Recent Product Updates

QPR subscribers have just received the latest database version (138) it is also live on Quotemonster, the changes in this version include:

* Cigna - new policy document 11/11/2020 -  rating changes applied

* Unimed - new policy document 01/08/2020 -  rating changes applied

* AA Health - new policy document nib366402 and nib366401 effective 01/05/2019 -  rating changes applied

* ANZ Life and Living - new policy document A0006 effective 31/01/2020 -  rating changes applied

* Momentum Life: - New policy document for Life 2633-MLPL2-PW 22/10/2020, New policy document for funeral 2667-MLF6-PW 21/09/2020 - Rating changes applied

* Revised view on: Medical - Treatment (overseas)


Industry associations merge

The Health Funds Association of NZ will merge with the Financial Services Council from 1 December. Congratulations to the FSC and HFANZ on concluding the merger. In an increasingly complex environment, driven by regulatory change, technology, and consumer choice, it makes sense to have a single, stronger, industry advocate capable to looking across the wide range of issues in common facing the sector. 

From the media release: 

Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) and the Financial Services Council (FSC)
today announced a merger into one single organisation under the Financial Services Council
banner from 1 December 2020, creating a membership association of close to 90
organisations.

In a major milestone for the sector, the merger brings together Health Insurance with the
Life Insurance, KiwiSaver, and Investment industries and will place a focus on achieving
good customer outcomes, ensuring sustainability of the sector, and lifting standards and
professionalism from a single, stronger voice.

Rob Flannagan, Chair of the Financial Services Council said, “The merger is a great
opportunity to bring the health and life insurance industry together under one roof and
focus the efforts of our joint members on the important issues of the day, and most
importantly of all, driving better consumer outcomes.”

Len Elikhis, Chair of HFANZ, said “The Health Funds Association of NZ members represent
80% of the health insurance sector and has a rich heritage of over 30 years.

“The private health insurance sector supports 1.4m New Zealanders to meet their health
care costs. We believe that a well-balanced and integrated health system is key to achieving
great patient outcomes.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our members for their significant contribution
and we look forward to playing an active part within the Financial Services Council,”
concluded Elikhis.

Richard Klipin, CEO of the Financial Services Council said, “Coming together to build a
stronger association is exciting and important for protecting the health of Kiwis.

“With a bigger, stronger and larger organisation of around 90 members, this merger will
focus our work in the sector and create a stronger voice that will help shape the future
financial wellbeing of Kiwis,” concluded Klipin.


Southern Cross awarded gold for COVID-19 response, and more daily news

Southern Cross has been awarded gold in Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards in the health and travel insurance categories for the support offered to members during the pandemic.  This is the fourth consecutive that Southern Cross has be awarded gold in the Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards health insurance category and second consecutive year that it has been awarded gold in the travel insurance category. Southern Cross has credited it’s focus on supporting members during the pandemic as the main reason for being awarded gold.

“Southern Cross has been recognised for the way it has supported customers during an extraordinary year by winning gold in both the health and travel insurance categories in the Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards.

The awards are facilitated every year to determine which New Zealand organisations have delivered the most outstanding customer service. Consumers rate organisations on personalisation, understanding, simplicity and satisfaction.

This is the fourth consecutive gold for Southern Cross Health Insurance (SCHI) and the second in a row for Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI). Both organisations come under the Southern Cross brand, and are businesses united by a not-for-profit ethos helping Kiwis look after their health and wellbeing.

Southern Cross maintained this award-winning customer service throughout the pandemic by focusing its efforts on supporting customers in ways that would have the most impact.”

Louise Waterson, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, noted that challenges faced in 2020 reflect the importance of focusing on customer service. Waterson said Southern Cross achieved excellent customer service.

“Louise Waterson, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, said the challenges of this year have highlighted the importance of delivering excellent service to customers.

“For another year, Southern Cross has achieved such excellence, and continues to raise the benchmark of what outcomes customers of health and travel insurance can expect. Only the highest standards will do when fulfilling the health and travel needs and concerns of their customers and their families. New Zealanders appreciate the skill, professionalism and compassion shown by Southern Cross – all of which makes for a winning business strategy. Congratulations,” she said.”

In other news

FMA: Guide for providers of Financial Advice Services – an introduction to Full Licence requirements

From NZ Herald: Son of killer Kiwi dad Rowan Baxter who murdered wife Hannah, 3 kids is suing her parents - as a substantial life insurance payment is disputed due to intestacy

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life is urging advisers to complete the licensing questionnaire before the end of November to ensure new business is accepted and commission is paid


nib and Tend digital healthcare partnership, and more daily news

nib has announced it’s partnership with Tend to allow eligible nib members unlimited access to Tend’s GPs through an app. Rob Hennin, nib New Zealand CEO, has said that the partnership will allow members to become more proactive about their health and wellbeing. Hennin said that nib believe that enabling members to easily access GPs. Through this  partnership, nib will help members in taking preventative actions. Hennin has noted that nib advocates for digital healthcare to ensure people overcome barriers and seek medical help.

“Health insurer, nib New Zealand and digital-first healthcare provider, Tend today announced details of a transformational new partnership that will see eligible nib members offered unlimited access to Tend’s GPs through a secure app on their smartphone.

nib New Zealand CEO, Rob Hennin, says the partnership, which is a New Zealand health insurance first, enables nib members to be more proactive about their health and wellbeing by providing an affordable and convenient way to see a GP.

“At nib, we share Tend’s vision of making New Zealanders the healthiest people in the world. To do this, we need to be making it as easy as possible for Kiwis to talk with a doctor wherever they are and whenever they need to,” says Mr Hennin.”

“We also need to be encouraging more New Zealanders to be taking a preventative and proactive approach to their healthcare, and this means thinking differently about how we deliver health services.

“That is why we are huge advocates of digital healthcare because it helps address many of the barriers preventing people from seeking medical advice. Our new partnership with Tend means our members no longer need to take time off work, travel across town and sit in a waiting room when they are sick. Instead, seeing a doctor will be easy.”

Cecilia Robinson, Tend co-CEO has said that Tend is excited about the partnership. The Tend app will allow nib members to have common conditions managed, talk with doctors or nurses and receive e-prescriptions, test results, and laboratory forms on their cell phones. If an in-person consultation is needed, members can make appointments to see doctors in person.

"Tend co-CEO Cecilia Robinson says Tend is excited to be teaming up with a leading health insurer to provide nib members access to a gold standard digital-first primary health service.

“Tend is a ground-breaking healthcare service that delivers GP services through a purpose-built app on your smartphone and is as simple to use as Netflix or Instagram,” says Robinson.

“Like nib, we want to empower Kiwis to take greater control of their healthcare by allowing them to see to a doctor when they want, how they want and where they want, including from the comfort of their home.

“Through the app, eligible nib members will be able to talk with a doctor or nurse as easily as if they are sitting in the room with them. They’ll also be able to receive e-prescriptions, test results or laboratory forms directly to their smartphone.

“Many common medical conditions can be managed through virtual consultations, including minor ailments, various chronic conditions, follow-up consultations and the initiation of laboratory investigations and repeat prescriptions.

“If an in-person consultation is required or desired, patients can simply make an appointment to visit Tend’s state-of-the art clinic for a physical examination.”” 

In other news

AIA: AIA pimps up its Quick Quote calculator

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life dials up new tech

Aon: Aon reveals new NZ$7.2 billion share repurchase programme

FANZ: How to get the most out of Xero webinar


nib Group deploy new digital claims process, and more daily news

nib has announced the implementation of Melvin, a machine learning engine, that will process claims that are submitted via the app. The adoption of this engine is intended to reduce manual data entry. Brendan Mills, nib Group CEO, has said that after nib enabled photo submission and claims via the app, user experience improved while information processing time increased. 

“Nib has implemented a new machine learning engine to process claims submitted via its app in less time by reducing the amount of manual data entry required behind the scenes. 

 

Five years ago the health insurer introduced a new feature that let members take a photo of their receipt and submit a claim via the app. 

While that improved the customer experience, it became a challenge to process the information at the backend as the volumes of photos increased, said nib's CIO Brendan Mills.

 

“We created a great customer experience but we then also caused ourselves some pain in processing photos because we're then taking a whole heap of flat images and having to rekey all the data [such as] provider number, customer number…it was quite an intensive process,” Mills told iTnews.

nib has said been trialing systems for the past six months. The engine uses AWS Textract to pick up all relevant information from submitted photos. The engine is set to save 20 seconds in handling time per claim, with half not needing further human intervention. nib is looking at expanding the service to process more claims, improve the service, and improve accuracy. 

“For the past six months, the health insurer has been using machine learning algorithms to strip information from the photos and pass it through to the core claims processing system. 

 

The engine, dubbed Melvin, was developed with data science consultancy Eliiza and uses AWS Textract to read the relevant information from the photos. 

 

Mills said the process saves an average of 20 seconds handling time per claim, and about half of the claims require no further human intervention to rekey or adjust any of the fields from the image. 

 

The insurer is now considering how to expand the service to process more claims, improve accuracy levels and determine if claims can be paid out without any human intervention. 

 

Mills said work is underway to determine the types of claims that have a very “high confidence” level to approve automatically, possibly with a post-processing quality assurance mechanism in place.” Click here to read more

In other news:

nib: adult or child signing up to Easy Health, Ulitimate Health Max, or Ulitimate Healththrough nibAPPLY will give them two month free cover. Offer ends 31 January 2021

FMA: FMA seeks consultation on proposed guidance for advertising

SHARE: SHARE confirms Newpark acquisition


nib publish finding from parenting survey, and more daily news

nib has published the findings from its State of the Nation Parenting Survey. The survey looked into the concerns of parents in 2020. Behavioural issues was identified as the top health related concern. This concern was raised by 34% of all participants. While parents with young children reported that their biggest concern was children experiencing extensive episodes of irritability, anger and short-temperedness. Nathan Wallis, nib parenting expert, commented saying that the shift during lockdown added to an already emotional stage for toddlers. When discussing lockdown experiences, participants noted that prolonged negative behaviour were common occurrences.

“Leading health insurer, nib New Zealand, has released the findings from its second annual nib State of the Nation Parenting Survey, shedding light on the concerns that have been top of mind for Kiwi parents during a year unlike any other.

 

Behavioural issues are the number one health concern Kiwi parents have for their children, cited by more than a third (34%) of respondents, up 13% from 2019. Last year’s biggest health-related concern, sleep, still features prominently, as do stress levels and diet and exercise.

 

Taking a closer look at families’ lockdown experience, the number of respondents reporting sustained episodes of negative behaviour from their children (lasting two weeks or longer) grew significantly during the nationwide lockdown period. Concerningly, this increase has been largely sustained since lockdown ended.

 

Parents of younger children reported prolonged episodes of irritability, anger and short-temperedness as their biggest concern, while among parents of high schoolers, the sharpest increase came in levels of concern around changes to children’s motivation.

 

nib parenting expert, Nathan Wallis says, “Lockdown saw most families dealing with added stress as they adapted to new and novel experiences. Toddlers may in many ways have felt this most acutely as they are already in a very emotional stage of development - it’s called “Terrible Twos” for a reason. Toddlers are also just beginning to learn how to manage their emotions, so it’s mum and dad who have to do most of it for them. This was understandably compounded by lockdown, so many parents of toddlers had it quite hard.””

The study also found that parents struggled. Participants reported that their motivation, energy levels, and performance at work decreased during lockdown while feeling overwhelmed increased. Parents reported that their biggest source of stress was financial uncertainty which impacted 39% of participants. The study found that only 8% of participants didn’t feel any stress.  When discussing the future, 70% of participants reported that they felt positive and 67% believed that lockdown helped to solidify their family unit.

“The findings also clearly demonstrate the toll 2020 has taken on parents themselves. Lockdown saw sharp increases in the number of respondents suffering from decreased motivation, decreased energy levels, a sense of feeling overwhelmed, and declining performance at work. Any subsequent reduction since lockdown ended has been limited to just one or two percentage points.

 

The biggest source of stress reported by parents this year was financial uncertainty, impacting 39% of respondents – followed closely by the impact of COVID-19 on the world, general job-related stress and the economy. Fewer than one in 10 respondents (8%) reported not feeling any particular level of stress over this period.

 

For the 42% of respondents who saw their financial situation worsen due to COVID-19, the impact of this was reflected in general stress levels, and also felt in terms of quality of sleep and relationships.

 

Despite an undeniably tough year, it’s not all bad news. When asked about the outlook for their family, 70% of respondents reported feeling positive about the future and 67% believe lockdown strengthened their family unit, with many reporting a greater sense of happiness, and better communication as a result.”

 

Here is a list of the key findings: 

Parents’ biggest health-related concerns for their children:

·       Behavioural issues – 34% (up 13% from last year) 

·       Diet and exercise – 33% 

·       Sleep (lack of, too much, pattern changes) – 31% 

·       Stress levels – 31%

Biggest behavioural concerns, with episodes lasting two weeks or longer (as experienced pre-, during and post-lockdown): 

· Pre-school children – prolonged episodes of irritability, anger and short-temperedness. 

§  12% pre-lockdown, 28% during lockdown, 25% post-lockdown

· Primary and intermediate children – prolonged episodes of irritability, anger and short-temperedness. 

§  17% pre-lockdown, 32% during and 28% post-lockdown

·       High school children – prolonged episodes of decreased motivation. 

§  12% pre-lockdown, 37% during lockdown, 23% post-lockdown

 

Biggest personal impacts of lockdown – experienced by parents themselves: 

·       Decreased motivation – 13% pre lockdown, 29% during lockdown, 28% post-lockdown

·       Decreased energy – 14% pre-lockdown, 29% during lockdown, 30% post-lockdown

·       Feeling overwhelmed – 19% pre-lockdown, 33% during lockdown, 31% post-lockdown 

·       Declining performance at work – 5% pre-lockdown, 14% during lockdown, 13% post-lockdown

 

Parents’ biggest sources of personal stress: 

·       Financial uncertainty - 39% of respondents

·       The impact of COVID-19 on the world - 36%

·       General job-related stress - 34%

·       The economy - 34%

 

Impact of lockdown on family unit: 

·       Greatly strengthened family unit – 24%

·       Somewhat strengthened family unit – 43% 

·       Made no difference to family dynamics / relations – 28%

·       Somewhat weakened family unit – 4%

·       Greatly weakened family unit – 1%

 

Parents’ outlook for the future of their families: 

·       Very positive – 22%

·       Positive – 48% 

·       Neutral – 18%

·       Concerned – 2%

·       Extremely concerned – 2%

·       Don’t know / unsure – 8%

 

In other news: 

AIA: AIA Taking Small Steps campaign won Best Brand Campaign at Interactive Advertising Bureau awards

Southern Cross: Little heart monitor can be sent to patients in the mail, speeding up results

Southern Cross: New findings reveal we put higher pressure on ourselves than others

 


Southern Cross launches Cancer Cover Plus, and more daily news

Southern Cross has announced the launch of Cancer Cover Plus. The new cover is intended to give members broader chemotherapy options. Cancer Cover Plus will give members the option to upgrade to Chemotherapy 100, which has a benefit limit of $100,000 or Chemotherapy 300 which has a benefit limit of $300,000. Additionally, members will have the choice to access non-Pharmac cancer drugs.

“Southern Cross Health Insurance (SCHI) is launching competitive cancer care cover to give members more choice when it comes to chemotherapy, including increased access to cancer drugs not subsidised by Pharmac.

SCHI’s new Cancer Cover Plus has two optional upgrades - Chemotherapy 100 (benefit limit of $100,000) and Chemotherapy 300 (benefit limit of $300,000) – to help members during their cancer treatment journey. This covers the cost of Pharmac and non-Pharmac, Medsafe indicated chemotherapy drugs and their administration for the treatment of cancer.”

Nick Astwick has said that the new cover has been designed with the needs of members in mind. Cancer Cover Plus has been developed to complement the unlimited surgical and radiotherapy benefits. Astwick notes that the cover was created so more New Zealanders have faster and more access to affordable cancer treatment options.

“We understand that a cancer diagnosis, or the fear of one, can be scary for people so we wanted to give members peace of mind by providing them with more cancer cover options.

 

“We have developed them to complement the unlimited surgical and radiotherapy benefits we offer in most of our plans, and this will help to provide a comprehensive package to the vast majority of our members who have these products and also tell us their main concern is cancer care,” he said.

 

The Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report 2020 revealed that 79 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about not having access to cancer treatment services and 59 per cent are worried about experiencing or developing an illness or disease.

 

“Not all cancer drugs are funded by Pharmac which makes them unaffordable for many people. We created this new cancer cover so Kiwis could have faster access and more treatment options to receive potentially lifesaving chemotherapy drugs if they need to,” said Astwick.” 

In other news:

At goodreturns: Adviser consultancy firms say full licensing provisions bring mandate for change

From Partners Life: Do your self-employed clients have the right income cover? 


UniMed announces new CEO, and more daily news

UniMed has announced that a new CEO will be appointed in January 2021. Louise Zacest is set to take over from Dermot Martin, who is retiring after 30 years at UniMed. Zacest has held senior roles in different industries and is the current General Manager, Strategy and Partnerships at Healthcare New Zealand. 

“He will be succeeded by Louise Zacest.

 

Zacest joins UniMed from Healthcare New Zealand, the country’s largest home and community service provider, where she has held senior executive positions, including acting Chief Executive.

 

She is currently General Manager, Strategy and Partnerships. Her previous health and insurance experience includes senior roles with Southern Cross, Tower Financial Service Group and Counties Manukau District Health Board.” Click here to read more

 

In other news:

nib: nib’s 2020 virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 1pm (AEDT) on 5 November 2020 - note that we have five companies that have updated financial results in our tracking set for the life and health insurance sector, which will all be updated in the company information section of the Quarterly Life and Health Sector review due on 20 December

'Advisers take note' RIAA welcome sustainable finance roadmap

Long Covid a new problem for insurers to grapple with contrast this with our view: we think it is not too much of a problem provided we keep COVID-19 at bay.


Medical insurance premium rates usually go up - but a few have gone down

In the most recent update to our medical premium comparison database (v83) we have the details of medical insurance premium rate changes by AIA and Southern Cross, both implemented on 1 November. Subscribers to the medical insurance premium comparison database will see that while AIA's increase is fairly uniform, the Southern Cross changes are more varied. One group of coverage has got cheaper, with a very small decrease. That was the rating for basic policies with no additional features (the most common example being specialists and tests). Even within this group for a few ages the premium rose, a few rates were very minor adjustments, but for a good slice of the most basic cover there was a small reduction in price. The reasons for the price change in this particular group will be explored in more detail in our Quarterly Life and Health Sector review, which we plan to have available to subscribers in the week before Christmas.  


Asteron Life introduces mental health support, and more daily news

Asteron Life announced that the Best Doctors service will provide free access to different mental health experts to customers with disability insurance. The service will allow customers to access general advice as well as services from psychologists and psychiatrists. 

“Asteron Life today announced that customers with disability insurance will now have access to the Best Doctors service at no additional cost. The Best Doctors package provides direct access to a multidisciplinary team of mental health experts, including psychologists and psychiatrists, as well as general advice on mental health conditions and guidance on how to navigate the mental health system.”

Graham Hill, executive manager Life Distribution said that Best Doctors works to ensure customers are connected and make medical decisions with confidence. Graham continued by saying that having access to expert medical advice in the current environment is relevant while Mike Morris, the country manager of Best Doctors said that the importance of virtual care has been highlighted this year.

“Best Doctors connects our customers with leading medical specialists, and enables them to make medical decisions with confidence,” says Graham Hill, executive manager Life Distribution at Asteron Life. “Like insurance, the service is really about being there for people when it matters.”

 

Hill says that in the current Covid-19 environment, mental health support and the ability to get expert medical advice from your own home is particularly relevant.

 

Mike Morris, the country manager of Best Doctors has said “This year has shown us that virtual care is incredibly important and effective. There has never been a better time to offer people access to virtual care and we’re delighted to be bringing new services to Asteron Life customers.”” 

Asteron Life is offering advisers virtual training sessions. Times available are:

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Wednesday 9

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Thursday 10

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 14

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 21

·       09:30am – 10:30am, September, Monday 28

 

Click here to register

Click here to read more

 

In other news

RBNZ: Has the Reserve Bank responded differently to upturns and downturns in inflation and economic activity?

FMA: COVID-19 response insights

Financial Advice webinar: Panel Discussion: Obtaining or Updating your Level 5 Qualification in Financial Services