Sovereign aims for a rich level of engagement


We all know that there are things we could do to boost our health – health insurer Sovereign wants to help us make it a priority.

Most of us know that we should be just a little bit healthier than we currently are – right? It’s difficult, though, to find the motivation to make any major lifestyle changes. Well, leading health and life insurer, Sovereign, has launched New Zealand’s first loyalty programme to reward people for their everyday health choices including getting out for a walk, heading to the gym or simply doing a fresh grocery shop.


In a bold move aimed at motivating Kiwis to take charge of their health and wellbeing and help create a healthier New Zealand, the innovative programme, Healthy by Sovereign , gives Kiwis access to rewards and an annual cash-back based on points they earn for everyday healthy behaviours.

Partnering with leading health and wellbeing brands including Fitbit, Garmin, Club Physical, Next Gen, Configure Express, Jetts and New World, Healthy by Sovereign members can earn points across a number of areas including movement, exercise, nutrition and general wellbeing.

CANSTAR caught up with Sovereign Chief Officer of Health Business, Len Elikhis, to find out a bit more.

Q: Where did the concept for Healthy by Sovereign come from?  How did you decide on the level of reward/activity that was appropriate?

A: The idea for Healthy By Sovereign was based on customer research which showed a customer’s value perception of insurance was related to whether they claimed on their policy. Recognising and rewarding healthy lifestyles was another key out-take from the research.

Healthy by Sovereign has been developed as a comprehensive healthy living offering. Through our network of key partners (wearable devices, gyms, fitness centres, and retailers), it has been launched as the first insurance programme in New Zealand to empower Kiwis to take charge of their health in a holistic way, with a focus on moving, eating, sleeping, and wellbeing, and with meaningful rewards along the way.

Points are earned for healthy choices and customers can redeem these points in the form of gym vouchers and cash-backs. Research shows that “gamification” helps to build programme engagement, based on this we developed four tiers to encourage active participation.

We wanted the programme to be accessible to New Zealanders of all ages and abilities and encourage customers to move through the tiers as their physical activity increases. Importantly, members don’t have to be triathletes to earn the top level of rewards; this can be achieved by simply taking a daily walk, going to a couple fitness classes, and making healthy food choices.

Q:  As in a number of other countries, obesity is a challenge for New Zealand. To what extent do you think that this type of program could be a real game-changer to kick start healthy habits for some people?

 A: Obesity is often the result of a range of lifestyle factors – lack of physical activity, an unbalanced diet, and/or disrupted sleep. Our programme seeks to support customers who want to take charge of these factors.

Healthy By Sovereign takes a holistic approach:

  • We help customers identify opportunities to improve their lifestyle choices through a free Wellness Assessment;
  • We encourage engagement with the GP through annual health check-ups; and
  • We’ve worked with our fitness and gym partners to offer customers discounted memberships.

One of the next areas of focus will be to provide our customers with access to meaningful resources to help them improve their health literacy.

Q: “Digital disruption” is a buzzword at the moment. Is the Healthy by Sovereign app, and the connectivity to wearable tech, an example of how technology can positively disrupt your lifestyle?

A: Over the last few years, there has been a proliferation of healthy living apps and wearable devices. In general, these technologies have focussed on a single aspect of healthy living. Our approach for Healthy By Sovereign has been to use technology to combine the four aspects of healthy living – movement, diet, sleep, and wellbeing. By using a “gamification” approach for the programme, the aim of the programme is to create a rich level of engagement which will ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of the member community.

Q: Most people love being rewarded – what level of take up are you hoping for? 

A: Healthy By Sovereign is currently available to eligible new and existing Sovereign health insurance customers. As an entirely new concept for the Kiwi insurance market, we’re excited to see how people engage with the programme. Ultimately, we would love to see all our health customers engage with the programme and already we’re seeing good levels of interest since launch. As a major stakeholder in the New Zealand insurance market, we want to do our part in improving New Zealand’s health outcomes.

Healthy Points can be earned by tracking steps taken each day, working out at partner gyms, fresh food shops at New World, and getting an annual check-up at the GP and dentist.

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