The New Zealand private insurance sector is small by international standards. There are around 86 licensed insurers currently operating in New Zealand, accounting for approximately $32 billion in assets or 13 percent of GDP.1 2
Around 55 percent of the licensed insurers are foreign owned, and account for about 81 percent of total assets (figure 9). Not all insurers that operate in New Zealand are required to be licensed. The largest non-licensed insurers are government owned.
Figure 9: Insurer assets by ultimate ownership
Source: Insurers' private reporting.
Based on premium revenue earned in the June quarter of 2020, general insurance constitutes 63 percent of reported large private insurer business in New Zealand (figure 10), while life insurance and health insurance represent around 21 and 15 percent respectively. New Zealand’s life insurance share of total insurance business is low by international standards, due in part to New Zealand’s well-developed welfare system and the use of life insurance as a tax-efficient savings vehicle in other jurisdictions.
Figure 10: Insurance policy and premium revenue earned by sub-sector (June 2020)
Source: RBNZ Quarterly Insurer Survey.3
Unlicensed government-owned general insurers are the Accident Compensation Corporation (compulsory accident insurer), the Earthquake Commission (co-insurer of residential dwellings for certain natural disasters) and Southern Response Earthquake Services (a government-owned insurer resulting from the bailout of private insurer AMI following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11).
1 A list of licensed insurers can be found on our Register of licensed insurers in New Zealand.
2 The total asset value is derived from financial statements in which asset values may be accounted for differently across insurers.
3 The RBNZ Quarterly Insurer Survey only covers the largest licensed insurers, which account for almost 90 percent of the insurance market.
Financial market infrastructures (FMIs) provide channels through which payments, securities, derivatives or other financial transactions are cleared, settled or recorded. Well-functioning and efficient FMIs play a critical role in promoting financial stability and economic growth. FMIs can strengthen the markets they serve; if not managed properly, they can pose significant risks to the financial system and be a potential conduit or source of contagion. A stable financial system therefore depends on careful management and mitigation of key risks in the FMIs.
The banking system comprises the majority of lending to the non-financial private sector in New Zealand. Direct capital market funding (issuance of corporate bonds) and non-bank lending institutions (NBLIs) together account for only 6 percent of non-financial private sector borrowing.
Non-bank lending institutions (NBLIs) include non-bank deposit-taking institutions (NBDTs) and non-deposit-taking finance companies. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand regulates NBDTs, but does not regulate or supervise non-deposit-taking finance companies. NBLIs account for just over 3 percent of intermediated credit, mainly focusing on the business and consumer sectors (figure 8).
The Reserve Bank regulates banks, insurers, and non-bank deposit takers (NBDT), for the purpose of promoting the maintenance of a sound and efficient financial system. The Bank’s approach to prudential supervision is described in our Statements of supervisory and enforcement approaches. The Bank has no responsibility for non-deposit taking non-bank lending institutions (NBLI) or unlicensed insurers. The Reserve Bank also oversees and operates New Zealand’s financial market infrastructures.