Insurers Halting Earthquake Coverage in New Zealand

Ansvar Insurance announced it will no longer offer coverage anywhere in the country, while Zurich will stop writing new coverage outside of Auckland, Northland, and Waikato.

Two companies that had provided earthquake coverage to businesses and homeowners in New Zealand announced last week that they will stop offering it throughout the country, in the case of Ansvar Insurance, or will no longer offer coverage outside of Auckland, Northland, and Waikato -- which leaves out the earthquake-prone city of Christchurch, where there was extensive damage from a powerful earthquake in February 2011.

Bernard Hickey, managing editor of Interest.co.nz, a service providing research and information about banks and financial institutions in the country, reported both announcements, which quickly were picked up by New Zealand's news media.

Hickey reported that Ansvar is the largest insurer of churches and heritage buildings in New Zealand and sustained $700 million in losses from the February earthquake. In an interview, Ansvar's chief executive for Australia and New Zealand, told Hickey the damage was greater for his company than for other insurers because Ansvar insured so many stone buildings. He said the risk of future earthquakes and the high cost of reinsurance drove the decision.

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