Accuro: Changes to its board and CEO

Geoff Annals has announced his retirement from CEO at Accuro stating “I have reached retirement age and am planning to spend more time with my family and particularly my two new grandchildren, including the latest arrival on the other side of the world,”. Gavin Rutherford will step up as the interim CEO.

Erica Hodgson, who has experience in the mental health sector, was elected as a new member of the board, replacing Pat Curry. Accuro deputy chair Marion Guy was re-elected to the board by the firm’s membership for a second three-year term. Toni Ferrier is stepping down from the Accuro board to serve as the chief executive officer of AIG New Zealand.

Accuro launches free mental health aid

Press release from Accuro:

Accuro launches free mental health solution for more than 15,000 members

12 September 2019, Wellington

Easy and quick access to mental health diagnosis and support has been added to the range of services that Kiwis can call on from Accuro Health Insurance.

About 47% of New Zealanders will experience a mental illness and/or addiction at some time in their lives, with one in five people affected in any one year*.

“For many, issues such as depression or anxiety really affect their lives. Yet a lot of people don’t seek help or have issues with their treatment plan.” says Geoff Annals, CEO of Accuro Health Insurance, a not-for-profit health insurer based in Wellington. “The Government announced significant mental health funding this year, yet access to specialists can still be very limited, with long wait times, and can also be very expensive,”

“So Accuro is launching Mental Health Navigator in partnership with Best Doctors. First launched in Canada in 2016, Mental Health Navigator has since launched in Australia and will soon be available in Europe. Accuro members are amongst the first New Zealanders to have access to this service. Mental Health Navigator is completely free for Accuro members to use alongside their specialist insurance cover, which includes a $500 benefit towards further consultations with NZ registered psychologists and psychiatrists, should follow up be required.

The Mental Health Navigator is now available, for everyone covered by an Accuro Specialist Plan, aged 18+. It’s designed to break down barriers by providing fast, comprehensive and confidential access to a team of mental health professionals. A call to the Mental Health Navigator number will be answered by a specialist mental health nurse and followed up within 10-14 days by a video call with specialist psychologists and psychiatrists. This team can diagnose mental health conditions, develop a treatment plan, or act as a valuable second opinion. The mental health nurse then provides follow up support over the next 6-12 months.

“Fast access to diagnosis and treatment is an important part of people getting better before they get worse, and with typical wait times of two to six months through the public system, we feel access within two weeks can make a dramatic difference to a person’s wellbeing,” says Geoff Annals. “Mental Health Navigator is free, and people can access the service without having to leave their own home, an important detail for members who might be fearful of hospital appointments, or have trouble travelling to them.”

“This is the first time such a quick, easy and professional mental health support service has been available to New Zealanders through health insurance. The Accuro Mental Health Navigator joins Best Doctors, SkinVision, our wellbeing Health Hub and bowel cancer screening kits as active benefits that Accuro offers its members in supporting their health before they might need to call us. We call it Active Insurance,” adds Geoff Annals.


Accuro launches free wellbeing programme

In a partnership with Synergy Health, Accuro has launched NZ's first free wellbeing programme 'Health Hub'. When members sign up to Health Hub they complete a questionnaire which sets a benchmark on different aspects of their lifestyle. The programme then provides users with access to support, customised information and resources to help improve their health. 

“We want to go beyond being a passive insurer by working proactively with our members to help them stay healthy and well,” Accuro Health Insurance Geoff Annals said. Click here to read more. 

New medical insurance premium database

The latest medical insurance premium comparison database is version 7_3. If you are a corporate subscriber you should have received your copy by now. It includes changes:

  • Update nib rates effective 1/7/19
  • Update Southern Cross rates effective 1/7/19
  • Change Accuro rates for ages under 21 to dependent rate to make it consistent with other providers

New Medical Insurance Premium Comparison

The new medical insurance premium comparison is now on Tableau server and in the Premium Comparison Dropbox. It has the following changes:

  • Update to Partners Life rates effective 31/12/18.
  • Update to nib rates effective 1/1/19.
  • Update to Sovereign policy fee effective 1/1/19
  • Update to Accuro rates effective 1/3/19 (but being publicly quoted from 31/1/19)

Geoff Annals on conduct obligations

Geoff Annals, CEO of Accuro, the health insurer, has made the clearest statement yet by any insurer on a shared view of responsibility for client outcomes.Illustrated in this quote, by talking about servicing requirements:

“Our remuneration should reflect that. That’s one of the things insurers can be criticised for. If we remunerate without requiring evidence that the service we expect has been delivered, we should be in the gun, too."

or a goodreturns article, at this link.

Previously companies have tended to act in a way which suggested a very clear demarcation between the insurer and the adviser. That view was a split between the client experience between product and service performance (provided by the insurer) and advice (provided by the adviser).

The view is effectively a recognition of the various legal contracts that underpin the commercial arrangements. Clients have a contract with the insurer, the insurer is not involved in the arrangement that the client may or may not have with the adviser. The adviser's role with the insurer is defined in their agency agreement. This split is widely reflected in the split in law, but it is not as clear-cut as it is sometimes represented. Whether insurers like it or not, advisers are their agent when it comes to the point of application. In other respects the boundaries may be blurred as well, such as when an adviser makes a mistake in good faith, and the insurer handles resolution - cancelling contracts from inception and returning monies paid, for example.

The discussion about conduct is drawing some areas previously dealt with by assumptions and expectations into the daylight, and is perhaps demanding that they should be made explicit. Perhaps there should be explicit service obligations. If a significant portion of the client's experience of a product is based on a service the adviser will provide, then maybe the adviser and the insurer should agree what that service looks like.

The potential upside for advisers here is clarity in their centrality of their role to the operation of the product. On the flip side of that, insurers may wish to operate two channels - one where they are happy with transactional introductions, and another where they want a genuine partnership with advisers.