Wynn Williams has for some time been an industry leader in the specialised field of insurance law. 

We have longstanding relationships with New Zealand and many internationally-based insurers and also accept instructions from businesses, bodies corporate and homeowners looking to resolve an insurance related issue, often on referral from insurance brokers, other lawyers or accountants.  

The Insurance Team is recommended and recognised by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020 and Chambers Asia-Pacific 2020.  Described as "a strong team that has dealt with some very large earthquake claims and is great to work with" as well as having "a smart, adaptable and practical approach.”  In a previous directory, one client described the team as having a "fantastic approach to resolving issues".

Necessarily, much of our focus in the past few years has been the Canterbury earthquakes and we have been intensely involved in the insurance and building responses.

Our hallmark is product knowledge.  We have been involved in a number of policy revision and redrafting programmes and commonly advise on coverage questions for all forms of property and liability lines, and reinsurance treaties.

Our aim is to provide accurate and practical advice, with cost effective resolutions for claim disputes and third party actions.  We understand the importance of accessibility, clarity and promptness for insurer and policyholder alike.

Our services cover professional indemnity; product and public liability; directors’ and officers’ liability; business interruption; fire and general; disability and income protection.

Wynn Williams has expertise in disputes involving insurers as parties and is regularly instructed to act in:
  • Disputes where the insurer has accepted liability and is indemnifying the insured.
  • Disputes where the insurer's liability is disputed over questions of policy interpretation, scope of coverage and application of exclusions or endorsements arise.
Recent cases include:
  • Acting for financial advisors sued for negligent advice where an insurer has declined cover.
  • Successfully acting against professional advisors accused of negligence and professional liability.

Reported Decisions

  • Kraal v Earthquake Commission [2014] 3 NZLR 42
  • Fussell v Broadbase Christchurch Ltd [2011] 16 ANZ Ins cas 61-913
  • Wyatt v Real Estate Agents Authority [2012] 25 NZTC 20-152
  • Garnett v Tower Insurance Ltd [2011] 17 ANZ Ins Cas 61-918
  • Hamid v England (2011) 12 NZCPR 844, [2011] 13 TCLR 376
  • Fidelity Life Assurance Co Ltd v Pilkington [2010] 16 ANZ Ins Cas 90-144
  • Department of Labour v P F Olsen & Co Ltd [2003] DCR 196
  • Fussell v Broadbase Christchuch Ltd (2011) 16 ANZ Ins Cas 61-913

Recent Projects

  • Insurance and liability opinions on instructions from other lawyers, brokers and accountants.
  • Insurer appointed counsel for major building company involved in an intensive building dispute over structural design deficiencies, pursuing alternative dispute resolution.
  • Providing strategic claims specific advice to a domestic lines insurer on policy interpretation and application issues, claims measurement and settlement decisions.
  • Whilst at another firm: Defended a claim against a nationwide firm of auditors sued by a client who had been a victim of employee theft. The claim settled following mediation.
  • Whilst at another firm: Defended a claim against a firm of accountants sued by a financial advisor who also advised the accountant's client.
  • Whilst at another firm: Represented solicitors in disciplinary proceedings in respect of complaints made to the Legal Complaints Service by an estate beneficiary.
  • While working in the UK: Dealt with the defence of a £14 million composite claim made against a third party advisor in the insurance industry. The claim was settled following successful interlocutory arguments.
  • Whilst at another firm: Defended a claim against a firm of solicitors arising out of property transfers and which included allegations of negligence, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. A drop hands settlement was agreed following mediation.
  • Whilst at another firm: Defended a claim against a firm of solicitors which arose out of a failed property development scheme. A drop hands settlement was agreed following mediation.
  • Instruction by health & life insurer in the largest life insurance claim paid in NZ history (to that point), where a comprehensive investigation with respect to suspected fraud involved liaison and coordination with investigators in numerous disciplines (loss adjusters, investigators, forensic accountants, financial advisers and business analysts), and advising primary and re-insurers
  • Successful resolution on behalf of health & life insurer of very contentious proceedings commenced by high profile media identity, who repeatedly threatened insurer with adverse media coverage – which had the risk of causing significant reputational damage;
  • Acting for health & life insurer in $6m suspected fraud where proceedings had been commenced, which involved multiple jurisdictions and exhaustive investigation
  • Acting for real estate firms on numerous leaky building claims involving multiplexes
  • Successfully mitigating sentence to minimum level imposed on international engineering firm in a HSE prosecution concerning failure to maintain lift services at major Auckland transport terminus
  • Acting for client on major fraud scheme ('mortgage ramping') including identifying how the frauds occurred, and liaison with NZ Police/Crown prosecutors
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