Southern Cross Benefits Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the charitable Southern Cross Health Trust) has purchased the policies of Christchurch-based Ellenco Pet Insurance.
Southern Cross Benefits Ltd owns and operates the highly-successful online travel insurer Southern Cross Travel Insurance.
Southern Cross Healthcare Group CEO Ian McPherson said the move into pet insurance was a further growth and diversification opportunity for the Southern Cross Health Trust. The purchase follows on from the launch of the Southern Cross Primary Care business in 2010, which works in partnership with GPs to develop new opportunities and services in primary care.
“Pet insurance is a natural extension for Southern Cross. Many New Zealanders count their pets as part of the family. However, currently very few owners have pet insurance, meaning they are exposed to what can be very high bills should their pet be affected by an unexpected illness or injury,” said McPherson.
A 2011 survey by the New Zealand Companion Animal Council found that only 5% of cat owners and 8% of dog owners had pet insurance.
McPherson said customers recently surveyed felt pet insurance would be a good fit for Southern Cross.
“Our focus is on achieving the best possible value for our customers – whether it’s in travel or health insurance, hospital care, primary care and now pet insurance. We consistently receive very good feedback in customer service surveys, and have over 50 years’ experience in the insurance field plus a strong and stable financial performance to offer our customers.”
Though they share the same brand, the Southern Cross Health Trust and its businesses operate independently and at arm’s length from the Southern Cross Health Society (New Zealand’s largest health insurer). No members’ funds from the Health Society were used in the pet insurance transaction.
Southern Cross Benefits Limited has an A+ (Strong) financial strength rating from Standard & Poor's, is a Registered Financial Service Provider, and is a member of the Insurance & Savings Ombudsman’s Disputes Resolution Scheme.