Proposed Changes to Insurance Law Can't Come Soon Enough

Friday 22 March 2024, 9:59PM

By RedPR


The drawing of MP Duncan Webb’s private member’s bill from the ballot this week is a positive start for consumers says former Christchurch City Councillor, Ali Jones.

Jones, who has been working alongside Canterbury earthquake claimants for over a decade, says as players in one of the most unregulated sectors in the world, some insurers have been able to act badly and with impunity for far too long.

“Self-regulation is not the answer, as we have seen,” she says. “Although Duncan Webb makes reference to the Fair Trading Act which can apply, insurance exceptions have left insurance policyholders not as well protected as they should be.”

Webb’s proposed bill would also introduce penalties for insurers who failed to act in good faith, such as not completing a claim in a timely manner.

“Goodness knows we could have done with that several years ago,” says Jones who recently highlighted EQC’s Chief Executive announcement of figures related to claims older than two years, as being completely incorrect.

“EQC is an insurer and as such I would expect them to be covered by this new legislation,” she says. Then we have insurers who delay to the point the statute of limitations kicks in and the claimant is basically left with no other legal redress or options. We must learn from Christchurch and Canterbury and these proposed changes go some way to acknowledge changes are needed.”

Jones says there likely to be hundreds of claimants still managing insurance claims related to the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and that is unacceptable.

“It’s worse than unacceptable,” she says, “It’s inhuman. The people I am working with continue to deal with what normal life throws at them – illness, family challenges, job changes, financial issues, the whole gambit. Can you imagine managing all that together with years of fighting massively well-resourced insurers to get what you are actually entitled to? Without changes to the law and much better protection for consumers, with climate events continuing to occur, this could happen to you wherever you are in New Zealand.”