Insurance in New Zealand

New Zealand, with its stunning landscapes and thriving economy, is not only a haven for adventure seekers but also a hub for a robust and competitive insurance industry. Understanding the dynamics of insurance in New Zealand involves exploring the key players, popular insurance products, regulatory landscape, and emerging trends shaping the industry.


Insurance Companies in New Zealand

Here is the list of life insurance, general insurance or reinsurance companies registered in New Zealand, as updated on 19 December (F.Y. 2023/24):

  1. AA Insurance Limited
  2. Accuro Health Insurance Society Limited
  3. ACS (NZ) Limited
  4. AIA New Zealand Limited
  5. AIG Insurance New Zealand Limited
  6. Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co., Ltd
  7. Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
  8. American Income Life Insurance Company
  9. Asteron Life Limited
  10. Atradius Credito y Caucion, S.A. de Seguros y Reaseguros
  11. Beneficial Insurance Limited
  12. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company
  13. Booster Assurance Limited
  14. Brightsideco Insurance Limited
  15. CBL Insurance Limited (In Liquidation)
  16. CentrePort Captive Insurance Limited
  17. Chubb Insurance New Zealand Limited
  18. Chubb Life Insurance New Zealand Limited
  19. Compagnie Francaise D’Assurance Pour Le Commerce Exterieur
  20. Co-operative Life Limited
  21. DPL Insurance Limited
  22. Factory Mutual Insurance Company
  23. Fidelity Life Assurance Company Limited
  24. First American Title Insurance Company of Australia Pty Limited
  25. First Insurance Limited
  26. FMG Insurance Limited
  27. Foundation Life (NZ) Limited
  28. General Reinsurance Australia Ltd
  29. General Reinsurance Life Australia Ltd
  30. Great Lakes Insurance SE
  31. Hallmark General Insurance Company Ltd.
  32. Hallmark Life Insurance Company Limited
  33. Hannover Life Re of Australasia Ltd
  34. HDI Global Specialty SE
  35. Helia Insurance Pty Limited
  36. IAG New Zealand Limited
  37. Indemnity and General Insurance Company Limited
  38. Lloyd’s of London
  39. Manawa Energy Insurance Limited
  40. Marac Insurance Limited
  41. Medical Insurance Society Limited
  42. Medical Life Assurance Society Limited
  43. Meridian Energy Captive Insurance Limited
  44. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited
  45. Momentum Life Limited
  46. Munich Reinsurance Company
  47. Munich Reinsurance Company of Australasia Limited
  48. New Zealand Dental Insurance Society Limited
  49. New Zealand Medical Indemnity Insurance Limited
  50. nib nz insurance limited
  51. nib nz limited
  52. NorthStandard Limited
  53. Pacific International Insurance Pty Limited
  54. Partners Life Limited
  55. Pinnacle Life Limited
  56. Police Health Plan Limited
  57. Provident Insurance Corporation Limited
  58. QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited
  59. QBE Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance Limited
  60. Quest Insurance Group Limited
  61. Resolution Life Australasia Limited
  62. Resolution Life New Zealand Limited
  63. RGA Reinsurance Company of Australia Limited
  64. Risk Reinsurance Limited
  65. SCOR SE
  66. Selacs Insurance Limited
  67. Southern Cross Benefits Limited
  68. Southern Cross Medical Care Society
  69. Southern Cross Pet Insurance Limited
  70. Southsure Assurance Limited
  71. Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Limited
  72. T&G Insurance Limited
  73. Teal Insurance Limited
  74. Teleco Insurance (NZ) Limited
  75. The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd
  76. The New India Assurance Company Limited
  77. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.
  78. TOWER Limited
  79. Union Medical Benefits Society Limited
  80. Unison Insurance Limited
  81. Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited
  82. Vero Liability Insurance Limited
  83. Veterinary Professional Insurance Society Incorporated
  84. Virginia Surety Company, Inc
  85. Zurich Australian Insurance Limited

History of Insurance in New Zealand

Navigating Risks in Early Colonial New Zealand

In the early days of colonial New Zealand, a land filled with promise also harbored uncertainties. The scattered population, coupled with a lack of established roads, made coastal shipping a lifeline for communication and supplies. However, with this reliance came inherent risks—shipwrecks and fires at sea were frequent occurrences. The colonial towns, predominantly constructed of wood, faced the constant threat of fires, while workplaces, including mines and mills, added another layer of danger with accidents and fatalities.

The Birth of Insurance: A Shield Against Uncertainties

Amidst this raw and unpredictable backdrop, the value of insurance became increasingly evident. The insurance industry swiftly gained ground, offering a means to mitigate the financial toll of specified risks. The insurance contract, known as a policy, became a lifeline for individuals and organizations, providing protection in the face of adversity.

The insurance landscape in New Zealand took shape with two primary categories: general insurance and life insurance. General insurance, initially focusing on marine and fire coverage, expanded to include protection for a spectrum of properties, vehicles, and liabilities. On the other hand, life insurance evolved beyond its early roots, encompassing personal injury, sickness, income replacement, mortgage guarantees, and other forms of credit insurance.

Pioneering Life Insurance Companies: A Tapestry of Mutual Entities

The first life insurance companies in New Zealand operated as mutual entities, owned by policyholders. Australian companies, notably the Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP), played a pivotal role, entering the New Zealand market in 1854. These mutual companies primarily offered whole-of-life policies, ensuring a sum assured payout upon the death of the insured individual. As the industry matured, endowment policies gained prominence, providing regular instalments during the insured person’s lifetime and serving as a financial cushion for retirement.

Selling life insurance in 19th-century New Zealand was a fiercely competitive endeavor. Insurance agents, akin to modern-day solicitors, approached potential clients with a zeal that Colonel George Whitmore, a veteran of the New Zealand wars, vividly captured: “A person can hardly get out of a railway carriage without someone rushing up to him and wanting to ‘take his life.’” Discriminatory practices were not unheard of, with agents instructed to charge more for insuring certain demographics, including “Maoris, half-castes, quadroons [quarter-castes], Chinese, or other men of color.”

Government Life Insurance: Bridging Gaps in Access

Recognizing that not everyone could afford the premiums charged by private insurers and the financial stability of early insurance companies was uncertain, the government stepped in. In 1869, Government Life Insurance was established, initially distributing policies through state-owned post offices. By 1877, Government Life had surpassed the combined total of its competitors, shaping the landscape of life insurance in New Zealand. Local branches of British and American companies occasionally appeared, but the dominance of Government Life and Australian mutual companies persisted until the 1980s.

Early Fire and General Insurance: A Response to Blaze Perils

Fire posed a constant threat in early New Zealand, where most structures were constructed of timber. Agents for British fire and general insurance companies arrived in the early 1850s, but the demand for coverage exceeded their capacity. Local businessmen seized the opportunity, leading to the formation of enduring companies such as the New Zealand Insurance Company (NZI) in 1859. By 1893, a total of 27 companies, including British and Australian representatives, operated in the local general insurance market.

Cooperation among general insurance companies was crucial to standardizing premiums and ensuring stability. The introduction of the first fire insurance tariff in New Zealand in 1868 laid the foundation for agreed schedules, reducing undercutting between companies. The Council of Fire Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, established in 1895, further ensured adherence to tariffs. In 1967, this council evolved into the Insurance Council of New Zealand, reflecting the changing dynamics of the industry.

State Fire Insurance: A Government Response

While tariffs provided advantages, they also faced criticism for keeping premiums unreasonably high. To address this, the government established the State Fire Insurance Office in 1903, making it the second government-backed insurance company globally. Despite facing opposition from private insurers, State Fire commenced operations in 1905 with premiums set 10% below tariff rates. By 1920, it had become the largest general insurance company in New Zealand, challenging the established tariff system.

Shifting Tides: Accident, Vehicle, and Health Insurance

The evolution of insurance continued with the introduction of accident insurance, covering a spectrum of risks due to accidents. In 1973, the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) was established, revolutionizing the landscape by compensating without the need for individuals to sue for damages.

The advent of motor vehicles brought forth a new frontier—vehicle insurance. Specialty motoring insurers, such as Wairarapa AA Mutual, emerged to compete with existing general insurance companies. The stabilization of premiums in the 1930s marked a consensus among insurers to minimize competitive rate-cutting.

Health insurance gained significance, with early models rooted in friendly societies. The Southern Cross Medical Care Society, incorporated in 1962, pioneered private medical insurance, later joined by other life and general companies.

Workplace Accident Insurance and Disaster Coverage

From 1882, laws progressively encouraged and later mandated employers to provide insurance coverage for workplace injuries. Similar legal requirements extended to motor vehicle owners in 1928. Despite these measures, adequate compensation for death or injury remained challenging. The Woodhouse Commission of 1967 paved the way for the Accident Compensation Act 1972, wherein individuals relinquished the right to sue for compensation. The ACC, funded through levies, aimed to compensate and rehabilitate victims.

New Zealand’s vulnerability to natural disasters prompted the establishment of the War Damage Commission in 1941, later evolving into the Earthquake and War Damage Commission. The scope of coverage extended to flood, storm damage, volcanic activity, landslips, and tsunamis. The general insurance industry introduced “all risks” property insurance in the 1960s to supplement gaps in the Commission’s cover.

Government Regulation and Industry Transformations

Government regulations, dating back to the Life Insurance Companies Act 1873, focused on ensuring the financial stability of insurance companies. Over the years, regulations extended to annual financial reviews and increased deposit requirements for fire and general companies.

Fraudulent claims posed a significant challenge, leading to the establishment of investigation units. In 1993, the Insurance Claims Register was introduced, utilizing a computer database to identify fraudulent claims.

The insurance industry underwent a transformative journey over the 20th century. The shift from commission agents to insurance brokers and financial advisors marked a pivotal moment. The 1980s economic reforms saw the privatization of Government Life and the entry of larger multinational companies into the market.

Modern Era: Takeovers, Privatization, and Digitalization

As competition intensified, smaller insurance companies faced takeovers by larger multinationals. Economic reforms in the 1980s led to the privatization of Government Life, eventually listed on stock exchanges. State Insurance was sold to Norwich Union Holdings in 1990, later merging with NZI in 2003.

In recent times, face-to-face transactions diminished as telephone and internet services dominated. Insurance transformed into an integral part of the financial services sector, with many banks offering comprehensive insurance services.

Conclusion: A Dynamic Future

The history of insurance in New Zealand is a testament to the nation’s resilience in navigating risks. From maritime perils and colonial fires to the complexities of modern health and disaster insurance, the industry has adapted to the evolving needs of a growing nation. As New Zealand faces new risks, the insurance sector remains a crucial partner in safeguarding the financial well-being of individuals and businesses alike. The journey continues, with the promise of a dynamic future shaped by innovation and a commitment to protecting dreams.


Regulators of Insurance in New Zealand

The insurance industry in New Zealand operates under a robust regulatory framework overseen by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA). The regulatory environment aims to ensure the stability of insurance companies and protect the interests of policyholders.

Licensing Requirements

Insurers seeking to operate in New Zealand are required to obtain licenses under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010 (IPSA). The licensing process involves stringent assessments to confirm the financial stability and capability of insurance providers. Operating without a license is considered an offense, underlining the importance of adherence to regulatory standards.

Consumer Protection Measures

The regulatory framework includes provisions to safeguard consumer interests. Insurance companies are obligated to provide clear and transparent information to policyholders, ensuring they understand the terms and conditions of their insurance policies. The regulatory authorities actively monitor compliance to prevent unfair practices and maintain trust in the industry.

Risk-Based Supervision

The RBNZ employs a risk-based supervision approach, tailoring regulatory interventions based on the risk profiles of individual insurers. This proactive approach enables the regulator to address emerging risks and ensure the overall stability of the insurance market.

Landscape of Diversity

Prominent Insurance Companies

Several prominent insurance companies dominate the market in New Zealand. One of the major players is IAG New Zealand, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Insurance Australia Group. IAG New Zealand operates under various brands, such as State Insurance, AMI Insurance, and NZI. The company offers a comprehensive range of insurance products, including home and contents insurance, car insurance, and business insurance.

Suncorp New Zealand is another significant player, operating under brands like Vero Insurance and AA Insurance. Suncorp provides a diverse set of insurance solutions, encompassing home and contents insurance, car insurance, and commercial insurance.

Local insurers, such as Tower Insurance and Southern Cross Healthcare Group, also contribute substantially to the market. Tower Insurance specializes in general insurance, offering coverage for homes, vehicles, and businesses. On the other hand, Southern Cross Healthcare Group focuses on health insurance and related services.

Insurance Products Shaping Lives

  • Home and Contents Insurance: Given the seismic activity in New Zealand, home insurance is a crucial consideration for homeowners. Insurance policies typically cover damage caused by natural disasters, including earthquakes. Contents insurance, an integral part of the coverage, protects personal belongings within the home.
  • Car Insurance: As in many countries, car insurance is a legal requirement in New Zealand. It provides protection against accidents, theft, and damage to vehicles. Comprehensive coverage options often include benefits such as roadside assistance and coverage for third-party liability.
  • Health Insurance: While New Zealand has a public healthcare system, health insurance is popular for those who seek additional coverage. Private health insurance can cover elective surgeries, specialist consultations, and other medical expenses not fully covered by the public system.
  • Life Insurance: Life insurance plays a vital role in providing financial security for families in the event of an unexpected death. These policies often include benefits such as lump-sum payouts or income replacement to support dependents.
  • Business and Commercial Insurance: For businesses, insurance is a critical component of risk management. Commercial insurance covers a range of risks, including property damage, liability, and business interruption. Tailored policies cater to the unique needs of different industries.
  • Others: Travel, Engineering, Casualty, Marine, Trauma, etc.

Insurtech Revolution

As in many parts of the world, New Zealand’s insurance industry is undergoing a technological transformation driven by insurtech – the intersection of insurance and technology. Insurtech companies are leveraging data analytics, artificial intelligence, and digital platforms to enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and develop innovative products.

Digital platforms have simplified the insurance process, allowing customers to access information, purchase policies, and file claims online. The integration of technology not only improves efficiency but also aligns with the preferences of a tech-savvy consumer base.

Sustainability and ESG Practices

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations have become integral to decision-making in the insurance sector. Insurers in New Zealand are increasingly adopting sustainable practices and incorporating ESG factors into their operations. This includes offering insurance products that align with environmentally friendly initiatives and promoting social responsibility.

Insurers are also investing in sustainable business practices, such as reducing their carbon footprint and supporting community projects. Consumers, especially the younger demographic, are showing a growing interest in aligning themselves with insurers who demonstrate a commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.

Personalization of Insurance Products

Consumer expectations are evolving, and insurers are responding by offering more personalized products and services. With the help of data analytics and artificial intelligence, insurers can tailor coverage to individual needs, providing a more customized experience for policyholders. This trend is particularly evident in health and life insurance, where individuals seek coverage that aligns with their unique lifestyles and preferences.

Challenges and Opportunities on the Horizon

While the insurance industry in New Zealand is thriving, it is not without its challenges.

Natural Disasters and Catastrophic Events

New Zealand’s geographical location exposes it to the risk of natural disasters, including earthquakes and floods. Insurers face the ongoing challenge of accurately assessing and pricing these risks. The frequency and severity of catastrophic events can impact the financial stability of insurance companies, necessitating effective risk management strategies.

Regulatory Compliance Complexity

The regulatory environment, while essential for ensuring the integrity of the industry, can pose challenges for insurers. Staying compliant with evolving regulations requires ongoing investment in systems and processes. Navigating the complexities of regulatory changes while maintaining operational efficiency is a delicate balance for insurance companies.

Changing Consumer Expectations

As technology advances and consumer preferences evolve, insurance companies must adapt to meet changing expectations. This includes offering seamless digital experiences, providing more flexible and personalized coverage options, and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. Insurers that successfully navigate these changes stand to gain a competitive edge in the market.


The landscape of insurance in New Zealand is characterized by diversity, innovation, and a commitment to consumer protection. As insurers navigate the challenges posed by natural disasters, regulatory complexities, and shifting consumer expectations, they also embrace opportunities presented by technological advancements, sustainability initiatives, and the demand for personalized products.

The regulatory framework, overseen by the RBNZ and FMA, ensures a stable and trustworthy insurance environment. With a focus on licensing requirements, consumer protection, and risk-based supervision, the regulatory authorities play a pivotal role in shaping the industry’s trajectory.

Looking ahead, the industry is set to witness further transformation with the continued rise of insurtech, a focus on sustainability, and the personalization of insurance products. By staying agile, embracing innovation, and prioritizing customer needs, insurers in New Zealand are poised to navigate the complexities of the insurance landscape and contribute to the financial well-being of individuals and businesses across the country.