NIB Q1 costs mount in claims catch-up

Insurer NIB has paid more in hospital benefits during its first quarter as hordes of customers had treatment earlier postponed due to the pandemic.

NIB paid 3.2 per cent more than in the first quarter last year as elective surgery and other treatment resumed across most of Australia, having earlier been postponed due to the coronavirus threat.

Hospital benefits were $246.77 million for the three months to September 30, the company told shareholders at its annual general meeting on Thursday.

However the insurer’s cost of paying hospital benefits would have been much higher if Victoria had not been under strict coronavirus restrictions. Many Victorians’ treatment was postponed further.

NIB data showed the cost of paying hospital benefits was 6.1 per cent higher if Victorians were not included.

Chair Steve Crane said $98.8 million had been put aside to help cover the expected claims increase this financial year.

There is uncertainty about when more of these delayed claims will be made, given Victorians have only had some restrictions eased in recent weeks.

Ancillary benefits paid in the first quarter, which cover treatment at dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists, were up 1.5 per cent to $90.46 million.

In better results for NIB, sales of its Australian health insurance products rose by 10,000.

This figure is the difference between sales and cancelled products. A sale could be to an individual or family.

Sales of travel insurance continued to plummet due to coronavirus restrictions.

Sales at NIB Travel (mostly to Australian residents) tallied 14,207 in NIB’s first quarter, down from 329,891 for the same quarter last year.

There were 15,288 sales of travel insurance to people entering Australia (overseas students, migrants) compared to 30,360 for the same quarter last year.

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