Human rights issues involving an Australian multinational insurance company operating in New Zealand
Lead NCPNew Zealand
Supporting NCP(s)Australia
DescriptionSpecific instance notified by an NGO regarding the activities of an Australian multinational insurance company operating in New Zealand.
Theme(s)Human rights
Date21 Nov 2013
Host country(ies)New Zealand
Industry sectorFinancial and insurance activities

On 21 November 2013  two individuals supported by an NGO submitted a specific instance to the New Zealand NCPalleging that their treatment by a multinational company via its subsidiary, in the management of insurance claims arising from the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquake had breached their human rights.
More specifically, the submission alleged that long delays, disputes over assessments, unnecessarily complications and issues of conduct by the multinational company’s representatives in the settlement of their claim caused them stress and discomfort and adversely affected their mental and physical wellbeing, thus breaching their right to the highest attainable standard of health set out in article 12(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). 

After reviewing the information and after further inquiries, the NCP decided that the issues raised by the individuals were bona fide, merited further consideration, and were relevant to the implementation of the Guidelines. 

In July 2014, i the NCP accepted the specific instance, subsequently met with both parties and offered its good offices to assist them to undertake a dialogue to seek a mutually agreed resolution of the issues between them. Both parties were amenable to this and engaged positively in the process.

In June 2015, a facilitated mediation meeting was held between the parties in where both parties agreed that the issues had been resolved to their mutual satisfaction.  It was agreed that the multinational company would send the individuals Mr and Mrs Y a formal letter of apology relating to certain aspects of the way in which their insurance claim had been managed and that the NCP would be informed when this had been done.  At the conclusion of meeting, the multinational company gave the individuals a recording of all telephone calls made between them and the representative of the company who had overseen their claim, to confirm its view that that the conduct of the representative had at all times been acceptable.

Subsequent to being informed by the multinational company in early August 2015 that the letter of apology had been sent, the NCP contacted the applicants to inquire as to progress so that the case could be concluded.  The individuals asked that the specific instance remain open due to ongoing concerns and possible legal action. 

During 2015 and 2016 the NCP inquired whether the individuals intended to seek any further involvement by the NCP. In July 2016, the individuals informed the NCP that they had concluded that they would be unlikely to succeed in any further claim, so requested that the specific instance be closed. 

Following consultation with the parties, a final statement was agreed in November and issued in December 2016