How do I make a claim?

I’ve got insurance and something has gone wrong – now what?

If you have insurance of any kind, and something has gone wrong, you will need to put in an insurance claim with your insurance company. Do this as soon as you possibly can.

These claims can take a little while for your insurance company to process.

Sometimes you will need to prove to them what damage has been done to your possessions or vehicle.

Contents insurance claims

You will need to call your insurance company and tell them what has happened.

You may need to prove what damage has been done to your contents. They might want things like photographs, warranties, receipts or serial numbers. Remember to tell them the truth here about what happened, how it happened, and how old your possessions were.

Wait until after you have spoken to your insurance company before you arrange to get your possessions fixed. Sometimes they will make you take your possessions to a certain place to get them fixed - for example, say you accidentally spilt coffee all over your brand new Mac laptop. Your insurance company may want to send your Mac to a specific repairer - one that they trust.

If your possessions have been broken or stolen, then you will need to talk to the police. They will note down what has happened, and give you an incident number which you can then give to your insurance company.

To claim on your insurance, you will have to pay an excess. This is often around $100-400, although it varies depending on your insurance contract. An excess is the contribution which you pay towards the damages, and your insurance company will pay the rest of what your contract says you are owed.

Vehicle insurance claims

In movies when people crash they always have to exchange insurance details. What kinds of things are expected?

If you get into an accident, check that everyone is okay first. If anyone is injured then call an ambulance first! If everyone is okay, then you should exchange insurance details.

If it is a serious crash, or you think that the situation is particularly difficult, call emergency services on 111. If not, you should contact the police on one of their community lines within 24 hours of the crash.

We recommend that you:

  • Write down the name, address and phone number of each of the other drivers, along with their vehicle registration number and the name of their insurance company.
  • Give these same details about yourself to the other driver.
  • Write down the name, address and phone number of any witnesses to the accident.
  • Write down, as soon as you can, as much as you can remember about the accident, including:

    • the time of the accident
    • where it happened
    • the weather and road conditions, and
    • the speeds you think you and the other vehicle were travelling at.

        Remember never to admit fault at the scene of the accident. It is up to the insurance companies to work out who is at fault and if you say anything to this effect it can make it harder for your insurance company to sort things out with the other drivers involved. It could also result in your claim being declined.

        If you accidentally hit a parked car and you cannot find the driver of that car, you should report this to the police as soon as you can, within 60 hours. That way they can sort everything out, and you can find out contact details for your insurance company. Try to leave a note on their dashboard with your contact details too!

        Travel insurance claims

        You can make travel insurance claims while you are still travelling or when you get home. As above, it is very important to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an incident. Most travel insurers provide 24-hour, worldwide assistance if you require it.

        Unless you are in an emergency situation, your insurer may ask that you pay for your reasonable expenses initially, and then pay you back later.

        If you are injured or sick overseas, get a doctor to give you a medical certificate. Keep your receipts for your medical bills.

        If you lose luggage or personal belongings while travelling, you will need to file an incident report with a local authority to get what happened in writing. Either get your transport provider (like your airline or train company) to provide a letter explaining what happened, or tell the local police. They should provide you with a letter noting the time, date and circumstances of what happened.

        If you have any big problems overseas, New Zealand Embassies, High Commissions and representative offices can help. They can talk to you when things go wrong, and help if you lose your travel visas or passport. Embassies will sometimes also offer assistance if you fall seriously ill overseas.

        Here is a link to a list of New Zealand's diplomatic missions by country: www.nzembassy.com.

        If you have any questions, talk to your insurer.

        How do I complain or resolve a dispute?

        Insurance is a contract between the insurer and the customer based on the principle of "good faith". By paying a premium, the customer depends on the insurer to provide a service and to settle claims fairly and efficiently.

        In turn, the insurer relies on the customer to act honestly, and to accurately disclose all information relevant to the insurer being able to provide insurance cover that meets the customer's needs.

        The Fair Insurance Code was developed by the Insurance Council as a set of principles which aims to continually improve the standard of practice and service member companies provide to their customers. This set of principles is in additional to those obligations created by the law.

        While the Insurance Council administers the Code, it is not responsible for its enforcement.

        If you have a complaint about your personal insurance, there are a number of steps that you should take:

        • Contact your insurance company and give them the details of your complaint.
        • If the insurance company is unable to resolve your complaint, you can make a formal complaint to your insurance company's person responsible for handling complaints.
        • When your formal complaint is received, your insurance company must do the following: 
        1. Acknowledge your complaint within three working days.
        2. Investigate your complaint and advise you of its progress or outcome within ten working days
        3. If the company is unable to resolve your complaint within two months they must advise you of your right to take the complaint to their independent, external disputes resolution scheme. The scheme is free for you to use.

        Dispute resolution schemes

        You can find out more information about the dispute resolution schemes here