New Zealand - Insurance

The government provides insurance through the Government Life Insurance Office and the State Insurance Office, which undertakes accident, fire, and marine insurance.

New Zealand has one of the world's highest ratios of value of life insurance policies to national income. Life insurance offices mobilize long-term household savings in conjunction with the provision of life insurance coverage, and are also closely associated with the management of pension and superannuation funds. The long-term contractual nature of household-sector savings through life insurance offices gives them the capacity to acquire long-term government and corporate debt instruments and to take equity positions in commercial property and company shares. In addition, they may provide mortgage financing to policy holders. General insurance companies have substantial funds available for investment to cover claims outstanding and unexpired risks. These funds are available on a short-term basis and are invested mainly in marketable securities and liquid assets. New Zealand has a no-fault compensation scheme for personal injury, established in 1992 under the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act of 1992. All people, including visitors are eligible for the benefits. Under the same act, however, the right to sue for compensation was abolished.

Like its Australian counterpart, the New Zealand insurance market is one of the most competitive in the world, with some 50 general insurers and the same number of life insurers. The top five general insurers accounted for more than 70% of the total premiums written in 1997; the same pattern exists for life business.

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