Confessing to insurance companies

WILL HARVIE
Last updated 11:04 12/02/2013

disclosure cartoonMy house insurance is up for renewal and I read the ''disclosures'' section of the certificate with surprise and then alarm.

Most Kiwis will be familiar with disclosure questions: Had any one in the ''situation'' been convicted of criminal offences other than traffic or parking infringements?  Had insurance cover or a claim ever been declined?

If you lie or dissemble on this sort of thing, the insurance company can refuse claims, so it's important to get it right.

Two disclosures on my certificate were incorrect, so I phoned the Tower call centre to confess.

"I have disclosures to make,'' I solemnly told the person who answered the phone.

''What disclosures would you like to make?''

''In the last five years,'' I said quoting the certificate, ''have you ... suffered loss or damage to property? The answer should be 'yes','' I said.

You're referring to the Christchurch earthquakes, stated the phone answerer.

''Yes, my house was damaged by earthquakes,'' I confessed.

Tower is aware of the earthquakes, the phone answerer said. Disclosure is not required.

I ploughed on, again quoting the certificate: ''Has the property suffered serious damage due to recurring natural disaster, for example, floods or earthquakes?
''The answer should be 'yes' -- recurring earthquakes,'' I confided.

The phone answerer was getting annoyed by this point. Tower doesn't view the Canterbury quake sequence as ''recurring'', I was told. Disclosure on this point is not required either.

Well thank goodness for that I wanted to say but the phone answerer became a phone hanger-upper (ever so politely) and I didn't get the chance.

You can never be careful enough with insurance companies and sometimes they can even take a joke. Or maybe not.

Anyway, I'm grateful that Tower has offered me renewal and that EQC's premium has leapt to $150.01. Shouldn't that be $250 or something? We'd pay it.

- The Press

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