News eDaily13 Jun 2017

New Zealand:Car crashes, vehicle technology, drive up premiums

13 Jun 2017

Insuring a car might be about to get a lot more expensive, with an increase in car crashes and more expensive high-tech vehicles being blamed for a hike in premiums.

Mr John Lucas, a motor insurance expert at the Insurance Council of New Zealand, said increased accident numbers and higher repair prices are behind the increase.

IAG, which accounts for half the insurance market through its brands such as State, NZI and AMI, said there were more cars on the road, particularly in congested cities like Auckland, which had led to more crashes, reported Radio NZ.

"The greater density means more accidents," IAG National Portfolio Manager Private Motor Judith Harvey said.

A larger proportion of newer cars on the roads has also pushed up the costs of fixing damaged vehicles. Because of new technology such as anti-crash sensors, replacing bumpers and wing mirrors in new cars could cost five or even 10 times more than for older, simpler models.

Insurers say they have no choice but to keep hiking premiums.

"As technology keeps on developing in vehicles, premiums will have to continue to go up because they will become more expensive to repair," Ms Harvey said.

Some fear it might persuade people to forgo insurance.

"I think it's inevitable that people with cheaper cars are simply going to say I can't afford this, so they'll take the risk for themselves," motor safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said.

Mr Matthew-Wilson said these people should be smart and have third-party insurance so if they hit a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes they did not end up going bankrupt.

Industry figures show total premiums for commercial and private vehicles rose 5.1% to NZ$1.6 billion (US$1.15 billion) in the year to September 2016, compared with the previous year. Earnings fell 4.6% to $NZ1.38 billion over the same period, while claims remained flat at NZ$1 billion. That pushed the loss ratio up to 74% from 70% in the previous year.


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