We know insurance premiums are a significant expense for most Kiwis. Most premiums would go up as we get older, that’s just how insurance works. But we also know how important it is to be covered. When our clients are facing affordability issues, we always encourage them to speak to an adviser before making any decisions.


When our client Cecilia called her adviser at Apex Tauranga, after receiving a premium increase notice from her insurance company AIA, she wasn’t expecting that phone conversation to change her life.

Cecilia had had her life and critical illness cover with AIA in place since 2007. When she took out her insurance she was thinking about her loved ones, she wanted to protect them should anything unexpected happen to her. “In my mind, I was thinking about the unlikely case I was in a severe car accident or something along those lines”, says Cecilia. “I did review my insurance throughout the years, after major life changes, to make sure everything was still inline”.

In 2020, Cecilia received a letter from AIA notifying her of expected premium increases. “My policy was going to cost me more than $500 a month, and with everything going on in my life at the time, I just couldn’t afford the new premium. So I called Apex Tauranga, to discuss this with an adviser”, Cecilia says.

She spoke to Theresa Pharo. “We just had a good conversation. She really listened to me. I wasn’t expecting anything, I just needed to explain why I couldn’t afford the new premium amount for the insurance anymore and to discuss what we could do about it”, she says. Cecilia told Theresa how she and her husband were dealing with large mortgage repayments after repairing a leaky home. They had to take another substantial mortgage to deal with the work needed. They had initially expected to be renting for 3 months, but it was almost 12 months before they were finally able to return to their home.

To top it off, Cecilia had a breast cancer diagnosis 18 months ago.

She remembers she was called in for a routine mammogram in December. She delayed the scan over the Christmas period and because of the move back into their family home, and finally got it booked in February. “When I was leaving for the appointment, I told my boss that I had a routine test scheduled and that it shouldn’t take long. I was expecting to just be out for my lunch break. That’s not how it worked out.”

After the scan, she was asked to go across the hall for ultrasound, then to fill in forms and then taken to meet with the surgeon straight away. A few weeks later she was having surgery and not long after that, she started radiotherapy.

When Cecilia told Theresa about this, it was simply as part of the conversation, but Theresa assessed the situation and told Cecilia she should put an application to claim on her critical illness cover. “Theresa told me she wasn’t making any promises, but that it was worth putting the application forward. To be honest, I didn’t dare hope for much at that stage. I was just expecting them to say no”, says Cecilia, “so although I put in an application to claim, I decided not to dwell on it”.

Cecilia got her claim approved a few weeks later. “I was at work when I received the email. I was totally shocked, I just couldn’t believe it. It was so huge an event for me that it took me 4 or 5 days to process the news and tell my husband. I kept re-reading the email and it still seemed unbelievable”.

“You hear a lot of negativity around insurance. Most people might think that insurance companies are large faceless corporate monoliths who try their best not to pay out claims. But that was not my experience with Apex and AIA at all. I’m so very grateful I picked up the phone and spoke to Theresa. What would have happened if I hadn’t spoken to her? More than likely I would have just cancelled my insurance on account of the larger premium, without knowing I was eligible to make a claim”, says Cecilia. “Theresa was the right person at the right time”.

With the claim payout, Cecilia and her husband have paid off one of their mortgages taken out to pay for the rebuild of the home. “As my husband says, we were just plodding along trying to pay the mortgage repayments and get out of that debt. It felt like that was all we did and talked about. Now thanks to my insurance payout, our future is a lot less daunting. We don’t feel as if we have the same level of stress now, I will never be able to thank Theresa and Apex enough.  I never would have dreamed anything like this could happen to me. But it has been life-changing for us”.

Our role is to provide good information so you can make good decisions. If you are ever concerned about your insurance premiums or you have questions around your existing cover, get in touch, we’re here to help.