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nib NZ expects its insurance to be resilient in the face of rising cost of living

nib New Zealand is expecting that the types of health and related life insurance won't be something households hard-pressed by the rising cost of living will want to cut from their budgets.

Wednesday, August 23rd 2023, 9:45AM

by Jenny Ruth

“When you think about what's happening now and in the next couple of years, particularly with interest rates going up,” people with mortgages are going to find their budgets squeezed,” says chief executive Rob Hennin.

“But we've seen the demand for health insurance has remained strong. If you think about that being discretionary, it's still being prioritised by households. You are getting a good return on your premiums,” Hennin says.

“Unlike life insurance, people are using health insurance on a regular basis.”

While nib is now also in the life insurance business, what Hennin likes to call live and living insurance, some of those policies also cover things such as trauma and income protection.

nib NZ completed the purchase of Kiwi Insurance from Kiwibank's owner, effectively the government, for $45 million in May 2022.

“While we don't all revel in the challenges of the public system,” the number of people still waiting to see a specialist after four months has blown out to 33% from 19% before the covid pandemic, Hennin says.

So, the incentive to have health and related insurance is growing, he says.

Earlier this week, the NZ company lifted its contribution to its Australian parent's underlying annual operating profit by 36.8%.

The A$34.2 million underlying result from the NZ operations for the year ended June was boosted by the $4.7 million write-back of deferred acquisition costs , without which the result would've been up 7.7%.

The parent company reported a 42.8% rise in annual net profit to A$191.1 million.

The NZ underwriting result was up 42% to NZ$36.1 million for the latest year from $25.4 million the previous year and included a $2.4 million contribution from the life and living business compared with just a two-month contribution the previous year of NZ$0.1 million.

Claims were up 18.5% in NZ dollars and up 13.9% to A$199.8 million.

Net premium revenue was up 15.9% to NZ$360.7 million and policyholder numbers were up 3.2% to 161,303 – they have grown from 110,121 in June 2019.

“It's been a good year again for the NZ business where we have increased the number of policy holders and maintained the value we offer nib members,” Henin says.

“Businesses that were affected by covid-19, which closed international borders and slowed access to healthcare across the country, are recovering. We've added a new business, OrbitProtect and our live and living business is performing well,” he says.

nib bought OrbitProtect in November last year for an undisclosed sum and it contributed NZ$1.1 million to pre-tax profit. It provides insurance for international students, workers, and other inbound travellers.

Tags: nib

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