'It's over 300 per cent!' Wellington woman shocked by $5000 increase in insurance

The ripple-effect from recent big earthquakes to rock the country is now starting to hit some homeowners hard.

Source: 1 NEWS

One Wellington woman, Ursula Egan, has had her house insurance increase by $5000 a year.

This follows Tower Insurance using new risk-based pricing which means people living in earthquake-prone areas pay a lot more, while others pay less.

Ursula has lived in her Karori house for nearly 30 years and last week was told her premium would rise from $2200 to $7200.

"It's over 300 per cent. That is way, way above anything I would have expected. I would expect some sort of hike, but nothing like that," she says.

Ms Egan disputes that she's in a high-risk area like Tower say.

"We have made no claims. We've had no damage done as a result of any of the earthquakes either in Christchurch or Kaikoura. So I don't see how they can justify increasing it that much," she says.

Tower Insurance's chief executive Richard Harding told RNZ that Wellington accounted for around two-thirds of the cost of the Kaikoura earthquake claims two years ago.

"The country has known for years that Wellington is a significant risk. What we're doing is applying a specific price to that so people can understand what that risk looks like," he says.

The risk-based pricing announced by Tower in March means customers in high earthquake risk areas like Wellington, Napier and Gisborne could see a premium increase. Customers in Auckland, Taranaki and Northland - low earthquake risk regions - will see a small decrease.

1 NEWS contacted other insurers today. Vero already uses a risk-based pricing system for home insurance. AA insurance does not, and has no intention of doing so. IAG would only say its pricing is constantly reviewed.

The Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton believes Tower is sending a wake-up call to homeowners and councils.

"Should we be consenting to build houses on vertical slopes in high risk areas? Is that a wise thing to be doing?" Mr Grafton says.

Meanwhile, Ms Egan is now shopping around for a new insurance company.