Bupa has announced it will return $120 million to its Australian customers as a result of savings made from lower claims activity during COVID-19 restrictions.
In the early period of the pandemic, the prudential regulator directed private health insurers to set aside funds for future claims and in response to a temporary halt on most elective surgery.
Insurers are now in the process of returning this 'deferred claims liability' through benefits, one-off cash payments and potentially lower premium increases.
The managing director of Bup Health Insurance, Emily Amos, said the decision to return funds was the next step in the company's support for customers impacted by COVID-19.
“We’ve always said we wouldn’t seek to benefit from the COVID pandemic. As we haven’t seen claims return to levels that we originally anticipated, we wanted our customers to share in these savings,” said Ms Amos.
“We know many of our customers and communities have struggled through this time, and we want to support them given the ongoing lockdowns.”
Bupa said the payments will be available to all domestic Australian resident customers who had private health cover with Bupa for a minimum of three months between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.
Ms Amos said customers could expect to receive a payment of between $15 and $110 depending on their policy, with an average payment of $71.
“We are returning savings in the form of a cash payment as we know this gives our customers more choice to use the money in a way that is most valuable to them,” said Ms Amos.
Bupa said the $120 million in cash payments brings its total COVID-19 support for its health insurance customers to more than $315 million over the past 18 months, including premium waivers, delaying premium increases and mental health support.
“We’ll be writing to our customers over the coming months to let them know when and how much money they can expect to see the money in their account."
Ms Amos said most customers would receive funds directly to their bank account by the end of the year, and where Bupa did not have a customer’s bank account details, they would be in touch to get those details.
“It is clear that COVID-19 will continue to impact our customers and communities, as we’ve seen through the current outbreaks. Our focus remains on supporting our customers and our people throughout this challenging time,” added Ms Amos.