WoF and CoF issuers must have professional indemnity and public liability insurance – NZTA

Auckland, New Zealand., As at the end of last year the New Zealand Transport Agency holiday-car-rentalintroduced new regulations that require companies that issue vehicle WoFs (Warrant of Fitness) and CoFs (Certificate of Fitness) to have public liability and professional indemnity insurance in place.

Essentially, the public Liability and professional indemnity insurance for companies issuing WoFs must be sufficient with regard to the activities the organisation has been appointed to carry out.

Businesses that issue vehicle CoFs must have public liability and professional Indemnity insurance with a minimum level of cover of $1 million.

Where a company issues a WoF or CoF, that company is certifying that a vehicle is safe to drive on the road. If something happens, the wheel falls off for example, and an accident results causing the death of a third party, accountability may be traced back to the company that certified the vehicle as being safe for the road.

A driver can turn around and say he or she had put their trust in service centre to ensure the vehicle met safety requirements.

If, for example, an inspector was negligent or missed something, the public liability insurance will cover the damages. However, if financial loss results – for example to the vehicle or in lost earnings – this may only be a loss that is covered under a professional indemnity insurance.

Businesses issuing WoFs and CoFs must comply with those requirements, they have no choice.

Insurer AMP (the policy is underwritten by Vero Insurance) has identified a risk to the vehicle inspector and have added a professional indemnity option to the public liability insurance – an all-in-one package for much less the cost than having two separate policies.

This includes $500,000 professional indemnity cover for $600 per year, compared to regular policies which cost between $1000 to $1500.

Introducing Crash Management: Free, convenient, an absolute pleasure

If you don’t know about Crash Management’s services, I’d like to point you in their direction because I’ve just used their services myself (after a minor collision) and they made my life a lot easier.

Crash Management is a business that takes care of all of the hassle from woe to go, and it won’t cost you (or your Insurer) a cent.

They will collect your vehicle, provide you with a free loan car, select an accredited repairer nearest you and valet the car when it’s done, before returning the vehicle to you.

Once I had lodged a claim with my insurer, I called Crash Management and gave them my claim number and they took care of the rest, including sending me an online link where I could watch the progress of repairs and receive an anticipated delivery time.

The service is funded by crash repairers but, unlike going direct to most crash repairers, you won’t be charged for your loan car and you will get a free, late model vehicle.

Vehicle insurance: don’t let changing circumstances catch you with your pants down

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people who have vehicle accident claims – and a cause of extra cost or delays – is failing to inform your insurer about change of user or purpose.

For example, when you took out your car insurance your children may not have been old enough to drive and you would naturally have excluded under 25s from your policy. Your children grow up, and suddenly your son uses the car daily to go to university… and that’s where the trouble begins.

Perhaps you were employed when you first took out your policy, but since then you have decided to go out on your own and start a business. This means your vehicle is no longer being used for private purposes, but for business… and that’s where the trouble begins.

The consequences of not changing these seemingly small details include having your claim declined, delayed or the difference in premiums (that you should have paid) being deducted from the total claim amount due you – all in all it’s harder on the back pocket and very inconvenient.

Most often the biggest delays come from crash investigators who may go as far as to request your cell phone to see if you were texting. They could investigate social media and even interview people at, for example, the function you or your son or daughter attended.

I have seen what staggering levels claim investigators – many ex-police – will go to in order to see how often your son uses the car, even asking the driver of the other vehicle whether he/she smelt alcohol on the driver at the time of the incident. They will write their own reports and request police incident reports –- all of these impact on your desire to simply see your car back on the road again.

The long and the short of it is to remember to regularly review your insurance cover and make sure it is up to date with your changing circumstances.

House & Contents Insurance: Will your insurance company pay to clean your house?

If your house has been flooded, most insurance companies will pay for the clean-up and any other flood damage mitigation steps you may have to take.

I recently had a client call me over the weekend because the lower level of her house was flooded. I advised her to get a cleaning company in – even over the weekend – and let them use their industrial dryers to get the place into shape. The fact that it was over a weekend and possibly more expensive was not important because it was an emergency.

The cost of the clean up is included – provided the claim is accepted in the first place (which it will be if you’ve taken out a reasonable policy) – because cleaning and drying the property helps to minimise flood damage.

Other actions, such as punching a hole in the wall so water can escape, hiring a pump or dumping rubble to channel flood water away from the house will also be covered because, again, you are minimising your flood damage and ultimately, how much the insurance company has to pay out.

The most important thing is to make sure you have good house and contents insurance because house flooding is becoming more and more prevalent. Our drainage systems aren’t coping very well anymore, and of course changing weather patterns – increase in heavy rainfall and weather bombs – are heightening the incidence of flood damage (clay shrinkage after dry weather also raises the risk of flooding).

One final tip, when taking out a house and contents insurance policy, make sure to check what excess you will be required to pay when you claim or cold water won’t be the only shock you get.

A string of pearls and the insurance ombudsman

It makes my blood boil when I read journalists and other financial gurus advising people to ‘take it to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman’ if you’re not happy with the outcome of your claim. The reality is that taking a claim to the ombudsman is extremely complex and not a ‘given’. storm

The Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman is a last resort, and will only look at you when you present a letter of deadlock from your insurer. This is a literal, physical letter from your insurer advising you that they will not budge, and neither it seems will you, so the claim is at deadlock. Only then will the Ombudsman consider your claim – but there is plenty of water that has to go under the bridge before then.

The Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman will insist that you exhaust every avenue, every process and every appeal available to you through your insurer before bringing the issue to them – they must be convinced that you have exhausted every avenue with your insurer, and the letter of deadlock is evidence of that.

Very few cases go through to the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, because the insurer is always going to try and resolve it. If the call is marginal, they will err on the side of paying out the claim because it does not look good for their reputation, and they would far rather avoid the time and money involved in the disputes resolution process.

A client of mine recently had her house burgled, and a string of pearls was stolen. The pearl necklace was originally owned by her mother and was purchased in the 1960s. The insurer offered a pay-out of $300 because, they said, pearls were expensive in the 1960s and it is unlikely her mother could have afforded to buy an authentic string of pearls.

I called the insurer up and asked them if they really thought they could win this in court. Did they seriously believe a court would accept their guess that the pearls were not real when they had absolutely no knowledge of the client, her mother or their circumstances? They came back to me within four hours with a settlement of $3,000.

A declined claim is never the end, and the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman is always a last resort. Most often these things can be settled amicably by following the process with your insurer.

Avoid post-holiday insurance claims

With summer holidays just around the corner many of us of as are looking forward to packing up, abandoning home and heading off on holiday. Unfortunately this is the time of year that burglars love! Follow these simple steps and you’ll help minimize the risk of burglary.

  • Don’t’ let your mailbox overflow. Get in touch with New Zealand Post to stop your mail, or ask a neighbour to collect it daily.
  • It’s great if you have a neighbour who can close your curtains daily. If not, leave them open (or as you would during the day). If all your curtains are closed day after day it screams that no one is home.
  • Try and control your excitement (and limit jealousy) by not posting on social media about your holiday until you are back in your own bed. Even if you’re just sharing with friends and family, others may be able to read comments and they will know you’re away.
  • Use light timers indoors and make sure your outside security lights are functioning.
  • If you’ve got an alarm, turn it on. Even if you don’t have an alarm putting the alarm surveillance stickers on your windows can be a good idea.
  • Keep all spare house keys and car keys hidden, as if you do get broken into it can prevent thieves making a return visit.
  • Unplug as much as you can (ideally everything except the fridge). This will help protect you from power surges.
  • Hide all valuables (or anything that looks valuable) from view.

The Home Owner’s Guide to Fire and General Insurance in New Zealand

Learn how a lot of problems can be avoided with proper planning and a few extra dollars.

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