2017 Home & Contents Insurance Reviews & Ratings
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Compare home and contents insurance providers in New Zealand. Canstar Blue reviews AA Insurance, AMI, ANZ, State, Westpac, Tower and Vero, on factors relating to their speed of response, claims process, quality of service, communications, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
Canstar Blue research finalised in May 2017, published in June 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
AA Insurance makes it five years at the top
For most of us, our home – and what we have in it – is the most valuable (and most valued) possession we own, so we don’t really like to think about anything going wrong with it. However, sometimes things don’t go as planned and through accidental damage, theft, or natural disaster, we find ourselves left with a hefty bill to replace or fix things. That’s where home and contents insurance comes in.
Every year, Canstar Blue surveys policy-holders across New Zealand to find out how they rate their insurers. As well as price, we look at the claims process, speed of response, quality of service, and communications. It’s important to remember that you will only be contacting your insurer if things have gone wrong, so you want to have the confidence that making a claim will not add to the inconvenience and possible stress you’re already enduring.
Making it five years in a row, AA insurance has emerged as the clear winner of this year’s Canstar Blue Overall Customer Satisfaction Award. AA Insurance was also the only insurer to record a maximum five star rating across all research categories – a strong indicator that the insurer is meeting the expectations of its customers.
What does home and contents insurance cover in NZ?
Although home and contents insurance are two separate types of cover, most of us tend to buy the two together. Broadly speaking, the home insurance element covers the structure of your house and any permanent fittings such as kitchen or bathroom, as well as driveways, paths etc, within the boundary of your property. Contents Insurance covers non-permanent fixtures and possessions such as (but not limited to) electrical goods, clothes, jewellery and sporting items.
In New Zealand, there are some elements of home and contents insurance that are common across all providers.
- Sum Insured: With most, if not all, New Zealand home insurance policies, cover is now capped. This means there is a maximum pay out your insurers will award in the event of a claim. When taking out your policy, you are required to calculate the rebuild or reinstatement cost (don’t get this confused with the market value) of your home and insure to that level. This is commonly referred to as the sum insured. Most insurers now provide online calculators for you to estimate your sum insured and it’s important you spend a bit of time getting this right, as you don’t want to over or under insure your property. Worryingly, our survey revealed that only 40% of people review their insurance every year, which means up to 60% of New Zealanders may not know if they have the correct levels of insurance.
- EQC levy: The second commonality is the EQC levy. Paid through your insurer to the government, it is applicable to all insurance policies that include fire insurance. The levy covers the first $100,000 of home damage and the first $20,000 of contents damage in cases of natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. Currently the cost for consumers is 15 cents per $100 of insurance (to a maximum of $207) but this will rise to 20 cents per $100 of cover (to a maximum of $276) in November 2017.
Comparing home and contents insurance in NZ
With the basics covered, how do you find out which insurance company is right for you? Home and contents insurance cover and premiums are dependent on a number of factors and can vary from house to house. Some of the major factors that can affect your premiums and the level of cover you can obtain include the location of your property, the type of land it is built on, type of materials it is built from, and the age of your property. So with these things largely factors you can’t change, how can you make sure you get the best deal? A few things to bear in mind when you compare home insurance are:
- Shop around: Not all insurance policies are equal. Obtain quotes from a number of different providers and compare the cover they offer, as well as the cost of the premium.
- Take out multiple insurance with the same provider: A lot of providers offer a number of different types of insurance and sometimes you can take advantage of incentive discounts by having more than one insurance policy with them, such as home, contents and car insurance.
- Increase you excess: By increasing your excess, you are reducing the amount your insurer might have to pay in the event of a claim, and the flip side is that this will reduce your premium. 16% of the people we recently surveyed have done this.
- Pay a lump sum premium: Most insurance companies give you the chance to pay your premium in instalments, but the overall cost could rise as a result. If you can, pay your premium in one go when you take out the policy and you don’t pay any extra interest or charges.
Can I switch insurers?
If you find a policy that is better on price or cover, you can switch insurers at any time. However, our research revealed that Kiwis are creatures of habit, with a huge 78% of the people we asked renewing their home and contents policy with the same insurer. Maybe it’s the multi-policy discounts on offer or good levels of service provided, both of which are very good reasons to stick to what you know. But remember, even if you are comfortable with your insurer, review and reassess annually to make sure you continue to get the right cover, at the right price.
What to look for in an insurer
Insurance policies can be a difficult read. Full of definitions, inclusions, exclusions and conditions, it can be hard to motivate yourself to read through them, but you do need to do it. Reviewing your policy and knowing what it covers means that in the event of a claim, you know where you stand.
As well as finding out which home and contents insurance providers are rated highest in New Zealand, our research also identified what drives customer satisfaction for consumers who have made a claim on their cover. In order of importance, the following qualities are what were valued most:
- Quality of service
- Speed of response
- Value for money
- Ease of claim
It’s no surprise that quality of service and communication were the most appreciated characteristics. As a customer, you want to feel valued and kept in the loop of what is going on. After all, if you’re making an insurance claim, chances are you’ve already gone through a fair amount of hassle already.
Frequently Asked Questions
Canstar Blue commissioned I-view to survey 2,500 New Zealand consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers who currently have a home and contents insurance policy and have made a claim in the last three years – in this case, 626 New Zealanders.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.