Why your credit card insurance could be a complete waste of money

If you've got credit card insurance, it could be a complete waste of money. 

A review of the policy has found up to 200,000 Kiwis could be paying for something they don't need - but banks are making millions off it every year. 

They call it the plastic fantastic, but insuring any debt you incur on a credit card may be worthless. 

"Potentially you've had all of that time paying a premium, for nothing," said James Greig, Financial Markets Authority (FMA) Director of Supervision.

Credit card repayment insurance will cover any outstanding debt if you lose your job and can't pay it back, but a review of the policy by the FMA has ruled it "deplorable".

"[It's] $0.90 in the dollar that providers are profiting, which really does show that it's low-value," said Greig.

Credit card insurance is no longer being sold, but 200,000 Kiwis still have it, earning banks and insurers $20 million every year. 

Most of those customers may not even know they're paying for it. 

"It potentially just disappears into the background, and then years and years later, you might go to try and make a claim, and find that process really difficult," said Greig.

That's not all. The Authority also found some customers were not told the insurance was optional when they were sold it, the premiums they're charged are sometimes incorrect, and requests to cancel it are ignored. 

"The industry has been hugely complacent," Greig said.

The FMA has already taken the country's biggest bank to task on this. ANZ was ordered to pay a fine of $280,000 after it sold duplicate credit card insurance to 300 customers who were never actually covered. 

The regulator is warning it may take action against others, and its inquiries have not finished. Those on its watchlist include insurers AIA and Cigna, and all of the top banks. 

The FMA sent them a letter urging them to "remediate issues promptly". 

Newshub asked the Banker's Association to speak on Thursday, but it declined, saying it was still considering the report. It's only four pages-long.