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nibs says lots of opportunities in health insurance market

The falling numbers of people with health insurance present an opportunity in the market nib chief executive Rob Hennin says.

Tuesday, September 17th 2013, 8:16AM

Recent numbers from the Health Funds Association show the number of people with health insurance fell by 10,000 in the past year, however claims payouts rose.

Hennin says that shows that current products in the market are “no longer relevant.”

Since nib bought the TOWER Health business it has been doing market research and developing new product.

Hennin says it is too early to detail what it is planning however his view is that there is “significant potential” to grow the business in New Zealand.

nib says, in a strategy document, that it is the number two player in the market with market share of 13.5% compared to Southern Cross’s 65.6% share.

Overall nib’s premium income sat at $148.5 million, significantly ahead of third placed Sovereign which sits at $83.7 million.

Hennin says nib are looking to provide products which are more flexible than existing policies and better value for money.

He says the company will work on claims too.

Hennin says nib’s “claims experience is good but not great. It would be good to be great,” he says.

“Our customers deserve it to be much better.”

Hennin says nib is very clear on its strategy in the consumer market but is still thinking about the group space.

“I am still thinking about the group space,” he says.

Hennin says while the company works on its products and strategy it hasn’t been actively engaged with advisers

“We have not detailed our strategy to advisers yet,” he says. “But we will do that before the end of the year.”

While nib plans to start distributing its products directly to consumers, advisers will still play an important part in the distribution process, he says.

One thing that has been revealed is that Fidelity Life will distribute a branded range of nib health insurance products.

Fidelity chief executive Milton Jennings told last week’s Newpark development day that they are working on this arrangement and expect to start next year.


What nib likes about the NZ health insurance market

  • Flexibility in product pricing design
  • Opportunity to increase penetration and grow market share
  • Low competitor investment in brand, product innovation and online capability
  • Opportunity to better manage claims
  • Engaged workforce
  • Lack of competitive direct to consumer offering
  • Merger and acquisition and white labeling opportunities

What nib doesn’t like about New Zealand

  • Lack of government carrots ands ticks
  • Lapse experience
  • High acquisition costs
  • High medical inflation
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