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Covid-19 Virus

Updated 24 March 2020

This page provides information on how insurance products would generally respond to the Covid-19 virus. It will be updated periodically as the situation evolves. You can find recent ICNZ commentary 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 spread of a new coronavirus called Covid-19 and New Zealand’s response to slow its spread is generating a lot of questions about how it is affecting insurance cover.



Covid-19 News

02 Apr 2020

In recognition of the widening implications of the Covid-19 crisis, ICNZ has been working closely with regulators and government departments on how to adjust the regulatory and policy programme planned for 2020. Insurance is a...

02 Apr 2020

You are not the only kiwi sitting safe at home right now during our COVID-19 lockdown wondering why have car insurance when you’re not driving your car or why have contents insurance because there’s no chance of a burglary when...

30 Mar 2020

The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) and its members have announced a set of core principles they have each pledged to use to guide their individual response to support their customers and suppliers during the Covid-19...

03 Mar 2020

As the Coronavirus situation continues to develop the Insurance Council of New Zealand is urging those who have purchased travel insurance to speak with their insurer to clarify what cover they may have. ‘’While some insurers...

What insurers in New Zealand are doing

New Zealand insurers are committed to supporting their customers. In response to Covid-19 all ICNZ’s members have activated their business contingency plans (BCP) to protect their business and staff - ensuring they can maintain their level of service to their customers.

Below is some information to answer questions that we have been receiving.  If you cant find what you need please contact ICNZ at icnz@icnz.org.nz

 

How insurers can help as Essential Services during Level 4 Alert period

Insurance has been identified as an essential financial service during the Level 4 Alert period.

This includes businesses that provides services to insurers to help their customers, for example an electrician, plumber or builder can help with emergency and critical safety repairs.

For more information, including a full list and details about the way essential service businesses can operate in Alert Level 4, visit New Zealand Government Covid-19 website Essential Businesses page.

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

  • Most travel insurance policies have exclusions for outbreaks of pandemics, epidemics and/or known events that could lead to a claim.
  • Each travel insurer’s product will be different.
  • 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 have continued to 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
  • Travel insurers may offer refunds for unused policies and it would pay to ask your insurer if they can offer this. If you can secure a refund it is importnat to understand that this may not be for the full premium paid because travel insurance offers cover from the date of purchase and not for the travel period alone.

Business interruption (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

  • To help stop the spread of Covid-19, many businesses are changing how they work 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, you should contact your insurer for advice on this and if you are in this situation.
  • If you are a landlord and can’t access your property to complete your regular 3month 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.

Other questions

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

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