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House and contents insurance

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Switching insurers can save you money.

Protect your assets against major disasters and minor mishaps with the right house and contents insurance policy. We explain what to look for, ways to save, and review policies and premiums for 10 insurers.

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Insurance after an earthquake

Following the Kaikoura earthquake, have you found it difficult to arrange house insurance for a new property or increase the sum insured for an existing property?

If so, we’d like to hear from you. Let us know which insurer(s) you dealt with, where you live and when you attempted to arrange cover.


Our survey

You could save up to $1000 a year on your house and contents insurance by switching companies.

We asked insurers to quote annual premiums for our 4 profiles: a young professional; a couple buying their first home; a family of 4; and a retired couple. The premiums for everyone except our young professional are based on comprehensive house and contents policies. The premiums for our young professional are based on a comprehensive contents policy.

The difference in annual premiums can vary significantly (see our calculator). And while the policies are broadly similar, it still pays to check the fine print to make sure your prized possessions are fully covered. Our insurance database compares each insurer’s policy cover.

Become a paying Consumer member to find out more.

Premium calculator

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About our profiles

The cover

  • Young professional - contents-only policy for $35,000 worth of belongings
  • First-home buyers - house cover of $600,000 plus contents insurance for $100,000 worth of belongings
  • Family of four - house cover of $980,000 plus contents insurance for $140,000 worth of belongings
  • Retired couple - house cover of $800,000 plus contents insurance for $120,000 worth of belongings

We’ve made these assumptions:

  • Our first-home buyers, family of 4 and retired couple own the houses they live in. Our young professional rents with 2 others.
  • No one has made a claim in the past 5 years.
  • No one runs a business from home.
  • All the properties include a single-storied stand-alone house and a carport. The houses have weatherboard cladding, a corrugated iron roof and a monitored alarm.

Most companies offered discounts for taking out combined house and contents insurance policies and for remaining claims-free over a set number of years. Most also offered a discount if the house had a monitored alarm. We accepted all these discounts.

Not included

We sent our survey to 16 providers which sell house and contents insurance direct to the public. 6 declined to participate: ANZ Bank (underwritten by Vero), Westpac (underwritten by Lumley), FinTel, Kiwibank, Tower and TSB Bank (all underwritten by Tower Insurance).

AA Insurance is assessing homes in Christchurch case-by-case before deciding to insure them. FMG is concentrating on new business in rural areas in Canterbury. It continues to offer cover in Christchurch – but primarily for existing customers. Youi didn’t provide us with quotes for house or contents insurance in Hamilton.

Which company has the most satisified customers?

House insurance

Insurance providers (responses)[width=40%]Overall satisfaction[bar;width=40%]
MAS (299)82%
FMG (382)77%
AA Insurance (967)60%
Crombie Lockwood (52)58%
Aon (255)57%
Vero (284)52%
NZI (216)48%
AMI Insurance (1359)47%
State Insurance (1137)47%
AMP (203)46%
Tower insurance (571)44%
BNZ (175)43%
Westpac (188)41%
ANZ Bank (152)40%
ASB (205)40%
Lantern Insurance (167)39%
AVERAGE (6910)52%

Contents insurance

Insurance providers (responses)[width=40%]Overall satisfaction[bar;width=40%]
MAS (303)87%
FMG (394)79%
AA Insurance (1136)60%
Aon (235)58%
Crombie Lockwood (56)57%
Vero (257)56%
NZI (212)52%
AMP (203)51%
AMI Insurance (1444)49%
State Insurance (1265)48%
ASB (220)45%
ANZ Bank (146)43%
Tower Insurance (563)43%
BNZ (184)42%
Westpac (184)42%
Lantern Insurance (181)41%
AVERAGE (7295)54%

These results are from our 2016 insurance survey of 8000 Consumer NZ members.

Ways to save

Some suggestions on ways to save when shopping for insurance.

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Multiple events

Insurers apply an excess to each event or incident that results in a claim. But it’s not always so easy to separate one claimable event from another. One of our members awoke to find her domesticated rabbits, which sleep inside at night, had peed on the carpet throughout the house. Our member lodged a claim under her house insurance policy to replace her damaged carpet.

Her insurer determined the different stains constituted separate events and, therefore, multiple excesses of $1000 applied. As damage to the carpet in the two bedrooms cost less than $1000, it wasn’t worth a claim. Our member had to cover the damage in these rooms herself.

Should the insurer consider each stain an event? Or should the entire night be considered the event?

Policy definitions don’t necessarily clear up the matter. For instance, one insurer's home policy defines an event as: “a sudden and unforeseen occurrence that causes loss that is not intended or expected by you.” Inconveniently, our member’s policy didn’t define an event at all. It simply stated: “where you discover damage caused on multiple occasions, then an excess will be applied in relation to each occasion or event that occurred.”

At the very least, we think these clauses leave room for debate. It’s worth challenging your insurer if it attempts to apply multiple excesses when it’s unclear if the damage was caused by one or multiple events.

If you’re unhappy with your initial settlement, try to resolve the issue via your insurer’s internal complaints process. Still no luck? Refer the matter to your insurer’s independent dispute resolution scheme. By law, all insurers must belong to one.

Making a claim

Our tips for making a successful claim, and how to complain if your claim's rejected.

Our advice

Our advice on what to consider when shopping for insurance.

Want more advice? Upgrade to a Gold or Silver membership today.

Be reasonable

Insurance policies for your house, contents, car or travel contain a clause that reads “you must always take reasonable care to avoid circumstances that could result in a claim” or words to that effect.

To decline a claim under a clause for reasonable care, your insurer must prove you were grossly careless, negligent or reckless. It can’t decline your claim for run-of-the-mill carelessness. The Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) said “this is because insurance, by its very nature, protects the insured against negligence and mere inadvertence”.

So how does an insurer prove gross negligence? According to IFSO, it looks at the circumstances leading up to your loss and asks “would a reasonable person have run the same risks?” If the answer is “no”, it can decline your claim.

In addition, the benchmark for “reasonable care” depends on circumstances such as where an item was left and for how long. There’s a difference between leaving your baggage unattended in the locked boot of your car for 10 minutes and leaving it on the passenger seat overnight.

With this in mind, you can challenge your insurer if your claim is declined for failing to take reasonable care. All insurers must belong to an independent dispute resolution scheme such as IFSO or Financial Services Complaints Limited. If you and your insurer can’t settle the dispute, you can refer it to the applicable service.