NZ's largest travel insurer announces restructure plan

Tuesday , 2 June 2020 by Susannah Walker

Southern Cross Travel Insurance has announced a proposed restructure as a result of the shut-down of international travel due to COVID-19.

The reshaping of New Zealand’s largest travel insurer will potentially impact all areas of the business and see 90 current FTE roles reduced to 45.

The proposed changes relate only to Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) and not to any of the other Southern Cross businesses.

The CEO of SCTI, Chris White, said he had shared the proposal with staff this afternoon.

“Like many others in the travel sector, we have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and as a result we are looking to reduce costs and scale down our workforce for the immediate future.

“A strong return to international travel, our core business, is unlikely in the medium term and as difficult as it is, we have no choice but to take steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.

“We remain in a strong financial position despite COVID-19 and our focus now is on reshaping the business, so we are ready to scale up again when international travel is back to full strength.”

SCTI took steps to reduce head count at the start of the pandemic when international border closures first took hold, reducing its workforce from 116 to 90 by discontinuing arrangements with temporary staff and contractors.

White said that while the proposed restructure wasn’t necessarily a shock for staff, it was tough for everyone.

“I have been transparent about the impact of COVID-19 and about the fact the business would have to change.

“We are focused on maintaining core products and services as well as looking at how we can meet the immediate and emerging needs of our customers with new policy offerings.”

The travel insurer is now consulting with staff about the proposed changes, which would not take effect until 10 July.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance is unique in that its profits are paid to the Southern Cross charitable trust in the form of a dividend to be used to benefit the community.