Red Zones Report

Best practice guidelines for the prioritisation of vulnerable customers

Following the earthquakes some insurers proactively developed vulnerability criteria. Five years after the September 2010 earthquake, the Human Rights Commission surveyed New Zealand insurers (state and private) in order to understand how the industry was responding to the insurance claims of vulnerable customers. 

The responses provided by insurers revealed some variation in terms of how they determined vulnerability, as well as the policies and practices which they had in place to support customers identified as vulnerable. 

As a result of the Commission’s survey findings it raised with the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) the possibility of drafting a set of vulnerability guidelines which could be standardised across the sector and incorporated into operational practice. The Commission’s guidelines were reviewed by the NZ Red Cross and the Canterbury District Health Board, which both provided input. While the Canterbury earthquakes provided the catalyst for this piece of work, the guidelines have the potential to improve outcomes for vulnerable customers across all claims contexts and in the broader social services sector.

Why have guidelines?

While the catalyst for this research was the Canterbury Earthquakes, the needs of people affected by disaster are not unique. Vulnerability can be present across the claims spectrum. Consideration of vulnerability can be built into business operations from the point of sale to the time of claim, adding value to business by valuing customers and better managing risk.

An increasing number of businesses are using international standards to promote Responsible Business Conduct. Companies in all regions and sectors are demonstrating that a commitment to embedding human rights considerations (such as vulnerability) into their core business practices provides real benefits. Businesses like Coca-Cola and Unilever which are actively respecting human rights are already seeing benefits, including increased employee satisfaction, more inclusive workplaces and local and global recognition for their efforts.

Read the Guidelines

Best practice guidelines for the prioritisation of vulnerable customers (PDF)

Best practice guidelines for the prioritisation of vulnerable customers (Accessible Version)