What are Your Rights
You have some basic rights as a consumer under the Fair Insurance Code and under a number of pieces of New Zealand legislation. If you feel your rights have been breached, you may access a free disputes resolution service.
Insurance is a contract between an insurer and a customer. It is based on the principle of good faith — a system of managing relationships where everyone agrees to treat each other with respect, good intentions and recognising everyone’s rights.
- provide the service agreed with the customer in their contract
- act in good faith at all times
- settle claims fairly and efficiently
- adhere to the principles set out in the Fair Insurance Code
- adhere to all laws governing their conduct in New Zealand.
- pay their agreed premiums on time
- act honestly and with integrity in all their dealings with their insurer
- accurately and fully disclose all information relevant to their policies and claims.
Making a complaint
If you have a complaint about your own insurer, there are a number of steps that you can take.
How to complain
If you have a complaint about your insurer, the first step is to complain to the insurer directly. Each insurer has an internal complaints process which you can contact to try to resolve your complaint.
If you and your insurer are unable to resolve the complaint, your insurer will send you a letter confirming that your complaint is “deadlocked”. You can then take your complaint to the insurer’s independent, external dispute resolution scheme.
The dispute resolution schemes have some limits on what complaints they can consider. Because the schemes are for the benefit of consumers, they can only take complaints from individuals or small organisations with 19 or fewer full-time employees. They can also only consider complaints where less than $200,000 in financial loss is disputed: any more than this amount will need to be disputed in the High Court.
The disputes resolution schemes investigate complaints and your rights to try and resolve them by negotiation or mediation where possible.
Your rights when complaining
When you place a formal complaint, your insurance company must:
- acknowledge your complaint within 5 business days
- respond to your complaint within 10 business days
- advise you of your right to take the complaint to their independent, external disputes resolution scheme if they are unable to resolve your complaint within 2 months.
Dispute resolution schemes
Dispute resolution schemes exist to resolve disputes between insurers and their customers. If you have a complaint about your insurer that your insurer cannot resolve, you can refer your complaint to your insurer’s independent dispute resolution scheme, free of charge.
Further protection for your rights: any insurer who provides their services to retail clients (consumers) must belong to an approved dispute resolution scheme under the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008.
The dispute resolution schemes are licensed by the Minister of Consumer Affairs under this Act and must be:
Insurers belong to one of two approved dispute resolution schemes: