Car Insurance New Zealand – What you need to know

Quick navigation

Do you need car insurance in New Zealand?
How much does car insurance cost in New Zealand?
Are no claims discounts transferable to New Zealand?
Car insurance comparison in New Zealand
Car insurance companies in New Zealand
Car insurance in Auckland

Do you need car insurance in New Zealand?

In New Zealand car insurance isn’t compulsory like it is in the UK and throughout Europe. That being said, just because you don’t need insurance, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you’re involved in an accident and you are at fault you could find yourself in quite a financial difficulty.

Rego and ACC

The vehicle registration fee (or rego as it is more fondly called here) is like road tax in the UK but a large portion of the fee collected goes towards ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation). ACC provides support and compensation for personal injuries – i.e. a car accident, whether you are at fault or not. To find out more about the ACC check out our article here! It doesn’t cover the cost of vehicle repair for either party or any other costs associated with a car accident – which can get expensive very quickly.

How much does car insurance cost in New Zealand?

Coming from the UK, we’ve found car insurance prices in New Zealand to be very agreeable, cheaper – by about a third. In general it is a lot cheaper to keep a vehicle in NZ. Our fully comprehensive insurance policy with $300 NZD excess, cover for a $7000 NZD car costs $350 NZD per year. Paying for insurance yearly is always going to be cheaper, small administration and interest charges bump up the insurance premiums by as much as 30%. Most banks also charge for direct debit set up cost’s as well, so it is much better to pay it yearly.

Are no claims discounts transferable to New Zealand?

Car insurance companies in general will accept international no claims bonuses earned on cars outside of New Zealand from countries like the UK and USA. It’s strongly recommend that you bring proof of no claims with you.

Getting car insurance in NZ

Insurance quotes are fairly straightforward, insurers don’t tend to ask half as many questions as you might expect if you are from the UK or USA. Most insurance providers give a quick quote via their websites – these are then finalised over e-mail or telephone call with the insurance company.

Car insurance comparison in New Zealand

The thing that surprised us most about car insurance in NZ is the lack of automation, to get a feel for the market and find the cheapest provider I collected 3 online only, 5 partial telephone / online and two telephone only quotes. We’re kind of used to instant online quotes and easy insurance comparison engines. New Zealand doesn’t really have anything like this – yet. If you like a bargain you’ll probably spend a morning filling out forms and phoning around the different providers to get a sensible quote.

Car Insurance in Auckland

Living in Auckland, you should expect to pay more for car insurance than in Wellington or anywhere else in New Zealand. With a third of the Country compacted into a small city – car insurance is strongly recommended when driving in Auckland.

Driving with a UK or international driving license in New Zealand

You are legally allowed to drive in New Zealand for a period of 12 months using your UK or internationally accepted driver’s license. Some insurers however will not insure drivers with international licenses or bump up the premiums – by as much as $100 from our experience.

Travellers Car Insurance

If you are planning to do a tour of New Zealand, buy a van and hit the south island – that sort of thing tends to be more expensive. With our international driver’s license we found a couple of insurers would only offer us temporary cover at a much higher per day rate.

It may be worth your while, depending upon how long you plan to stay in New Zealand converting your license to a New Zealand license – the added benefit here is acceptable forms of ID. If you look under 25 here, well it feels more like if you look under 45 then you may be asked for ID to purchase cigarettes and alcohol everywhere – which really gets tiring after a while!

What types of insurance cover are available?

Just as you would expect, New Zealand insurance providers offer third party, third party fire and theft and fully comprehensive policies. Temporary (short term) and annual policies are available.

A List Of Car insurance companies in New Zealand

The AA




You I

We’d recommend contacting the company you bank with as well and your local insurance broker.

The NZ Open Road!
The NZ Open Road!

What you need to know about driving in New Zealand

In New Zealand, much like the UK they drive on the left hand side of the road. It is also illegal to park on the right side of the road facing oncoming traffic. We learned this first hand, paid our fine and won’t be doing that again! For more tips about driving in New Zealand check out our article here!

To finish, do shop around and compare insurance, read reviews and find out what others think of their car insurance provider. Remember the cheapest isn’t always the best choice, $50 less for a legal protection or hire car while your vehicle is repaired – in our opinion is no bargain. You might be able to claim these fees back, but may have to upfront the costs., as nobody likes an empty wallet!

Buy or Renting a Car in New Zealand?

As our moving date got closer we are realizing for our plans needed to be action-ed as soon as we arrive into NZ we need to get some wheels so we can get around quickly!

Luckily we were  be able to borrow a relatives car when we arrived, from there we planned to purchase our own within 2 weeks of being in Auckland.

If you are not fortunate to have relatives or friends in NZ who have a car they can lend you, you may want to rent a car upon arrival. The airport is the best place to start, but you may find cheaper deals elsewhere once you are in Auckland. Click here to find out the companies available within Auckland Airport.

If you hold a driving license in your home country you will be able to drive in NZ when you arrive, most companies require to see your full license this includes the paper part as well as your actual license, they will also want to see another form of I.D (A passport) and they will most certainly require a credit card in case you bash there car up!

We managed to buy a car utilizing an uncle skills who is a ex mechanic. We checked our sites like Trade me (NZ leading online auction site similar to Ebay) before we left to see what we could afford for our budget.

We will also headed to some car fairs when we arrived, Ellerslie Car Fair is  far by the largest in the country and the most popular. We did read whilst doing our research that you should be careful for scams for instance dealers not who they say they are or cars that are on there last legs. But the market has on site prepurchase inspection mechanics so for a fee of $140 you can soon find out if you are buying a piece of crap! This market gave us a lot of leads so it really should be everyone’s first stop, before turning to Trade Me or the classifieds adds in the local news papers.

During our search the more we looked the more we found our budget increasing! It is well known that the kiwi atutude towards there cars are, “run the heap to the ground”, therefore when they come to sell it for $2000 bets are you are not getting a car that has been serviced regularly or well looked after!

We decided we wanted something a bit more reliable seen as we want the wheels to last more than a year! At Ellerslie Car Market we discovered that cars under $2000 were perfect for the backpacker arriving into Auckland and planning on sightseeing or working there way down to Christchurch. This ivedentantly was not us so we upped our budget for $5000-7000 and we found we could get something half decent, fairly new and was a low miler(or Kilometres). However all of these cars seemed to be Japanese imports at the car market and most of the people selling these cars were dealers who had premises on the Great South Road in Auckland.

So although Ellerslie was a very good starting point for us, avoiding dealers (which was our orginal plan!) who ship the cars in from Japan and make a tidy profit just didn’t happen!

Here is our little black Nissan, we called her Matilda!


To find out more read more and to learn about the rules of the road  read our Driving in New Zealand post!