One of Australasia's largest life insurance companies is changing a definition for claims for heart attacks, saying it could result in the number of payouts to survivors increasing by up to 50%.
The company, Asteron, says about 10,000 people in New Zealand have heart attacks each year.
Asteron says with advances in medical technology, more events are being diagnosed by doctors as heart attacks.
It says the life insurance industry has typically required pre-determined ratios and severity levels to meet the heart attack definition before paying a claim.
General manager Don Allerston says a closer alignment of what the medical profession and insurance industry define as a heart attack could result in a 30 - 50% increase in claims, equating to several million dollars more each year.
Premiums are likely to rise 5% to 10% in the long term to accommodate the change.