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It started as a relationship about a building, but today the link between Southern Cross and Foster Construction is much more about building a relationship. It all began when the commercial construction company was working on an extension to the Southern Cross Hospital in Hamilton. A casual conversation about workplace health insurance touched on the services offered by the Southern Cross Health Society - and one thing naturally led to another. Attracted by its relationship-led, tailored approach, Fosters Construction switched its health insurance to Southern Cross in April 2013.

Recognising competitive forces

Established in 1973 and still privately owned, Foster Construction is one of Waikato's leading commercial construction businesses, with about 100 employees and an annual turnover exceeding $60 million.

The company's success depends on the skills and experience of its staff, particularly those in key positions such as site managers and quantity surveyors. However, it's acutely aware of the competitive market in which it operates - and the challenges of attracting this talent, and retaining it for the long term.

Our decision to offer health insurance responds to this situation, says Leonard Gardner, Foster Construction's Commercial Manager. It's a way to show them that we both value their service and support their overall health and wellbeing - whether they're already with our business or thinking of joining, or re-joining, us.

Fosters offers its employees Southern Cross's Wellbeing One plan, which covers surgery and related expenses, and includes cover for qualifying pre-existing conditions.* Fully subsidised for 30 of the company's senior team and a voluntary option for the remainder, it's proved almost universally popular.

We promoted the plan in our staff newsletter and sent memos to our senior team, while Southern Cross contacted individuals by email and met each one in person, says Leonard.

We received a fantastic response, with the vast majority of our people signing up. The youngest to join is aged just 22 and the oldest 67, so we're helping to meet a huge range of healthcare needs.

Principles in practice

For Site Manager Chad Rendall, Foster Construction's move to Southern Cross came at the perfect time, as his baby daughter Brya needed ear, nose and throat surgery. While the family already had health insurance, there was a possibility that Brya's operation wouldn't be funded because of a pre-existing condition.

Unable to breathe through her nose, Brya was clearly in considerable discomfort, and Chad and his wife Monique were finding the whole process incredibly stressful. So when Chad heard that the Fosters package covered all qualifying pre-existing conditions, he signed his family up straightaway - and within 24 hours the operation was approved and completed. Brya was on her way home, and soon back to her usual happy, bubbly self. It was fantastic, says Chad. Southern Cross were great to deal with and so quick to approve everything, and with Brya likely to need more surgery later on we know she's covered for the future.

A partnership based on understanding

Leonard says Foster Construction is very happy with its new health insurance partnership. Southern Cross understands the importance of good relationships, he says. They knew we were looking for an appropriate and consistently applied plan for our key staff as well as the rest of the team. Now we have one, and we're confident that it will work well for our business.

*Depending on the size of the work scheme and level of subsidy offered, cover for qualifying pre-existing conditions may be available. Please speak to a Southern Cross representative for further details.

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