nib reveal benefits of COVID-19 support package

It has been a year since nib begun offering members its COVID-19 support package. nib has revealed that over 2,000 members were relieved from paying over $870,000 as a result of premium waivers and suspensions. Another 2,500 members were granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any delayed medical treatments. nib CEO Rob Hennin has said that nib is pleased that the support package ensured that members maintained their medical cover regardless of their financial circumstance. Hennin has noted that although the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over it is rewarding seeing confidence in the healthcare sector returning.

Community initiatives that nib is backing have also had positive impacts. A $150,000 grant helped Lifeline Aotearoa to meet increased demand. Lifeline Aotearoa reported receiving 20% more crisis calls because of the impacts of the pandemic. With the support of nib, Clearhead offered over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions and developed a platform in Te Reo to bridge barriers.

“It’s been 12 months since leading health insurer, nib New Zealand (nib), launched its COVID-19 support package to assist its members and the wider community impacted by the pandemic. Released last April, the package provided access to a range of initiatives to support member’s individual health and financial needs during the crisis.

More than $870,000 was provided in financial assistance in the form of premium waivers and suspensions, helping over 2,000 nib members maintain their health cover. Around 2,500 members were also automatically granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any medical treatment delays they may have experienced.

nib Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin, said swiftly introducing immediate support and expanding assistance as the pandemic unfolded and needs changed has enabled members to continue to put their health first.

“It’s been a particularly hard year for many, and the pandemic has highlighted how important our health really is to us all. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to support our members to maintain their health during this challenging period,” Mr Hennin said.

Expanded coverage for COVID-19 related treatment was provided to all members at no additional cost, while telehealth services helped members access GP or specialist services from home.

“As a health partner for our members, establishing safe and meaningful pathways for their ongoing health was a top priority. Funding telehealth services was one way we did this, and it’s become a permanent benefit for eligible members,” Mr Hennin said.

Beyond the member base, nib together with nib foundation, provided $1 million in funding to community initiatives across both New Zealand and Australia to assist with the increasing demand for mental health support during the pandemic.

“Last year alone, Lifeline Aotearoa received a 20% spike in crisis calls as a direct result of the pandemic’s impact on our mental health. Our $150,000 grant assisted them to provide more than 2,300 additional hours of counselling as well as further training to help meet the surge in demand for services,” Mr Hennin said.

“In addition, our support of Clearhead has helped facilitate over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions for Kiwis and medical providers at no additional cost. It also enabled the development of a Te Reo version of the platform helping to reduce the cultural and language barriers often faced by Māori communities when seeking mental health support,” he added.

Mr Hennin said that while the fight against COVID-19 wasn’t yet over, it was rewarding to see that nib’s efforts to support its members and the community were having a positive impact and that confidence in the healthcare sector was returning.

“With many people unable to get the treatment they needed or being fearful of going to the hospital during the height of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the volumes of claims returning to preCOVID levels. It gives us peace of mind, knowing our members are getting the necessary healthcare treatment to continue looking after their health and wellbeing,” he. said.”

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nib on Pharmac review, and more daily news

Dr. Graeme Jarvis has written a piece on Stuff about the Government’s plan to conduct a review into Pharmac. In the piece, Dr. Jarvis notes that the review should be seen as being for the good of the country, as long as the review is intended to update an outdated system, improve Pharmac’s performance, and expand access to publicly funded medicines. Transparency, timeliness and equity have been described as being the focus of the review. 

“That this Government has decided to have a review into Pharmac should be seen as positive by the country, and good public sector governance. This assumes, of course, that the review truly aims to look at ways to modernise a 27-year-old system and both to improve the way New Zealand accesses publicly funded modern medicines and to enhance the agency’s performance.

Performance for any health service should not be about PR, such as modelled graphs reporting assumed, rather than actual, savings. It should be about health outcomes achieved. Hopefully, the review can lead to the generation of meaningful health outcome measurements for patients, not myth-based savings indicators.

Transparency, timeliness and equity seem to be key areas of focus in the review. Safety of medicines is not – that is rightly a statutory role for Medsafe, not Pharmac. However, given recent deaths following an enforced brand switch of an epilepsy drug, now subject to a coronial investigation, the safety of Pharmac’s cost-driven decision-making processes should be within scope.

Timeliness of decision-making is an issue. New Zealand takes 2.5 times as long as the OECD average of nine months to publicly fund modern medicines, all of which have undergone rigorous review internationally, including assessment of clinical need and effectiveness. Why the delay? Hopefully the review will answer this question.

Despite New Zealand’s comparable wealth on a GDP per capita basis, it funds between two and 10 times fewer modern medicines than our OECD peers. Why the disparity? Is it technical or fiscal rationing? Only the former is considered in-scope for the review.” Click here to read more

nib has noted that New Zealanders can take Pharmac out of the equation by signing up to Ultimate Health with Easy Overlay promotion. The campaign begun April 1 and will continue until 30 June 2021. The promotion is only being offered on nibAPPLY.

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AIA announce AIA Vitality enhancements, and more daily news

AIA has announced AIA Vitality enhancements. Len Elikhis, AIA NZ Chief Product and Vitality Officer, has said that changes have been made to ensure AIA continues motivating and rewarding members. The enhancements means that members have the option of getting a 25% discount on Samsung fitness devices as well as up to 50% off Event Cinemas tickets. Another added feature that members can utilise for free is the Allen Carr Easyway Quit Alcohol programme. More enhancements are expected in June 2021.

“Following the news late last year that AIA Vitality members could earn an Apple Watch for reaching weekly physical activity targets, the life, health, and wellbeing insurer today announced further AIA Vitality partnerships.

New partner brands, such as Samsung and Event Cinemas, along with the addition of the Allen Carr Easyway Quit Alcohol programme, will see AIA Vitality continue to support and reward members to improve their health.

“We’re regularly evolving our program to motivate and reward our members to live healthier, longer, better lives,” says Len Elikhis, AIA NZ Chief Product and Vitality Officer. “Utilising a global, science-backed program, AIA Vitality has given us the unique ability to engage with our customers on an ongoing basis, provide greater value and support healthier outcomes”.

From today, AIA Vitality members can enjoy a 25% discount on Samsung fitness devices, alongside existing program partners Garmin (25% discount) and Fitbit (30% discount). Len says tracking fitness can be a great motivator. “Whatever you do to keep active, activity tracking can help you stay committed and working towards your personal physical activity goals.”

Event Cinemas has joined Hoyts as an AIA Vitality rewards partner offering members up to 50% discount on movie tickets. “Having both Hoyts and Events Cinemas on the program gives our members more choice across the country.”

Another enhancement Len is pleased to share is the new free Allen Carr Easyway Quit Alcohol programme. “Following the success of the Allen Carr Quit Smoking programme, we are pleased to now support members looking to reduce their alcohol consumption.”

Since launching in August 2019, AIA Vitality has continued to grow. “Feedback from the adviser community and our members continues to be very positive,” says Len. “They have told us that they love the way AIA Vitality motivates and rewards behaviour change. We continue to receive feedback from members about tangible improvements in their health outcomes, which energises us to continue evolving the program.

“AIA Vitality is all about helping Kiwis learn more about their health, offering ways to improve it, and providing motivation and rewards along the way.

More exciting AIA Vitality partnerships and program enhancements are set to be announced in June 2021, continuing AIA NZ’s long-term commitment to helping New Zealanders get more out of life.”

AIA

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Quotemonster and Advicemonster updates - live now

We have updated the quotemonster site, on Thursday, and made the following items live, for more detail see below:

  1. New SOA report content setting options allow you to create more customisations for your SOAs if you are an Advicemonster subscriber. To access these click settings, then SOA Setting, then Report Content Setting
  1. New SOA template for Need analysis recommendation note pad - bring through all your calculations from the recommendation notepad in Advicemonster to quote and to the SOA.
  1. New nib rates applied to the site
  1. FSP input validation for user setting and register form - so it is important that your FSP number matches your name and the entry on the FSPR. A reminder that sharing your login is a breach of our terms and conditions and unusual account activity (like switching user names) will be picked up and we will be contacting account-holders that actively share their logins. 
  1. Improved the health product breakdown table in the research report.
  1. Applied Fidelity level standalone trauma maximum level term rule
  1. Changed Partners Life IP and MP max-age to 57 - as we do not quote reduced commission versions of income protection
  1. Update Web version number to v 3.8.7

Congratulations to Albert, Doreen, and the whole team on a big package of updates. Our special thanks to the advisers sending us issues and suggestions for improvement of the Advicemonster process and the SOAs. 


nib on why customers should consider comprehensive health insurance, and more daily news

nib has prepared a list on why customers should consider comprehensive health insurance. nib lists five reasons why members are better off with comprehensive health insurance. These reasons are:

“Greater choice

Your clients choose who they receive treatment from, and alongside their GP or specialist, they decide where and when. Having access to more options helps reduce uncertainty and enables them to make plans to minimise related disruptions caused in their lives.

Less waiting, less worry

It is not uncommon to spend months waiting in the public health system before receiving treatment. While your client is waiting, their health may deteriorate further, and secondary issues could develop. Access to private healthcare, afforded through health insurance, can significantly reduce waiting times, creating greater peace of mind.

Less time off work, less lost income

Poor health could require needing to take time off work to recover. This could result in lost income for your client, as well as any of their family members who may need to support them. Furthermore, without private health insurance, they may have to cover the cost of private treatment themselves, creating additional financial burden.

Access to leading edge treatments

Health practices and treatments are advancing rapidly. Private health insurance can give your clients access to treatments that they may not have otherwise been able to afford.

Preventative care

Prevention is better than dealing with illness and discomfort. With the nib Proactive Health Option, it’s easier for your clients to stay healthy, and to enjoy life and all the things they have worked hard for. They’ll be covered for screening, such as breast screening, prostate screening, heart screening and mole mapping, allergy testing and vaccinations, gym memberships, weight loss management programmes, quit smoking programmes and routine health checks.” Click here to read more

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Wealthpoint introduces general insurance service, and more daily news

Wealthpoint has introduced the launch of the standalone General Insurance brokerage. Wealthpoint CEO Simon Manning has said that Wealthpoint General Insurance was formed to support advisers expand general insurance services as well as expanding supplier members with a focus on growing commercial, property and liability business lines. Wealthpoint General Insurance is based on the longstanding relationship with Vero and AMP General as well as new arrangements with Delta and Star Insurance. Manning has said that the dealer group has been considering this for a while as general insurance has always been a significant part of business for members. Creating a standalone brokerage means that Wealthpoint can form a working relationship with larger insurers under the IAG brand. Wealthpoint has partnered with Steadfast to form the new brokerage.

“The dealer group, formed from the former AMP advisers association, launched Wealthpoint General Insurance, a standalone brokerage for its 50 member businesses to transact through.

Wealthpoint chief executive, Simon Manning, said Wealthpoint General Insurance had been formed primarily to support member businesses to expand their general insurance offering to clients.

He said Wealthpoint was keen to expand the range of suppliers members could deal with, particularly for commercial, property and liability business lines.

Successful long-term relationships with AMP General and Vero Insurance were still in place and new supplier arrangements with specialist insurers such as Delta and Star Insurance were introduced for Wealthpoint members in the past year.

But, Manning said Wealthpoint was conscious that access to some of the larger insurers, including those operating under IAG brands, was only possible if structured through a standalone brokerage.

"General insurance has always been a pretty big part of our members' businesses and it's been something we have been thinking about for a long time," Manning said.

"There are a few unknowns about how much it will be used as it is only an option for our businesses who want to expand their GI operations or look to bring in more expertise."

Manning said uptake had been encouraging since they began offering its expanded services at the start of this month and "if we overshoot on our expectations then we will have to look for some more people pretty quickly".

"At the moment we are a small staff and are monitoring things closely but the phones have been ringing, so it's pretty encouraging."

He said while some Wealthpoint member businesses had explored the option of setting up their own brokerages, there were significant barriers such as high setup costs, lack of scale at member level and potential regulatory risks.

He said with that in mind Wealthpoint had joined forces with Auckland-based brokers Steadfast.

"They have been extremely helpful, they are very professional and have arrangements with virtually all of the market so that's helped us form alliances with all of the providers we want to.

"They have given us a really good tech platform as well.

"Now it's up to us working through the list of insurers and working with them to bring them onstream. Getting agreements in place will take time and we are being quite methodical working through that." Click here to read more

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nib announce changes to pricing, and more daily news

nib has announced that there will be a number of price changes from 1 April 2021. Pricing changes have been credited to the continued increase to nib’s claims’ costs. Current members will have the changes applied after their policy anniversary, if their policy anniversary doesn’t fall between April to June. nib has highlighted that price changes will vary for each member as price changes will depend on benefits, options and excess.

 

“Every quarter, nib reviews its health insurance premiums to ensure they are sufficient to cover both current and future claims, as well as to accurately reflect underlying costs.

 

Our latest review has identified that nib’s claims’ costs continue to increase, and as a result, our health insurance premiums need to be adjusted accordingly. These changes will vary between products, and will affect both current members renewing their policies and new policies sold this quarter.

 

Current members’ premiums are reviewed annually at their policy anniversary. If your client’s policy anniversary does not fall within the April – June period, there won’t be any change to their premiums until their next policy anniversary.

 

For the upcoming quarter, there is an average 9.7% annual increase for renewing policies.

 

Please note that the change in premium for each member will vary depending on the benefits, options and excess they have selected, who the policy covers and whether the premium includes a policy fee.

 

Other factors that can contribute to premium changes during the policy year include:

 

•  changes in cover terms for any of the people covered

•  changes in the ages of people covered

•  adding or removing people from the policy

•  a move from group cover to individual cover terms and conditions

•  loss of a Premium No Claims Discount or change in a five-year age band (these only apply to some legacy products).” 

Price changes will automatically be updated for quotes from 1 April. Quotes that were started before 1 April will be use current prices if the application goes into force within 30 days. Price changes for Ultimate Health Max will be spread across each quarter, most changes for Ultimate Health will happen on 1 April. The new rates will automatically be updated on nib illustrations and nibAPPLY. Advisers using nib Illustrator or Fidelity Life desktop Apollo will need to download the update before 31 March 2021 to ensure new rates are automatically applied. Prices changes will not affect group health as a whole, instead price changes will affect individuals that have enhanced cover terms, added family or added optional benefits.

 

“Premiums included in quotations for prospective new members will be updated from 1 April 2021.

 

For Ultimate Health Max: Premium increases are spread across each quarter throughout the year.

 

For Ultimate Health: Most of the annual increase occurs on 1 April each year.

            

The new rates will be automatically updated in nib illustrations and nibAPPLY. If you are using nib Illustrator and/or Fidelity Life desktop Apollo quoting software, make sure your quotations include the upcoming premium changes by downloading the update before 31 March 2021. Once you have downloaded the update, these rate changes will automatically apply to new and existing quotations after 1 April 2021.

 

Quotations dated before 1 April 2021 will be honoured if the application goes into force within 30 days of the quotation date. Note that quotations dated from 1 April 2021 will only be accepted at the new premium rates. 

 

For advisers who service group health insurance schemes, please be aware that the premium increases referred to above only apply to the individual members within a group where they have:

 

·       enhanced their group health insurance cover terms; or

·       added family or added optional benefits that they pay for personally.

 

The increase will apply to the portion of their health insurance premium relating to the enhanced cover terms and optional benefits, in the same way as those of members with individual covers. The member’s direct debit or payroll deduction will also change accordingly. Any increase in the group scheme’s premiums will be determined according to the scheme terms and conditions and will be paid for by the scheme owner.” 

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Quality Product Research: Health Insurance - major review process commenced for exclusions item rating

Introduction

Medical insurance is one of the most hotly contested areas of product comparison. Adjustments are made frequently to many features. Exclusions, however, are complex and difficult to compare. Although we update our exclusions ratings with every new product change released it is time to review the method and balance of the scoring of these items. We have therefore started the process of a major review.

Theme of review

The themes of this review are:

  1. A thorough review of all terms
  2. A focus on the relative weighting of the terms
  3. Calling for claims examples of how the terms are applied

Review process

We have alerted advisers and insurers to our plan to do a review and asked for data on the themes above. Changes will be based on our view of all the information sent to us.

We will then publish a model for changes to the guide scores for exclusions sub-items and ask for input on the proposed new model. Further changes may be made at this stage.

We are seeking claims examples for the review. Further changes may be made at this stage.

Timeline for review

March - advise review started

April - review claims information

May - consult on new model for rating

June - implement revised ratings

Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding.

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


Pinnacle Life offers self-servicing life insurance tool, and more daily news

Pinnacle Life has announced the introduction of a tool that allows people to understand how much life insurance cover they really needed. The tool is designed to identify important people in a user’s life and the user’s worry as well as the household income of the user. Once all details are provided, Pinnacle Life provides figures on the amount people with similar incomes spend in a month on insurance cover. Based on the user’s worry, Pinnacle Life also provides information on the types of cover and amount. Although the information is not personalised advice, there are "get more advice" and "get covered now" features available.

“Up until now, if you knew you needed life insurance, you could use some simple calculators that considered your financial needs, or you could talk to an insurance adviser. Pinnacle Life has always offered life insurance directly, but we couldn’t help you work out how much you needed in a thorough and sophisticated, and regulated, way. Now we can.

The tool starts by asking you to think about who’s important to you, and who relies on you for financial support. It then takes you through a step-by-step process of working out what your drivers are for getting insurance, what you worry about and your financial circumstances. We give you some things to think about along the way, but the more you tell us about you, the more we can tailor the advice to your situation. This includes telling us about your family, your health, your finances and any life cover you have already.

The cool thing is it doesn’t take very long to go through the whole process, and you can do it as many times as you like. To make it even easier (and quicker) get any details about your finances ready before you start – things like how much you earn and the amount of assets or debt you might have. You can do it on the couch in front of the tv and wearing your pajamas if you like, at 3 in the morning when you can’t sleep, on your own or with your partner, it’s up to you.” Click here to read more

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Pinnacle Life on insuring rainbow families, and more daily news

Pinnacle Life has published a piece on their website on the importance of insuring rainbow families. Pinnacle Life noted that families today no longer resemble the typical nuclear family unit. The piece focuses on rainbow families, which are families with parents who are part of the LGBTQI community. Pinnacle Life highlighted that the 2013 census recorded that there were 1,479 children of same-sex families in New Zealand. Pinnacle Life also noted that insurers base premium rates on assigned gender. While Pinnacle Life asks about a person’s gender, they have stated that they offer flexibility around policy ownership. Nonbinary individuals are still able to take out life insurance for themselves and their families, without worrying about gender-based pricing.

“The stereotypical family of 2021 is remarkably different from the family of 50 years ago. Mum, dad and two kids are becoming less the norm and more the unlikely. Today we are more likely to have blended families, split families, 1-child families, many kid families, single-parent families, multi-race families, rainbow families and more. With the pride festival winding down this week, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge rainbow families particularly. 

 

A rainbow family is a same-sex or LGBTQI-parented family. Statistics are hard to come by, but in 2013 the census recorded 1479 children of same-sex families in New Zealand. It's safe to imagine that if we broadened the definition, considered the number of people who didn't complete the census and increased public acceptance during this period, that this figure has probably doubled and is growing. Teachers and schools will be factoring this into activities involving families, clubs and community centres too. It's not difficult; it just takes a bit of thoughtfulness to remember that not all kids have a 'mum and dad'. Some have two mums, two dads, or a combination that extends beyond one of each or something in between.

 

If you're part of a rainbow family, you might be frustrated that life insurance companies seem to be behind the times. While there is total flexibility around who owns your policy, we still ask questions about gender, with the only options to be male and female. Some life insurance companies underwrite transgender applicants based on assigned gender, while others use their stated gender.

 

Life insurance rates are calculated based on assigned gender and this is understandably a sensitive subject for a lot of people. This is unfortunately the norm in the industry because of the statistics around mortality. We can ensure that, once you purchase your policy online, your true gender is recorded in your policy document.

 

The important thing is you can still get life insurance if you are nonbinary, and it doesn't mean that you'll pay higher premiums because of your gender.

 

Your rainbow family may not have a nonbinary member. Rainbow families come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing they all have in common is that a lot of thought went into creating the family in the first place. Finding the 'missing ingredient' takes consideration and planning that most heterosexual couples haven't had to give a second thought. And that's just the starting point.” Click here to read more

 

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