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Nib's NZ earnings rise 20% on smaller claims bill

Nib's NZ earnings rise 20% on smaller claims bill, fewer premium paybacks

By Paul McBeth

Feb. 19 (BusinessDesk) - Nib Holdings' New Zealand unit boosted first-half profit as the health insurer paid out fewer claims than a year earlier and had a smaller premium payback bill on its product which reimburses policyholders the difference between premiums received and claims paid.

Underlying operating earnings rose to A$13.1 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from A$10.9 million a year earlier, the Sydney-based insurer said in a statement. Revenue shrank 2.5 percent to A$97.5 million due to foreign exchange movements but was up 1.2 percent in kiwi dollar terms as new customer lines made up for the loss of a corporate customer. Claims costs dropped 10 percent to A$58 million on fewer claims and a lower premium payback liability.

"We've made good progress this year in expanding our direct-to-consumer segment as well as our industry-leading white-label capability, recently welcoming Stuff to our stable of partners such as the New Zealand Automobile Association," NZ chief executive Rob Henin said. "Our performance first half reflects the significant investment we are making in growth opportunities while continuing our focus on delivering value to our customers and achieving impressive operational efficiencies."

Nib's group net profit slipped 0.3 percent to A$70.9 million on an 8.9 percent gain in revenue to A$8.9 billion, as one-off acquisition costs weighed on the bottom line. The board declared an interim dividend of 9 Australian cents per share.

The New Zealand division is the Australian insurer's smallest, accounting for 101,151 policyholders, or 12 percent of the group's 816,676 policyholders. That compares to 106,460, or 14 percent of 751,629 policyholders a year earlier.

Nib's ASX-listed shares rose 1 percent to A$6.495.



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