Insurer still catching up on claims postponed by lockdowns

Insurer still catching up on claims postponed by lockdowns | Insurance Business

Insurer still catching up on claims postponed by lockdowns

New Zealand was one of nib Group’s strongest performers in the half-year results released this week, though nib New Zealand CEO Rob Hennin said that the ‘claims surge’ from postponed treatments isn’t quite over yet, and may take several more months to stabilise.

Hennin says that the Group was pleased with the overall result, and that New Zealand’s swift handle on COVID-19 meant healthcare providers could resume their usual services much quicker than their Australian counterparts. However, he noted that nib New Zealand had already used up a large chunk of its provision for postponed claims, and that it is not expecting to make any claims savings.

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“We’re really pleased with how the last six months have gone, and we’ve produced a good result in a challenging environment,” Hennin told Insurance Business.

“It’s clear that New Zealand coming out of lockdown early means that the trajectory of some of our key drivers is different to Australia, however, we are seeing a claims trajectory that is steeper than it is over there.”

“That really reflects a couple of things – we’re seeing the extent to which the postponed treatments and claims are catching up, and that was particularly evident in the September-November period last year,” he explained.

“We’re also seeing that the private hospital and specialist side has really transformed its business, and has returned to business much faster than it has in Australia, and is putting more procedures through. But the claims levels haven’t quite stabilised yet, and we’ve put a claims provision in place to compensate for that catchup.”

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Hennin said that nib New Zealand had used about 72% of its claims provision so far – a larger figure than anticipated, given it expected most of the postponed claims to start coming through at around this time. He said the group will likely continue to see the impact of those claims for a few more months, before things stabilise to ‘pre-COVID’ levels.

“In terms of claims savings, we didn’t expect to make any from the start,” he added.

“If you need to see a specialist, have a diagnostic check or schedule a surgery but you can’t get there because of COVID-19 restrictions, you would still expect to have that procedure, whether that’s through the public or the private sector. So there’s definitely a catchup there, and we’ll have to deal with it on an ongoing basis.”