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One in four New Zealanders have "No cash savings"

ANZ paid to survey over 1,500 Australians and New Zealanders to explore their financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in late 2017. The survey found that one in four Kiwis have no cash savings.

The absence of cash savings is of particular concern. Cash savings should be the first kind of insurance you buy - having a little money in a savings account can avoid all sorts of trouble. I teach my kids the value of having a bit put by - whether it is the unexpected invite for a friend's special occasion, a lost wallet, or an unplanned expense, the money is always useful.

Antonia Watson, ANZ's managing director of retail and business banking: "While most New Zealanders feel they are doing OK with money, we have a significant number without savings to fall back on."

The lack of savings has an impact on the insurance planning for this group - with a couple of exceptions. Many of these people will also be people that have no insurance - in effect, doubling down on their risk. For those that are very young, with family who can step in with help, and just starting out on their employment journey, this is perhaps something to be expected. Occasionally, everyone can get a bit stretched: between jobs for a couple of months, or stretching to buy a new house can create a similar cash crunch. That's not so bad if you have non-cash assets that you could always sell - and perhaps a little flexible credit facility to help you smooth out the bumps in between. But those two segments added up, should surely no equal a quarter of the adult population.

Click here to see some of the key finds from the report in an infographic. Here is the press release from ANZ and here is a pdf of the report.

Breakdown of massive travel insurance claims

Southern Cross Travel Insurance paid 10 claims over $100,000 each last year which ranged from $106,000 to $682,000. In this article on stuff.co.nz they breakdown exactly what two of these large claims covered. Some of them are monsters - huge claims. On the other hand, you can always get a sobering view of how insurers are viewed by the general public by reading the comments...

ASIC on Fees for No Service

ASIC has made this statement on the 'fees for no service' situation in Australia:

  • ASIC is and has been investigating AMP's conduct in relation to 'fees for no service' (FFNS) as raised in the evidence given at the Royal Commission.
  • This investigation has involved the FFNS conduct and related false or misleading statements to ASIC. ASIC has, as part of its investigation, received many thousands of documents and undertaken 18 examinations of AMP staff. ASIC is also ensuring that compensation is paid to impacted AMP clients.
  • ASIC has been cooperating with the Royal Commission on a range of matters that include both current and previous investigations.
  • More broadly, all financial institutions need to understand the importance of co-operating with the regulator and complying with the law when providing information to ASIC. Making false or misleading statements to ASIC can result in civil and criminal sanctions.
  • In accordance with our general policy on public comment we will not make further public statements about our investigation of these matters at this time.

It is the second-to-last dot point that should be considered with most pause. The Australian situation is different to the New Zealand one, laws are different, the superannuation environment is different, and the advice companies are different. People do make mistakes, and even make mistaken breaches of the law, and often, in commercial arrangements mistakes can be corrected - fees repaid, for example. I guess what ASIC is underlining here is that co-operation with the regulator is the best policy when such problems are found. I am aware of situations in New Zealand where companies have dobbed themselves in to the regulator, and have had situations dealt with in ways which successfully resolved the problem. 


Surgery cancelled with just 40 minutes notice

Here is one woman's story of how her surgery was cancelled 40 mins before it was due to begin leaving her very upset. 'Smith's experience is symptomatic of public hospitals' struggle to keep up with elective surgery needs.'

'District Health Boards (DHBs) are supposed to treat all patients within 120 days of a procedure being confirmed, but since June 2017, none have met the Ministry of Health-set target.' Click here to read more. 

Although cancellations can happen to anyone - and happen in the private sector too, of course - the real story here is how long the journey has been from diagnosis to treatment in total. It is that struggle which has led to the outpouring of emotion when the surgery was cancelled at late notice. In the article this woman talks of her life 'being on hold for six years'.

Consumers still confused by trauma policies

Kiwis are still confused by their Trauma insurance not covering what they expect it to. According to this article on stuff.co.nz New Zealanders spend $427 million on Trauma premiums per year and account for 5 percent of the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman's complaints.

It was fascinating to see that the article highlighted that consumers - presumably who have not read the policy document, or even much of the sales material - think that a payment will be made for an event that is 'traumatic'. This assumption is based on the modern use of the word 'trauma' to mean anything really unpleasant or shocking - i.e. psychological trauma. In fact the original definition of the word is based on physical harm. Of course, the policies actually pay out on specific listed events, some are related to physical harm, some to diagnoses, but the loose definition 'trauma' is used to cover them all. It illustrates that the 'name on the tin' is often as far at the consumer will look, or remember.

nib Ultimate Health Travel Insurance

nib have introduced a complementary travel insurance benefit to their Ultimate Health and Ultimate Health Max products. Travel cover applies for all lives insured on the Ulitmate health insurance policy and cover multiple overseas trips of up to 38 days each, taken during a maximum 12 month period.

The cover includes a range of benefits including, emergency medical and dental expenses incurred overseas, cancellation costs, damaged luggage, personal liability and more. Below is a summary table of some of the limits.



nib Product Enhancements

nib have announced a number of enhancements to their Ultimate Health, Ultimate Health Max and Easy Health cover.

The changes will apply to new and existing Ultimate Health Max, Ultimate Health and Easy Health business and there is a complementary travel insurance cover for new Ultimate clients.

Below is a table of the new benefits and upgraded benefits to Ultimate Health Max.

You can click here to read more and access the brochures, policy docs and application forms.