New Zealanders struggle to afford home insurance as prices rise - Consumer NZ

People are increasingly worried about the cost of home and contents insurance, a Consumer New Zealand survey has found.

Of those surveyed, half were worried about the price of insuring their home, and 7 percent of those without cover had cancelled or not renewed their policy because of the cost.

For those without contents insurance, 17 percent said they could not afford it.

Consumer NZ investigative team leader Rebecca Styles said it showed some were "priced out of insurance protection".

Comparing quotes, the consumer watchdog found over the past year, the cost of insuring a standard house had risen by 17 percent in Hamilton, 15 percent in Auckland, and 14 percent in Dunedin.

Although last year Wellington was the most expensive region to insure a standard and large home, the price hike comparison for a standard house was just 5 percent in the latest survey.

The data was based on quotes from seven insurers for a couple with a standard-sized house insured for $450,000 and contents for $90,000.

Over the past 10 years, the cost of house and contents insurance jumped by 150 percent, according to Consumer Price Index data.

Consumer NZ believed one of the factors behind the increase was that the Earthquake Commission (EQC) levy, which is paid with insurance premiums, went from $345 to a maximum of $552 in October.

It means EQC will cover $150,000 more than before for damage caused by natural disasters.

Styles told Morning Report insurers were also increasing prices because they were seeing more risk in extreme weather events and earthquakes.

Consumer NZ would support a market study into the industry to ensure it was fair for all New Zealanders.

"I think it would make it clearer and transparent about how insurance is priced and what the risk based for the prices are and how insurers are working out the premiums that New Zealanders are paying," Styles said.

Customer satisfaction

While prices went up, customer satisfaction did not seem to climb with it, Consumer NZ said.

Consumer NZ's survey showed ASB, BNZ and Westpac's performance in the house and contents insurance area was rated as below-average.

Medical Assurance Society (MAS) and FMG (previously Farmers' Mutual Group) got top scores for price, customer support and value for money.