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Study may reveal reason for lack of life insurance


Master’s student Natalie Wang

While some consider it an essential expense to protect loved ones, as few as one in three New Zealander families have life insurance policies.

Now a Master of Management student is carrying out research into why most people do not insure their lives and whether the barriers are due to social, cultural or financial reasons – or simply a lack of information.

Natalie Wang, who is majoring in banking, is seeking 500 people to take part in an online survey to establish the factors that influence consumers’ life insurance decisions.

Previous studies into the industry have found that two out of three New Zealand families have no life insurance cover or have inadequate cover. Furthermore almost half have no life, medical, income protection or critical care insurance at all.

Ms Wang says her research will help to understand what products people currently opt for, the drivers behind those decisions, how often they review policies and how important they feel it is to have cover.

“New Zealanders are lacking in life protection and I want to find out why,” she says. “There might be a lack of understanding about products, cultural factors, influence of family or friends who have made a claim or the ACC system meaning people choose not to take out personal insurance.”

Ms Wang, who works as a business banking consultant and studies through the School of Economics and Finance, says there is a lack of awareness about life insurance. “I also want to look at financial planning to see if people include it in their budget or think it should be part of the budget at all. People think about car insurance but many do not think about life insurance.” An estimated 93 per cent of private motor vehicles are insured in New Zealand.

Her supervisor, Dr Claire Matthews from the Centre for Banking Studies, says life insurance covers more than just death and funeral costs. “Life insurance is an important product because it can provide cash at a time when it is really needed,” she says. “It also covers trauma, disability and medical insurance. However, we don’t know how New Zealanders make decisions about what types of life insurance to have, and how much to have.”

The research will help inform the insurance industry.

The survey can be completed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3KPCC35

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