Here’s everything you need to know about insurance options when you are emigrating to New Zealand.
Ahhh New Zealand…….
For many people, the promise of a Kiwi lifestyle for either work, study or to live permanently is too strong to resist. I know firsthand as 10 years ago we made the jump from Scotland to New Zealand. Not only do we emigrants have to leave behind family, friends and a culture we knew we also have to leave behind our insurance policies.
Coming from Scotland I was used to free doctors visits and prescriptions, and access to the best medications. I also had life, income and health insurance policies that had been in place for years and covered my pre-existing conditions. But when I got to New Zealand I had to put all of this in place again, as best I could. For myself, with a residents visa and a great employer this wasn’t too difficult but for plenty of our immigrant friends it wasn’t such a breeze….
What is the challenge?
Insurance is not easy to get your head around for many new immigrants to these shores. Over the years I have been approached by many recent arrivals (and those about to arrive) from all over the world looking to get some health insurance or life cover, or looking to protect their salary. I am no immigration expert but I do know insurance and I know what covers are available for your type of visa and the restrictions that apply.
The key piece of information is that the type of visa that you have effectively dictates the type of insurance you are allowed.
Visitor, working holiday or student visa?
If you are in New Zealand as a visitor on a working holiday or a student visa, and you can’t access the public health system, then you can take out health insurance although it is a slightly different policy than residents can access. The options are limited as not all companies offer cover. One company offers a particularly good option that several of my clients use, which also allows a smooth transition over to a full policy when residency changes.
Visa for 2-years or more?
If your visa allows you to stay here for at least two years then it is possible (in most cases) to apply for health, life, income, and other disability insurances. Health cover is definitely worth considering as the public health waiting lists can be long in NZ. Depending on the type of visa you hold there may be some restrictions but, in general, it should be possible to get fairly comprehensive cover. There are some minor issues like having to take indemnity income policies but essentially this makes very little difference to the quality of cover available. There may also be some exclusions based on your length of time out of the country.
Finally, permanent residency allows access to the full range of policies, just like your average Kiwi (person not bird). No additional restrictions or exclusions are automatically applied and if you are fit and healthy then there will be no problems in getting a top-notch comprehensive policy in place to protect you and your family. You came over here for a lifestyle change and insurance is a necessary step in protecting that.
Some people here in New Zealand will talk about the benefits residents have from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). It’s important to remember that ACC only covers accidental injuries, the amount of cover has a maximum and any claim is taxable. Most long-term absences (about 80% of them) are caused by illness – which ACC doesn’t cover.
Get all your insurances in place while you are young and healthy! Then any health conditions that come up are not pre-existing and won’t affect your premiums!
The sensible thing to do is contact an independent insurance adviser before or shortly after arriving in the country to make sure that you can get the cover your family needs as soon as possible. Many insurance advisers also work with a mortgage adviser, Kiwisaver specialist, and have links to other financial advice that may be beneficial in transferring pensions and other assets.
New Zealand is a great country to live in, with a fantastic lifestyle and amazing opportunities if you want to take them but it is also important to make sure that your new lifestyle is protected financially and independent advice is essential in putting your plan together.
Get in touch now to talk through your options by calling 0800 COVER YOURS or filling out the form below. No obligation – just straightforward advice. Based in Kapiti or Wellington (or are passing through)? Let’s meet face to face to talk through your options. That’s not an offer you’ll get from online providers!
REGISTERED FINANCIAL ADVISER
P: 0800 COVER YOURS (0800 268 379) M: 022 040 7117