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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fair Insurance Code Questions & Answers – Part 2

Why is ICNZ so keen on having a Fair Insurance Code, and prickly over criticism directed at the Code?

At an operational level the Code is a useful means of providing a standard approach to offering, selling and administering insurance. This has benefits to insurers as they want customers to have a feeling of ease and security in buying and keeping insurance. It works quite well, with New Zealand having an extremely high uptake of insurance which, in turn, means significant revenue for insurance companies.

At the political level the Code is one of the means used by insurers as they work to prevent or obstruct legislation to regulate the insurance industry. Unrestrained self-regulation is their on-going goal, and the Code is the part of the public face of how they go about it.

Prior to the earthquakes insurers operated without public scrutiny and there seemed to be no shortcomings (unless you dug deep). Should the fairness and suitability of the Code now be successfully challenged then the future of the current level of self-regulation becomes uncertain, and the preferred form of business-as-usual threatened.

The loud and frequent post-earthquake requests for more legislative change and oversight of the conduct of insurers is the crux of much of what is motivating insurers in this revision of the Code. They fear legislative change will put limits on their freedom to operate in a way that is highly favourable to them.

Click on the link to continue

Friday, March 6, 2015

A helpful change to the insurance disputes process coming up?

Yesterday Paul Goldsmith, Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, announced  the opening of consultations on changes to the maximum amount that could be taken to the insurance industry’s disputes resolution services (the full media release is below).

The change proposed is an  “… increase to the cap on the compensation that dispute resolution schemes can award in relation to disputes about real property insurance claims. The proposed increase is from $200,000 to a minimum of $350,000.”

Post-earthquake, only disputes up to $200,000 could be considered by the insurers’ independent dispute resolution services. Beyond that amount disputes had to be taken to the High Court, an action too expensive for most people. Insurers could have agreed to have larger amounts considered, but this did not seem to happen. As a consequence many homeowners were, in effect, coerced by insurers into a take it or leave it situation. At the time there was significant demand for the cap to be raised.

The government’s proposal is in two parts. The first is to increase the maximum amount to at least $350,000. The second is to back-date eligibility for access to the amended amount to 2010, allowing those currently in dispute with their insurers to avoid the High Court process. Full details are in a document on the MBIE website here.

The submission process is relatively straight forward. MBIE require submitters to use a template (available on their website here). The document has a list of 15 questions they would like your answers to. Download it, fill it in, and e-mail it back to them.

If you think you might want to give it a go, but aren’t certain about the questions, give me a week or so to finish with the revised Fair Insurance Code and I will go through the submission questions.

Those wanting to make a submission have until 5.00pm on the 9th of April (Thursday after Easter) to make a submission to the Ministry of Business Industry and Employment. Information about the submission process is here.

 

Back to the Revised Code FAQ tomorrow.

Click the link to read the media release.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kaiapoi Red Zone photographic exhibition


The Kaiapoi Public Library is currently hosting an exhibition of Red Zone photographs by Cosmo Kentish-Barnes.

Kaiapoi_Gallery

Cosmo  spent a few months around Kaiapoi photographing earthquake damage. From this arose a project to photograph "exiled residents" in front of their red stickered homes, or the land where once they had a home.

Each photograph is accompanied by a brief account of the post-earthquake life of one of the people in the photograph. As someone who has shared the experience of those he photographed I felt he did an extremely good and sensitive job.

Come and visit Kaiapoi to check out the exhibition. It is of modest size so won’t take up too much time. The library is on Williams Street, immediately before the Kaiapoi river.

Library_at_night

Kaiapoi library

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fair Insurance Code FAQ – Part 1

The FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is not part of the Revised Code, just an explanation of the Review process and some of the positions taken by ICNZ on particular issues.

While the FAQ may give an idea of what is intended in the Revised Code, it cannot be used to make an insurer interpret the Revised Code in any particular way.

Parts of the FAQ are purely background information so there is no reason to comment on them. Other parts are revealing, and a few give reason to believe that some of what is promised in the Revised Code is shadow rather than substance.

We will do this in three posts to keep the amount of reading down.

Please click on the link to continue.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Assessing the ICNZ Revised Fair Insurance Code - Part 3

This post considers the final part of the Revised Code. As we move towards the way claims are processed there are welcome improvements.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

ICNZ make a more detailed response.

Thursday’s blog covered the Insurance Council of New Zealand’s (ICNZ) response to an article on an insurance business website. The article featured the Avonside Blog’s commentary on the revised Fair Insurance Code. The ICNZ response was strongly critical.

On Friday Tim Grafton, CEO of ICNZ, made a more detailed response elaborating on his earlier criticisms and pointing to the beneficial changes that have been made. You can read that response here.

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