Highlights from the 2021 NZ Crime and Victims Survey

July 19th, 2022

The survey findings from the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (2021), published by the Ministry of Justice in June 2022 offer us some interesting insights to the insurance fraud landscape and trends we’ve been monitoring this year. The survey is in its fourth year, two years of which have been impacted by Covid-19 which did impact crime interviews.

This survey is the only comprehensive research in New Zealand about the victims of criminal activity. Given that only 25% of crime is reported, data such as that within this survey is important to New Zealanders and those that keep us safe.

“The results from the NZCVS help government agencies to create safer neighbourhoods and communities.”

Over four years, the survey has collected information from over 30,000 New Zealanders impacted by crime, which has allowed the data to look at changes in crime and victimisation over this time period. Survey respondents are also asked about their experience with the NZ Police.

The survey states that its purpose is to: “improve the justice system and enhance the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.”

Key Survey Findings as they relate to insurance fraud

How much crime is there in New Zealand?

  • 29% of adults were victimised once or more in the previous 12 months. This level of overall victimisation has remained stable over the four years of the survey.
  • The three most common offence types in the past year were harassment and threatening behaviour; burglary; and fraud and deception. Together, these made up more than half of all offences (51%).

Insurance fraud is often committed by people being fraudulent in insurance applications or insurance claims, or being deceitful in their dealings with their insurers.

Which people have a higher likelihood of victimisation?

  • young adults (aged 15–29)
  • bisexual
  • Māori
  • disabled
  • separated – economic and household factors: not employed and not actively seeking work
  • living in a one-parent-with-child(ren) household or multi-person household
  • renting government accommodation
  • being under high levels of financial pressure – wellbeing factors:
    • having a moderate or high level of psychological distress;
    • having low life satisfaction;
    • having a low feeling of safety.

Insurance fraud is different from other criminal activity where age, sexuality and race may be more of a risk factor. Financial stress and low digital knowledge (online scams) can play more of a role in insurance fraud.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on victimisation

  • The overall victimisation level has remained stable before and during the COVID-19 pandemic across all victimisation measures.
  • Prevalence rates for burglaries, household property damage and overall household offences significantly reduced since the start of the pandemic.

As criminals moved online during the pandemic, there were increasing instances of more digital insurance fraud and criminals needing to be more creative in how they conducted their fraudulent behaviour. For example, intentional damage to cars and houses during lockdowns was harder to pull off.

Read more about cyber crime trends and online safety.

Reporting to the Police

  • Overall, 25% of all victimisation incidents were reported to the Police (no significant difference over previous years).
  • Only 9% of fraud and cybercrime incidents were reported to the Police.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau plays an important role in educating the public of New Zealand to identify and report insurance fraud.

How does crime in Aotearoa compare to global crime?

We recently took a deep dive into global insurance trends and how they compared to New Zealand findings. Some scams have reached our shores, but many haven’t. Importantly, insurance providers and their partners are seeing the benefits of collaboration, intelligence sharing and increasing the awareness of the public about insurance fraud. Cross border collaboration is useful to support insurers combat borderless cyber crime and global criminal networks.

Concerned about insurance fraud?

Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime; it’s a crime that all policyholders pay for.

It’s critical to tell the truth about what’s happened when making a claim. You can report insurance fraud anonymously on our website.