Urgent surgery proposed for insurer’s direct business

by Maryvonne Gray 24 Sep 2014

Urgent surgery proposed for insurer’s direct business

IAG’s State Insurance brand is proposing to slice off its surgical insurance policies and transfer them to specialist health insurance provider UniMed, the company announced in a statement yesterday.

The reason behind the move was due to IAG feeling unable to offer the level of specialised support customers need, the statement said.

The investment required to compete more effectively was felt not to be warranted in the face of uncertain returns, IAG spokesman Craig Dowling said.

The proposal, which is subject to approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and feedback from customers, affects around stand-alone 1800 policies, with IAG expecting the impact on staff to be minimal due to redeployment opportunities.

Head of specialist business for IAG’s direct insurance division, Lisa Hope, said the proposal came on the back of a review examining whether State’s surgical insurance policy holders could be adequately provided for in a way consistent with State’s commitment to customers.

“The State brand seeks to be known for delivering a superior customer experience and ensuring that customers can benefit from our insurance knowledge,” Hope said.

“But it is clear from the review that providing surgical insurance requires a level of specialised support for our customers that sits outside our core capabilities and is difficult to maintain.”

The transfer to UniMed, which is one of New Zealand’s top four health insurance companies, was not taken lightly, she said.

“We’ve carefully considered all the options and believe a proposed transfer to UniMed is the right choice for our customers.”

If the proposal is approved, the policies would be transferred from 1 December 2014 with UniMed then assuming the same obligations that State has under customers’ existing surgical policies.

State has offered surgical cover since 1996.