Since this information was first published, the proposal has been approved by 92.8% percent of members voting at the first SGM and 96.1% voting at the second SGM. An application for approval of the transfer will now be made to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand under section 49 of the Insurance Prudential Supervision Act 2010. If this approval is received, the Portfolio Transfer and integration of the two operations will take place.

Proposal to transfer the Accuro Health Insurance Society Ltd portfolio to Union Medical Benefits Society Ltd.

The information in this section provides details on the proposal to transfer the Accuro Health Insurance Society Ltd’s (Accuro) insurance portfolio and operations to Union Medical Benefits Society Ltd (UniMed).  

It explains the rationale behind the proposal, and why the Accuro Board unanimously recommended the proposal to members.

Overview of the proposal 

The proposal involves a transfer of Accuro’s insurance portfolio to UniMed, as part of a transfer of Accuro’s operations to UniMed. As part of this transfer, the resources of both organisations will be combined within UniMed, and all Accuro members would become members of UniMed. 

Having conducted appropriate due diligence, the Accuro Board believes that combining the two not-for-profit mutual societies will create an even more resilient and sustainable health insurance offering focused on delivering greater value and better customer health outcomes for the members of both Societies. 

As member-based Societies, we do not have to return a profit to shareholders, but we do need to ensure we are financially strong and resilient, and this has been a key driver in taking this strategic decision. Having bigger scale will allow us to remain responsive to changing market conditions and affordability challenges in the healthcare environment and provide more options to develop new products and services. It also means that we would be better able to respond to and recover from unexpected events, like the cyber incident at Accuro’s external IT provider in late 2022 which has impacted us over the last 10 months.  

While the proposal would combine the Accuro and UniMed capabilities and resources of both organisations within UniMed, both brands would continue, and members will continue to receive the same cover and benefits as defined in their existing policy terms and conditions. 

Our goal is to provide long-term, sustainable and affordable access to healthcare services for members. We believe the proposal will do that and is therefore in the best interests of Accuro members. 

The proposal must be agreed to by 75 percent of Accuro members involved in the votes at two Special General Meetings (SGM’s), after which it will be submitted to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) for final approval. If approval is granted, Accuro Health Insurance Society Ltd would cease operations and be wound up in accordance with the requirements of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1908. 

What would it mean for me as a member?  

There will be very little will change from a member perspective. The Accuro and UniMed brands will continue to operate, and you will receive the exact same cover and benefits. 

Importantly, there will be no change to your product, cover and benefits as defined by your current Accuro Policy.

What will change is that UniMed becomes the insurer and you will become a member of UniMed, rather than being a member of Accuro. Because both Societies are governed by the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, this also means very little change in practice. Our rules are similar and, most importantly, we are both mutual societies that exist for the benefit of our members. You will continue to have the opportunity to elect Directors to the Board and can have confidence that any operating surpluses will be reinvested for the benefits of members, rather than being returned to an external shareholder. If you would like to review the UniMed Society rules, you can read them here on the UniMed website. 

While nothing changes for you in terms of benefits or cover, what does change is that you will now be part of a larger, more resilient health insurance society, with around 140,000 members and 100 staff. This means we will be better able to operate efficiently and effectively in the current healthcare, regulatory and economic environment, with the aim of delivering greater value and better health outcomes for members. 

Why UniMed? 

We are excited by the potential created from combining the resources of both Societies to help deliver long-term sustainable and secure benefits for members. 

  • Like Accuro, UniMed is a New Zealand-based not-for-profit mutual society returning all benefits to members. We share a vision of improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders and we are always looking for ways to improve member services and access to affordable healthcare.  
  • Both Accuro and UniMed enjoy high levels of member and staff loyalty, have strong relationships with advisors and intermediaries, and are both focused on retaining and strengthening those relationships. 
  • We share a similar history with both organisations having their origins in links to unions – Accuro began representing the interests of workers in health boards, and UniMed was linked to the trade union movement.  
  • We have a very similar governance model and set of rules. 
  • We have complementary capabilities, with UniMed traditionally being very strong in the mid-to-large employer market segments, and Accuro in the individual and smaller employer markets. 
  • We have both been operating in New Zealand since the 1970s and have grown to offer very similar health insurance products to both individuals and employers in a range of sectors.  
  • Importantly, UniMed is financially very strong, with significant capital reserves. As at their last balance dates UniMed held net assets of $155m, compared to $11.8m for Accuro. This is also recognised in UniMed’s “A” (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating (FSR).*  

This is not the first time that UniMed and Accuro have discussed combining, but it is the first time all the different elements have aligned so well. The challenges of being a small health insurer have always existed, but the rising cost of healthcare and increasingly complex regulatory environment that we are operating in has made the case for doing this now more compelling. 

If approved, members would become part of the country’s third largest medical insurer representing nearly 10 percent of the market with around 140,000 members and the scale to create a more resilient and sustainable health insurance offering, while keeping in place all of the great things that make member-based mutual societies so special. 

Process and timing 

Accuro’s rules and the Industrial and Provident Societies Act require 75% of those participating in a vote across two SGM’s to support the proposal. This threshold was achieved at the SGM’s held on 30 October and 20 November.

 The proposal now requires approval by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand under section 49 of the Insurance Prudential Supervision Act 2010. If this approval is received, the Portfolio Transfer and integration of the two operations will take place. At this stage we expect that to occur in early 2024.  

Once the transfer is executed, the Board will take steps under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1908 to wind up the business of Accuro Health Insurance Society Ltd.

* UniMed Financial Strength Rating: A (Excellent)

The Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010 requires all New Zealand health insurers to be given a Financial Strength Rating.

AM Best has assessed Union Medical Benefits Society Limited (UniMed) as having an A (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating.

The Rating reflects UniMed’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as UniMed’s strong operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.

Financial Strength Ratings Scale

For information about the Rating Scale, Category Definitions, and Rating Disclosure, see the AM Best Ratings Guide