A guide to health insurance companies in New Zealand

For consumers weighing up whether to purchase health insurance, or considering switching providers, there are a number of options available, with different funds and plans catering to different requirements.

Before arriving at the point of purchasing health insurance there are, of course, a number of determinations that should be made, which need to be considered on an individual basis, and it is worthwhile considering the pros and cons of both public healthcare and health insurance.

However, for consumers who have determined that health insurance is a sound purchase, the next step is deciding which provider and plan to opt for, and as with any such purchase it is worthwhile shopping around.

Health Funds Association of New Zealand statistics reveal that last year the number of New Zealanders getting health insurance rose nearly 20,000 year-on-year, with the total number with private health insurance cover standing at 1.36 million as of December 31.

Health insurance is clearly a preferred option for many New Zealanders. So, which companies are operating in the sector and what exactly are some of the options that they are offering consumers?

Health insurance companies in NZ

There are four prominent health insurance companies in NZ. They are:

  • Southern Cross Healthcare
  • NIB
  • Sovereign
  • UniMed

We will get an overview of each company to help you decide which might be the best bet for your health cover.

Southern Cross

Part of the not-for-profit Southern Cross Healthcare Group, the Southern Cross Health Society provides a range of plans, offering different levels of coverage.

“Our health insurance plans reflect the various stages, budgets and cover required to keep Kiwis covered, whether it be for major surgical, day-to-day healthcare or just peace of mind,” Southern Cross states.

Southern Cross’ main plan options comprise its:

  • Health Essentials – designed to look after day-to-day healthcare costs
  • Wellbeing Starter – an entry-level plan designed to cover big concerns
  • Wellbeing One – a broad surgical and healthcare plan
  • Wellbeing Two – a comprehensive surgical and healthcare plan
  • UltraCare – a premium surgical, healthcare and day-to-day plan

Consumers can compare plans and get a quote via the Southern Cross website, and also have the option of applying for their chosen plan online.

Southern Cross customers can manage their policy online via My Southern Cross, with policyholders able to access functions including:

  • Make a claim and track its progress
  • Apply for prior approval
  • View available communications
  • Manage billing and payments
  • Update contact details
  • View remaining balances for annual policy benefits

Customers who have registered for My Southern Cross can also download the My Southern Cross app, available for both Android and iOS devices.

Southern Cross provides a range of information via its website Help page. Consumers can contact Southern Cross via phone, while members, and consumers interested in joining Southern Cross, have the option of submitting online forms via the Southern Cross website.


NIB offers a number of different health insurance options, comprising varying levels of coverage.

“As the second largest health insurer in New Zealand, we provide a range of health insurance options for Kiwis and their families, as well as for New Zealand companies who want health insurance for their employees,” NIB states.

NIB’s health insurance coverage encompasses its:

  • Private hospital cover – comprising  basic, mid and top covers
  • Everyday cover – comprising basic and mid covers

Consumers can compare the different conditions and benefits of NIB’s basic, mid and top private hospital covers via its website, with each level providing coverage across selected categories.

Of its everyday covers, NIB states that they “are for health costs that don’t generally need a hospital visit, like visiting the doctor, buying new glasses, or no-referral physio”.

Consumers have the option of taking out either a private hospital or everyday cover as a single cover or of combining the two together, and can get a quote and sign-up via the NIB website.

NIB customers can manage their policy online, and have the option of downloading the ‘My NIB” app, available for Android and iOS devices.

Via my NIB, customers have access to functions including:

  • Claim online for treatment like GP, dental, optical and specialist consultations
  • Track claims
  • View policy details

Consumers can get in touch with NIB via phone or email, and also have the option of requesting a call back via the NIB website.


Sovereign states of its health insurance options that it has “two comprehensive plans that give you the range of benefits you’d expect”.

These plans comprise Sovereign’s:

  • Private Health Cover: a standard health insurance plan, taking “care of the costs of private hospital care and surgery, cancer care and supporting diagnostic imaging and tests”
  • Private Health Plus: providing “additional access to specialist consultations and cover for diagnostic imaging and testing, as well as loyalty benefits for routine screening to keep you healthy”

Consumers can compare the respective benefits of both plans via Sovereign’s website, and can get a quick estimate, and get a quote and apply online, or can submit a form via the website and request a phone call from an adviser.

Sovereign provides a range of information on different topics via its website, and consumers can additionally contact Sovereign by phone and email.


UniMed states that it is one of New Zealand’s top four group health insurers, describing itself as “low-key and low-cost compared with other top health insurance companies”. UniMed states that it can keep its “premiums low because we’re a pure Kiwi, not-for-profit mutual society”.

“All of our plans reward long-term continuous membership with special loyalty benefits, including extra cover, and our surgery plans offer the option of adding an excess to ensure your premiums remain affordable,” UniMed states.

UniMed’s plans comprise its:

  • Health Positive – which it describes as ideal for under-35s
  • Unicare Plus – health cover for employer group voluntary schemes and medium-sized company subsidised schemes
  • Major Surgical – described as its most popular plan, for customers happy to pay for everyday medical costs such as doctors’ visits and prescriptions but who want cover for big ticket operations
  • Medicalcare – described as popular for groups as a base plan for subsidised staff cover, popular with people who want solid cover for surgical procedures, specialists consultations and tests, including cover for consultations and tests where no surgery is required
  • Hospital Select – its most extensive cover, for customers who want security of full cover for major surgical procedures and a policy that reflects the real, recent costs of procedures

Consumers can request a quote online, submitting their details and requesting that UniMed respond by phone or email.

Consumers can get in touch with UniMed via phone, or by submitting a form via the UniMed website.

Which health insurance company should you go with?

As you can tell from the details above, there are many, many options for consumers interested in taking out health cover in New Zealand. The important message from this review is that consumers should always compare a wide range of offers to find the level of cover that best meets their specific needs, while also being conscious of price. It is also crucial to thoroughly read the product disclosure statement of any policy before signing up.

For some extra guidance, you can compare health insurance companies in NZ with Canstar’s customer satisfaction ratings. Every year we survey thousands of Kiwis who have recently made a claim on their health insurance, and get their feedback on their provider and the service they received.

Health Insurance Customer Ratings

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