The Human Rights Commission has released guidelines to help insurers, and potentially other businesses and social sector agencies, to prioritise vulnerable customers.
The guidelines were developed following a Commission review that found there was a variation across insurers in terms of how they determined vulnerability and then supported those customers, following the Canterbury earthquakes.
Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says the guidelines are an example of what can be achieved by working with key stakeholders to develop responsive and customer-focused practices and policies.
“People who are vulnerable are less able to cope with and recover from stresses and pressures, which is why there is a responsibility to ensure their needs are incorporated into business practices and policies.
“The aftermath of Canterbury earthquakes has highlighted the need for consistent approaches to how vulnerable customers are prioritised. The guidelines will be an invaluable resource for insurers, and potentially other businesses and social sector agencies, going forward.
“We appreciate the input we have had from New Zealand insurers and the Insurance Council of New Zealand to help us develop the guidelines, and the support we have had from the Canterbury District Health Board and the New Zealand Red Cross to review them.
Tim Grafton, Chief Executive of the Insurance Council of NZ said, “It was useful working with the Human Rights Commission and the Insurance Council welcomes the development of these guidelines for prioritising vulnerable insurance customers. Along with members' own commitment to the Fair Insurance Code, these guidelines will help as a tool for guiding insurers' overall service to their customers."
New Zealand Red Cross Recovery Manager Michael Donoghue welcomed the new guidelines.
“I applaud this as a significant first step to identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable people in the community. The challenge now is to implement and use these guidelines as standard practice.”
The benefits of the guidelines will be not only felt by those customers who are vulnerable, but also by the businesses that are using them.
“Businesses are increasingly realising that embedding human rights considerations, such as vulnerability, can provide real benefits including customer loyalty, greater employee satisfaction and local and global recognition for their efforts,” Mr Rutherford says.
To read the guidelines, visit this link.