award cannot be more than $100,000. If you don't accept the ombudsman's recommendation, the next step is for you to deal with it through the courts.