Insurance schemes

The NZFWDA has polices that cover the association, the committees, affiliated clubs and the members.

Hello all,

Just to confirm where NZFWDA stands on Forest and Rural Fire liability from perspective of insurance cover for 2018 onwards.

We have previously held specific insurance for Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 which covered risk liability of NZFWDA and members if held responsible for causing a rural fire (Section 43 of the 1977 Act).

In July 2017 the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (FENZ Act) repealed the 1977 Act and effectively replaced s 43 with a new offence and penalty regime that includes maximum penalties of:

- Imprisonment for up to two years, and/or

- Fines of up to $300,000 for an individual and $600,000 in any other case

The FENZ Act does not have the same financial liability as was present under the 1977 Act but, in addition to the penalties outlined above, under FENZ, those who suffer loss because of rural fire will need to establish a common law cause of action to recover compensatory damages. Much more will be required for successful recovery than simply proving the cause of a fire; that means those who suffer losses as result of a fire need to establish the person(s) who caused the loss did so recklessly or negligently.

Consequently the need for a separate Forest and Rural Fire sublimit has been overtaken by the FENZ Act. For NZFWDA we have continued to have Forest and Rural Fire sublimit cover of $2M shown on our insurance certificate in case of claims under the now repealed 1977 Act. This sublimit cover will drop off our Certificate probably by next issuance date. What we now have is a significantly increased Public Liability of $10,000,000 to cover compensatory damages claims and we have Statutory Liability of $1,000,000 to cover any fines etc…….additionally we now also have legal defence cover of $500,000.

NZFWDA and our members are not covered (and never have been) for gross negligence; in simple terms this means that if Clubs / members act irresponsibly or foolishly then they will find themselves on their own (there’s no cover for stupidity)… usual rules of engagement for club events will need to prevail ie Club sanctioned event / allocated trip leader / all participants documented and signed in as “members”, normal risk assessment and management plans advised / etc………

A key takeaway for our members is that any action arising from breach of the FENZ Act will most likely be sheeted home firstly to an individual but compensatory damages claims may well be against a collective; the stated objective of the new legislative regime is “to improve fire safety” but it remains to be proven that serious criminal penalties will deter risky fire behaviour. For NZFWDA members we probably have an increased need to be aware of and manage and/or control the actions of individuals who, by their actions, might be perceived to be contributing to increased risk (think things like lighting a bbq or fire in the middle of a forest during a fire ban or throwing a used cigarette out the window of a truck…..)

Kind regards

Neville Dunton

President, NZFWDA Inc


For questions about the NZFWDA insurance cover please contact the NZFWDA National Secretary. All claims must be directed through the NZFWDA. 

Enquire for more

If you'd like more info about NZFWDA membership, contact our secretary using this contact form.