Insurance reporting 101: insurer bad, client good

Take the article at this link, as an example: "Insurers may not pay out for coronavirus-related claims" Click here to read it at the site of Insurance Business NZ. The depressing thing is that the people interviewed in the article were actually talking about all the ways they will pay out - for example, if your travel is disrupted. The one circumstance under which they won't pay is this: 

“If your travel arrangements aren’t affected by the outbreak, but you have changed your mind or are nervous about travelling, there is no provision to claim under your policy.”

That's it. Horror of horrors, you aren't insured for changing your mind, but that gets made into the headline. One might be forgiven for thinking that the media had some sort of briefing card which says "insurance companies are always - always - to be painted in the worst possible light - select your headlines accordingly"

The most expensive places to fall ill on holiday

In this article Southern Cross travel insurance has revealed a list of the top 10 most expensive places for Kiwi travelers to fall ill. The United States tops the list at number one, followed by Australia - While the average medical bill per traveler is lower than in other countries (averaging only $555) the proximity and popularity of Australia as a holiday destination makes it a big source of medical bills for travelers. The article also states the average claim by destination with Israel topping the list at $20,600.

Travel insurance premiums show it's worth shopping around

Canstar has done some research which shows a large variation in the cost of travel insurance. "Premiums will differ but always make sure that the cover you get is right for you.  Research thoroughly, make sure you know what your policy covers, and make sure it's right for you and your trip," says Jose George, Canstar general manager. There is a comparative table in this article on

Having said that, it isn't all about price, but as ever, the media stay anchored to it. To be fair the following quotes were included: 

"Obviously insurance products vary greatly in the nature and level of coverage they offer. It's not possible to make any meaningful comparison with the policies you mention without being very clear about the nature of cover each of them offers."

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said one of the main reasons policies differed in price was because they offered different coverage, limits and benefits. 

"We encourage people not to compare on price but to decide what protection they need and look into what each policy is offering." 

But no actual example of the policy difference was mentioned. Why is that?

  • Is it because there was no adequate benefit to illustrate the point? In which case its the insurer's inability to defend their value proposition - and that in itself would have been worth some reporting on. 
  • Is it because the insurers did explain their value proposition and the journalists left the example out, in which case, consumers deserve better reporting

Obviously, I am biased by the fact of my involvement in Quality Product Research Limited, but I think this underlines that price comparison alone is insufficient to provide a meaningful basis for a decision. 

nib Launches New Health Insurance Products for Migrants

nib has launched a new product designed for migrants arriving in NZ. “Nib becomes the first health insurer to embrace the changing demographics of an increasingly diverse New Zealand, transforming its business and health insurance product range to cater for all Kiwis,” said the media release from the health insurance provider. Click here to read more.

An Intriguing Career Move: Teach Now

A financial columnist at the AFR, Lucy Kellaway, is leaving to go and teach in London. It is a break from our usual insurance-focused financial news. However, I know that a good number of readers are interested and have acquired great skills in long careers in advice or management. If you have something to offer, it can almost always be used with gratitude somewhere else. We should have a programme like this here. Link

Kiwi woman stuck in Malaysian hospital amid insurance stoush

This article on describes one lady's story of how her travel insurance will not pay out as the insurer is claiming the pneumonia she is suffering from in Malaysia is linked to a pre-existing condition, COPD. Without wishing to comment on this particular unfortunate circumstance it is worth reflecting that just because your own doctor, who has a particular desire to take care of you, has a particular view of a condition that doesn't mean that view will be shared by everyone. Insurance advice can help. 

Safety-Conscious Kiwis Changing the Way They Travel

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a list of areas which pose an "extreme risk" and warns that they should not be traveled to. The list includes Turkey which underwent a failed military coup last week but has also been the target of a number of terrorist attacks.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive Craig Morrison says that due to Turkey's high-risk rating tourists will not be covered by travel insurance if they are affected by terrorism.

"Because Turkey has 'extreme' and 'high' risk ratings by MFat due to the unpredictable security situation, security force operations, threats of terrorism and kidnapping and the potential for violence and civil unrest, travellers going into that country take on a large risk and will not be covered for events related to this risk," he said.

"However, if you have to travel to an 'extreme' or 'high' risk country it's still a safe bet to be insured as while the policy won't cover you for events noted on the MFAT website, you'll be covered for expenses such as theft, illness or injury, provided they don't relate to the extreme or high risk events." Read more in NZ Herald here.

Southern Cross Cracking Down on Travel Insurance Fraud

Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Craig Morrison talks to Mike Hosking in this clip about the issue they are facing with travel insurance fraud. It is believe they receive about 1,500 people making false claims each year, and they are all related to lost/stolen property. Travellers use forged letters from overseas hotels, taxi drivers, and police to support their claims and are increasingly being caught out. 

Read more here.