Christchurch's earthquakes may have jolted New Zealanders into thinking about the insurance policies they hold, Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan says.

Kiwis have one of the world's lowest rates of life insurance.

A study found that 85 per cent have some form of insurance but only 37 per cent have life or risk protection.

"People spend more time thinking about where to get their hair done than thinking about life insurance," Crossan said.


The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income was working on getting New Zealanders to think about what was important to them. "They might spend more on their car or home contents insurance than they do on their life insurance when their life and income is probably more important."

The quake could help change that.

David Drillien, Sovereign insurance general manager for marketing, said research showed New Zealanders were under-insured.

"We are inclined to do things ourselves, tend not to be the best planners, and tend to deal with things as they occur. There's a bit of a perception that life insurance is a bit hard and there's a lack of education about what insurance is and the need for it."

Sovereign is now offering $10,000 life insurance policies free to parents for the first year of their babies' lives in an effort to raise awareness.

The commission was offering tips on