New Zealand Health Insurance

The standard of medical treatment available in New Zealand’s public health system is generally excellent. But there are long waiting lists for many surgical procedures, and before you get on the waiting list it can take months to get specialist appointments, leaving you in pain and perhaps even unable to work.

As a result, many people have medical insurance so that they don’t have to wait for access to specialists and surgery as and when required. This care is usually provided in private medical facilities.

Types of medical insurance policy:

  1.  Hospital Cover/Surgical Cover – these are cost effective policies. They are intended to provide a health safety net, and primarily covers surgery costs but can also include visits to specialists, tests and private post-operative care. Day-to-day medical expenses such as visits to GPs, X-Rays and prescriptions are not covered.
  2.  Comprehensive Cover – in addition to surgical treatment, these policies can cover day-to-day medical treatment such as GP visits, dental care, optical care, physiotherapy, radiology and funeral grants. Some policies also include regular check-ups and preventative health care.

Different insurers offer different levels of cover within these two broad definitions, and some even offer discounts if you have a low level of claims or commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Health insurance premiums

Health insurance premiums are set depending on age, medical history and lifestyle factors. You must answer these questions fully and honestly, or your cover could be compromised. In most cases there is no need for medicals. Some employers subsidise or pay for their employee’s health cover under group schemes.

All medical policies have exclusions and maximums, and it is important to understand what these are before you purchase cover, especially when you have a pre-existing condition. Some also have excesses, where you pay a set sum towards any health care you need and your insurer covers the rest. This can considerably reduce your premiums, so can be well worth considering.

It is advisable to have at least Hospital/Surgical private medical cover in New Zealand as this will pay for the more expensive medical procedures and cut out the waiting time for an operation, getting you back to health as soon as possible.



As a visitor or migrant to New Zealand and a UK resident you are not eligible for public health services other than emergency and accidents until one of the following criteria have been met:

  •  you are a NZ citizen or permanent resident, or
  • you are an Australian citizen or permaent resident who’s lived, or intends to live in NZ for at least 2 years, or
  • you are a work visa holder who’s eligible to be here for 2 years or more, or
  • you are under 17 and your parent or guardian is eligible

There is a reciprocal health agreement between New Zealand and the UK, however this is just as a New Zealander in Britain is entitled to free NHS treatment in an emergency, so the same applies to Britions in New Zealand.

However, the New Zealand Ministry of Health stresses that this provision is likely to be insufficient. It says that those ineligible for full state care and those relying on UK-NZ reciprocal arrangements should buy private insurance “because reciprocal arrangements only cover immediate and necessary treatments. It adds “Visits to a General Practitioner,non-urgent or discretionary services, rehabilitation and repatriation are not funded within the reciprocal agreement”. Also, reciprocal agreements do not include follow up care, ongoing treatment or medicines for existing conditions.

As a result, if you are heading to New Zealand we strongly recommend that you hold insurance that will cover you. We have access to specilists who can arrange this for you in New Zealand or you can purcahse travel insurance before you leave the UK. Please email me to find out more and to introduced to the most appropriate expert – 

You can also equest a free copy of our Financial and Pension guides for New Zealand.