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Covid-19 Virus

Reviewed and updated 18 August 2020

This page provides information on how insurance products would generally respond and is updated periodically. You can find recent media comment and advisories from ICNZ in our media release section.

Pease note: For official information on Covid-19 please refer to the New Zealand Governments Covid-19 page, or Safe Travel.

The coronavirus called COVID-19, and New Zealand’s response to slow its spread in 2020, generated a lot of questions about how it affects insurance cover.

Covid-19 News

01 Sep 2021

In this issue: Insurers supporting customers through lockdown; Auckland floods and tips for recovery; ICNZ Money Week quiz outcomes; things to do to prepare your house for spring.

22 Mar 2021

As the potential of a trans-Tasman travel-bubble becomes more likely, the Insurance Council of New Zealand has today issued clarification on changes to travel insurance in response to the global pandemic COVID-19.   Tim...

19 Jun 2020

A landlord policy is similar to a home policy in many ways but has been designed to also reduce the financial impact of loss or damage arising from additional risks that renting out your house brings. Some options included under...

08 May 2020

By Tim Grafton, CE Insurance Council of New Zealand

The response from insurers in New Zealand

New Zealand insurers are committed to supporting their customers. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, all ICNZ’s members have systems in place to ensure they can maintain their level of service to their customers at each of New Zealand's alert levels, while protecting their business and staff.

If you experience vulnerability or difficulty in paying your premium, then get in touch with your insurer or broker to see what they can do to help you. 

Below are some responses to frequently asked questions. If you can’t find an answer here please contact ICNZ at [email protected]

About insurance and why pandemics aren’t covered

Insurance exists to protect against unforeseen loss or damage.  It takes the form of a contract where one person or business (the insured) agrees to transfer the risk that a range of unforeseen events may happen to a business (an insurer). In return, the insured pays the insurer a fee (a premium) which is the calculation of the frequency of the risk occurring and the potential loss. This is formalised in a legal contract (a policy).

If insurance policies covered every risk, they would be unaffordable. For this reason, policies have limits in place for covered events, and exclude events where the potential for a claim is high, such as high-risk activities while travelling. Policies will also exclude events where the potential loss is extreme or can’t be quantified – such as acts of war or pandemics. We are currently in unprecedented times, but insurance still remains valid and valuable for the risks that are covered within policies.  

To understand more about insurance see our page Understanding insurance – the basics.


Travel insurance

Travel insurance and COVID-19

May 2021

  • On 17 May New Zealand opened a travel bubble with the Cook Islands
  • See information on travel insurance in the Australian bubble section below or read our media release

April 2021

  • On 19 April 2021 New Zealand opened a travel bubble with Australia.
  • If you plan to take a trip across the ditch, it is important that you take out travel insurance at the time you book your flights so you are covered for pre-flight cancellations.
  • Some insurers offer limited Covid-19 travel insurance. However there is no cover for any disruptions, cancellations, or additional costs incurred due to a government lockdown or other government action.
  • It is still important that you take out travel insurance, even if your insurer isn’t offering Covid-19 cover. Insurance will cover you for things like stolen or lost luggage, medical issues, and non-Covid-related cancellations
  • You should continue to stay up to date with the latest travel conditions and alert levels at and
  • For more information on travel insurance and the Covid-19 benefits available, see our media release, or speak to your insurer.

December 2020

  • If you are travelling overseas, some insurers are now providing a Covid-19 extension to their travel insurance policies. The extension offers some cover if you or your travel companion get Covid. However, it will not cover costs incurred if a government lockdown, isolation or quarantine is ordered. If you do take out this sort of travel insurance, make sure you understand what Covid costs would be covered and what would not.
  • Not all insurers are currently offering travel insurance. This is because the Government still has a ‘do not travel’ alert in place. You can stay up to date with the latest alerts at

May 2020

  • Most travel insurance policies have exclusions for outbreaks of pandemics, epidemics and/or known events that could lead to a claim.
  • Policies purchased prior to coronavirus (COVID-19) becoming a known event may cover travellers who are overseas for coronavirus-related expenses. This will depend on the travel insurance product purchased.
  • Travel insurance policies purchased after COVID-19 became a known event are unlikely to cover travellers who are overseas or who are yet to travel for coronavirus-related expenses. 
  • Coronavirus became a known event for most travel insurers between January 20-31, 2020. Insurers who have adopted known event status for COVID-19 have advice for policyholders on their websites
  • Insurers update these advisories in response to the changing situation and explain what cover may or may not be available under their policies
  • Travellers whose plans have been disrupted should contact their travel agent, airline or accommodation provider to seek refunds or make alternative arrangements.

Business interruption (BI)

What is business interruption insurance (BI)?
  • Most BI policies typically cover interruption to a business caused by damage to its assets (as specified in their policy). 
  • Some BI policies may respond to the closure of a business by an authority for a number of risks, including infectious disease, for example Legionnaires.  
  • While specialist cover is available, in New Zealand most BI policies will contain exclusions relating to losses caused by any animal or human disease notifiable under the Heath Act 1956 and the Biosecurity Act 1993.
  • Pandemics are generally excluded because it is not possible to quantify the risk to be able to price it.
  • Because BI policies are tailored to meet each business and its unique needs. If you do not understand how your policy may respond to COVID-19, speak to your broker or insurer for more information. 
How does business insurance work?
  • Insurance policies are tailored to the needs of the individual business. It is not a one size fits all approach, as the insurance needs of no two businesses are the same.
  • Standard commercial insurance policies provide cover against a wide range of risks, including damage caused by fire, flood, losses by theft, accidents involving employees and the need for temporary trading premises in certain circumstances (following severe flood or fire).
  • An adviser or broker will work with the business and advise on the appropriate insurance to suit their needs. Some businesses may have cover in place that specifically provides cover for contingency business interruption arising from notifiable diseases, such as coronavirus, where their premises have been contaminated, but this is not common.

House, Contents and Motor insurance

House, Contents and Motor insurance is not impacted by Covid-19 and still gives you cover to get you back on your feet when the unexpected happens so you can get on with your life.

House and contents insurance

Advice for working from home, unoccupied property and landlords at Alert Level 3 and 4
  • To help stop the spread of COVID-19, many businesses changed how they worked, with people working from home.
  • Working from home should be covered by most standard home insurance policies, assuming that the work is office based in nature.
  • Not all work from home situations may be covered so if you’re unsure check with your insurer.
  • If you need to receive visitors on business matters check with your insurer because there may be some restrictions, such as loss of money and theft being excluded unless there is evidence of forcible and violent entry to the property.
  • Standard home insurance policies will not provide cover for the costs of cleaning a property should it become contaminated by COVID-19 and require a deep clean.
  • Insurers will take an understanding approach if you are quarantined or stuck abroad and are unable to return to your property within the timescales set out in your policy (normally between 30 – 60 days). However, if you are in this situation you should contact your insurer for advice on this.
  • If you are a landlord and can’t access your property to complete your regular three-month inspections because you/ your property manager /your tenant is self-isolating, the inspection should take place as soon as is practical after health clearances. Do check with your insurer about your specific requirements and how your insurer is treating it.
How do I inspect my rental property in an Alert Level 2 COVID-19 environment?
  • Regardless of the Alert Level, insurers are still providing cover on the basis that inspections that were due to be undertaken during the period of restrictive travel will resume as soon as it is safe and practicable to do so.
  • Under Alert Level 2, the government advise is that we can return to work and have some contact with people outside your bubble if it is safe to do so.  For landlords and property managers, this will mean having health and safety plans and guidelines in place to ensure appropriate distancing is maintained and that the health status of the tenants are checked prior to visiting.
  • Some property managers are completing virtual inspections.  Virtual inspections are a good supplement to record some information a landlord may require but it does not replace a physical inspection which is required in order to meet insurance obligations. 
  • After an Alert Level 4 situation, as we move down the alert levels we recommend you contact your tenant to confirm their health status. If they are unwell or showing any COVID-19 symptoms, then the inspection should wait until after the tenant has been cleared by a health professional.
  • If you are unsure about the requirements under your policy, we recommend you contact your insurer or insurance advisor.

Car insurance

If you need to make a claim during Alert Level 4 and 3 restictions you should also check your motor vehicle policy to understand the standard terms and conditions and call your insurer if you have any questions.

For further information or questions relating to your car or driving please visit the NZTA COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page.

At Alert Level 4
  • If your car WoF or CoF expired during an Alert Level 4 period your car insurance would still have been in place as long as there wasn’t an existing safety issue that would mean you might not get a WoF – such as tyres needing to be replaced. You would also have been covered in the event of an accident as long as the cause of the accident wasn’t related to a reason why your car might fail a WoF.
  • Insurers also accepted claims where driver licences had not been able to be renewed during Alert Level 4 restrictions.
  • It is important to renew WoF's, CoF's and driver licences as soon as practical when Alert Level restrictions end.
  • You should also check your motor vehicle policy to understand the standard terms and conditions if you need to make a claim – and call your insurer if you have any questions.
At Alert Level 3
  • If your WoF or CoF is due, or your driver’s licence expires, during an Alert Level 3, your insurer will treat it in the same way as they did at Alert Level 4 (outlined above).
  • Again, it is important to renew WoF's, CoF's and driver licences as soon as practical when Alert Level 3 restrictions end. Again, check your motor vehicle policy to understand the standard terms and conditions if our need to make a claim – and call your insurer if you have any questions.
At Alert Level 2
  • If your WoF, CoF or drivers licence expired during an Alert Level 3 or 4 period, it is important that you renew these as soon as restriction allow during Alert Level 2
  • Once renewed, don’t forget to let your insurer know.


Construction insurance policies

Because construction insurance policies traditionally only offer cover for sudden and unforeseen events, gradual damage caused by moisture, wind or direct sun is often not covered which may be an issue for sites that aren't weather tight during restrictions imposed during alert levels. Contract works insurance policies can be are very complex in nature. If builders, site managers or principle (owner) have any questions about insurance coverage they should contact their insurer or broker to understand how it may affect their cover.

Other questions

If you have a complaint there are are several steps you can take which are explained on our Fair Insurance Code – making a complaint page.

Life Insurance

Because ICNZ represents fire and general insurance companies we are not able to comment on life or health insurance products. We recommend you contact the Financial Services Council who have issued advice on both Life Insurance and KiwiSaver/Investments which you can find on its website