In a cost of living crisis and rising interest rates, many Kiwis are struggling to get by.
Alarmingly, New Zealanders are also significantly underinsured, putting their loved ones at risk, findings from the Financial Services Council’s (FSC’s) latest research report Money and You – Taking Cover reveals.
The representative survey of over 2,000 New Zealanders found around 70% of New Zealanders are underinsured, putting their families and dependents at risk.
Only 11% of respondents reported having income protection insurance, 14% have total and permanent disability insurance, and 18% have cover for trauma or critical illness.
While respondents reported greater uptake of life insurance (38%) and health insurance (32%), an overwhelming percentage of the population are not covered should the worst happen.
“With the current cost of living crisis, an overwhelmed health system, and last week’s OCR increase, many Kiwis are struggling. Our annual Financial Resilience Index showed Kiwis are worrying about their finances and it’s affecting their overall wellbeing. Many haven’t lived through a recession or severe financial shock before and will be looking for support as they face these challenges for the first time,” says FSC CEO Richard Klipin.
“While it’s understandable some are, and should be, prioritising immediate needs, the latest findings are cause for alarm and reflect the importance of long-term thinking when it comes to our finances.”
The latest figures reveal:
Almost 9 in 10 Kiwis will be financially impacted should they lose their jobs.
8 in 10 Kiwis would struggle to support their kids and partners should they get into an accident that results in permanent disability.
8 in 10 Kiwis would face financial difficulties if faced with trauma or critical illness that left them unable to earn a living or look after their families.
Even with higher levels of life and health insurance, the report reveals there are still six in 10 Kiwis whose families would be left to cover things like funeral expenses, mortgage repayments and make ends meet with a loss of income should they suddenly pass away.
Almost seven in 10 Kiwis do not have health insurance, meaning they are relying on an overwhelmed public health system with increasing wait times.
This underinsurance would not be ringing alarm bells if New Zealanders were prepared for financial shocks, but other research by the FSC reveals that two in five people would be unable to access $5,000 if something unexpected were to happen.
“ We need to consider what would happen if you suddenly got sick or had an accident and were unable to earn a living. If you don't have access to emergency funds and don't have insurance, who else will be impacted and is relying on you to get by?” says Klipin.
“Being adequately insured is not so much about us as individuals, it’s actually about protecting the ones we love. Looking at it in this context, insurance is something you really can’t afford not to have.
“Yet over half of respondents find cost a major barrier to taking out insurance, with 55 per cent saying they would take out an insurance policy if they had more money.
Ryan Bessemer, CEO of Trustees Executors, the FSC’s research sponsor, was concerned about the findings.
“The consequences of not having insurance should the worst happen can create a heavy burden on whānau should they have to come up with costs for funerals, medical bills, mortgage repayments and so on,” he said.
“There’s a balance to get right, and Kiwi families deserve to both be able to protect themselves and their families while also being able to get by.”
“As an industry, we have a responsibility to help New Zealanders navigate the choppy waters and headwinds that are coming by making active and considered decisions about their financial futures,” added Klipin.
The FSC suggests consumers talk to a financial adviser about their options and consider alternatives to cancellation.
“We’re not saying that everyone should drop everything now and max out their insurance policies.
“What we are saying is to sit down, have a conversation with your household, and figure out how you might balance paying the mortgage and bills while looking after your family and your health.
“It all comes down to balancing short-term risks with longer-term ones, and understanding how your decisions and choices may impact your long-term financial wellbeing and those around you.”
The research report is available on the FSC’s website here.
The FSC will be holding an in-person research launch event this evening at EY Auckland from 5.00pm-7.00pm.
The research was conducted via an online survey developed and hosted by CoreData. Data was collected in January 2022 (2,000 valid complete responses). This data formed the basis of the analysis and this report. The samples are representative of the New Zealand consumer population in terms of age, gender and income based on the latest Stats NZ data. According to Stats NZ in March 2021 there was an estimated resident population of 5,116,300. As this survey only included respondents aged 18 years old or over, the estimated resident population of the sample is 3,944,700. The purpose of this survey was to better understand the financial confidence and wellbeing of New Zealanders.