HBF plans general insurance coup

WA’S biggest health insurer HBF is planning to boost its presence in the competitive general insurance market after the Federal Government’s health cover drive delivered a windfall membership gain.

HBF wants to target about 100,000 new members who joined the fund in the 15 months to September 30 to cross-sell them general insurance products.

A rise of almost 13 per cent to 890,000 members was prompted largely by new rules limiting private health insurance costs for those who signed up earlier in their lives under the government’s Lifetime Health Cover initiative.

In addition, another 50,000 existing HBF members upgraded their insurance to hospital cover.

Ivor James, who has headed the general insurance division since 1998, said he was eyeing the possibilities for his operation to capitalise on the big membership jump.

“That presents a lot of opportunities in the general insurance business,” Mr James said.

“We are hoping to sell more products to the members.”

The fund’s general insurance arm already claims to be the leading travel insurer in WA and the third biggest car insurer – putting around third spot in the general insurance market behind clear frontrunners RAC and SGIO.

HBF claims about 65 per cent of the WA health insurance market.

Mr James, has been promoted to managing director and given a seat on the board of HBF Insurance Pty Ltd, the holding company for the general insurance business, which recorded a mild rise in revenue to $45.6 million for the year ending June 30 compared to $43.6 million the previous corresponding period.

Against that, health insurance revenue was up 11.6 per cent to $423.5 million, taking total revenue 9 per cent higher to $480.5 million.

Mr James said the general insurance arm had grown swiftly in the two years previous to 1999-2000 but the group had used the most recent financial year to consolidate that growth and prepare for the next stage.

During the year general insurance claims fell $4.1 million whereas health insurance payouts gained $34 million to $380 million.

HBF group’s surplus was $6.3 million compared to $1.2 million in 1998-99.


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Assets under management or net assets ($m)

4th-WA Super$2,162.0m
5th-BWP Trust$1,837.0m
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