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Sovereign courts farming community

Sovereign is making a play for the rural market, sponsoring this year’s Rural Bachelor of the Year competition at agricultural expo Fieldays.

Wednesday, June 10th 2015, 8:40PM

by Susan Edmunds

Sovereign chief medical officer John Mayhew said some of the company’s biggest life insurance customers were farmers. "If you've got 300 acres in the Waikato, there's a lot of money involved in that."

He said the insurer was encouraging the rural community to be proactive about their health.

“New Zealand’s rural population is facing increasing weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, according to a health screening programme conducted by Dairy NZ and NZ Institute of Rural Health. These are all eminently treatable illnesses that many people can avoid if they take care of their diet, exercise and sleep,” Mayhew said.

He said farmers faced higher instances of stress-related conditions, which could lead to disability claims, especially during periods of financial uncertainty when the dollar was strong and Fonterra’s payout down.

“They suffer the same problems other self-employed businesspeople do, there are a lot more stresses than employed people.”

Mayhew said the sponsorship was a fun way to get people thinking about how small changes to their lifestyle could make a difference.

But one risk adviser who works with the rural community and did not want to be named, said Sovereign would have a hard time competing. 

Partners Life offers a 20% discount to customers with an RD1 account. When clients take the discount, it cuts broker upfront commissions by 75%.

The adviser said many asset-rich, cash-poor farmers had been sold more cover than they needed and were struggling to cover their premiums during lean financial times.

He said the industry should expect to go through a tough period while farmers dealt with the lower payout.

Fonterra has announced its advance payout for the coming season will be $5.25 per kilogram. Last season the advance payout plummeted from $7 to $4.40 at the end of the season.

Tags: health insurance Life insurance Sovereign

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