7 Feb 2014

Slight fall in insurance payouts

7:20 am on 7 February 2014

The amount the New Zealand life insurance industry paid in claims in 2013 fell slightly from 2012, but was still the third successive year the industry has paid out more than $1 billion.

Figures collected by the Financial Services Council show the industry paid out $1.11 billion in personal insurance claims last year compared with $1.19 billion in 2012 and just over $1 billion in 2011.

Annual premiums in force in the three main categories, term life, trauma and replacement income insurance, rose 7 percent to $1.62 billion in 2013 compared with a year earlier.

Council chief executive Peter Neilson says the trend is towards increasing claims payouts despite the slight drop in 2013.

He says income protection insurance has grown by about 58 percent in one of the categories and payouts have increased by 95 percent, which is encouraging because it's the one insurance area where most New Zealanders are vulnerable.

Mr Neilson says if people get sick they have about two and a half times the chance of being off work for six months or more than if they had an accident.

He says everyone is covered for accidents by ACC, but only about one in five New Zealanders is actually covered for sickness.