Trusted advisers for insurance matters

Our national insurance team provides insurers and users of insurance services with the full spectrum of services including regulation and compliance, law reform, indemnity, claims, reinsurance and disputes.

We advise clients on the development and design of new insurance products, policy drafting, and captive insurance options.  We advise on issues of policy coverage and legislation affecting insurers and policy holders, and carry out insurance audits and risk analysis (with an emphasis on legal liability). We also advise on related financial adviser and securities law issues.

We act for insurers and insureds in the handling of insurance claims and represent both at all levels of the court system and in alternative dispute resolution procedures, including mediation and arbitration. 

We also advise on relationships and contractual arrangements between insurers, brokers and insurance intermediaries, including underwriting arrangements for insurance products offered by banks and other financial institutions.

The impact of the Canterbury earthquakes remains the most significant story in the New Zealand insurance market. Chapman Tripp was the primary legal adviser to the Earthquake Commission (EQC), New Zealand's statutory national disaster insurer, during the Christchurch earthquake events and their aftermath.

We have advised:

Commercial and regulatory
  • AMP on the New Zealand aspects of its AU$13b acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holdings, a two-step transaction involving a Scheme of Arrangement to allow the merger of AMP and AXA APH, followed by a sale to AXA by AMP of AXA APH’s Asian assets
  • ACS (Ansvar Insurance) then part of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office group, on the establishment of a contingent scheme of arrangement, the first scheme of its type in New Zealand, to deal with circa $800m of insurance claims as part of its managed withdrawal from the New Zealand market following the Canterbury earthquakes
  • Prudential Insurance Company of America on its acquisition of one of South Korea’s largest investment trust companies
  • the New Zealand Treasury in relation to the sale by AMI Insurance and its wholly-owned subsidiary, CLIC Car Insurance, of its non-Canterbury earthquake related assets and liabilities to IAG for $380m
  • on M&A transactions involving other insurers and insurance brokers, including Foundation Life's purchase of Tower Life, Maui Capital’s investment in Partners Life, and AUB Group's acquisition of a 50% shareholding in BrokerWeb Risk Services, and Runacres and Associates from IAG New Zealand Limited
  • a number of domestic and international insurers on New Zealand's insurance regulatory regime, including developing compliance programs for, and giving advice on, the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act and the acquisition and divestment of New Zealand insurance portfolios under the portfolio transfer mechanism in the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act
  • international insurers on when to be licensed and any applicable licensing requirements for insurers in New Zealand
  • major insurers such as AIG, NZI, FMG, QBE, Lumley and Vero on a wide range of professional indemnity, statutory liability and public liability claims, including settlement arrangements
  • major insurers on their distribution arrangements, broker contracts, Financial Advisers Act and AML obligations, and a range of other commercial matters, and
  • AMP on the development of a new personal lines insurance product to be marketed in conjunction with AMP’s KiwiSaver (government superannuation) scheme.
Claims and disputes
  • EQC on the full range of insurance and reinsurance issues generated as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-2011, enabling EQC to respond to the second largest body of claims in world history, including:
    • successfully representing EQC in the High Court, and subsequently in the Court of Appeal, on the question of whether Christchurch City Council’s decision to prevent homeowners from occupying their properties because of rockfall risk constituted physical loss of the property – an issue affecting hundreds of properties and multiple insurance firms
    • successfully representing EQC in a novel case to determine EQC’s response to residential land damage. The case involved multiple insurance companies with up to $1b at stake
    • successfully representing EQC in a proceeding before a Full Court of the High Court concerning the recognition of Increased Flooding Vulnerability (IFV) and Increased Liquefaction Vulnerability (ILV), and EQC’s proposed policy to evaluate and settle claims for IFV land damage. Following this Court decision, we advised EQC in relation to the implementation of its settlement policies for IFV, including communications with EQC’s customers, and assisting with the development of equivalent policies for ILV, and for properties with both IFV and ILV damage. This advice has included engaging with EQC’s other expert advisors in relation to the methodologies to assess ILV damage and the resulting loss in value
    • in proceedings brought by the ‘EQC Action Group’, a group of approximately 100 Christchurch homeowners adversely affected by the Christchurch earthquake sequence, seeking declaratory relief from the High Court in relation to EQC’s obligations under the EQC Act. We successfully resolved this matter prior to it going to court, effectively without EQC having to take any steps
  • Housing New Zealand on the review, negotiation and successful settlement of its $320m claim with Vero for major damage to its Christchurch and Canterbury properties
  • Public Trust, New Zealand's largest trustee organisation, on material damage and business interruption claims arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes
  • Vero and Vero’s insured waterproofing subcontractor under a professional indemnity policy. The waterproofing subcontractor was one of three defendants (together with the main contractor and project manager) responding to a claim filed in the High Court by a high end residential property owner for defective waterproofing works
  • major insurers such as AIG, NZI, FMG, QBE, Lumley and Vero on a wide range of professional indemnity, statutory liability and public liability claims, including settlement arrangements
  • Canterbury District Health Board on a significant claim concerning 22 buildings that suffered damage in the earthquakes, with the total amount in question in excess of $320m, and
  • AMP in a life insurance related dispute involving a very unusual insurance claim where a policyholder, who was acquitted of involvement in the murder of his spouse in Bangladesh, was pursuing AMP for a significant (circa $2m) life insurance payment and contesting the Official Assignees Rights under the insurance policy.



Recommended for insurance work by independent legal directories Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020 and Chambers Asia Pacific 2020.


Corporate & commercial; Financial services regulation; Health & safety; Litigation & dispute resolution; Property & real estate

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