Nib looks to global health care market

Health insurer nib is planning to expand into the global health cover market by targeting thousands of Australians who travel overseas for work each year.

Offering international health care is a largely untapped market in Australia and nib was drawn to the potential demand and lack of government pricing regulation, managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said.

Another driver was the need to diversify outside an increasingly competitive domestic health insurance market.

The product, which is likely to be offered this financial year, will target the estimated 100,000 Australians who travel overseas each year for long-term work arrangements.

It builds on the company's existing inbound international workers' business (IWB), which contributed 10.6 per cent of nib's net underwriting profit in 2011/12 and is expected to continue growing along with demand for international workers in Australia.

"Globalisation is having a big influence on insurance lines and we think, inevitably, health insurance will go the same way," Mr Fitzgibbon told AAP on Monday after nib reported a three per cent increase in net profit.

Nib made a net profit of $67.6 million in the year to June 30, up from $65.5 million in the previous year.

The company's preferred measure of performance, its underwriting profit, was up 1.6 per cent to $70.7 million.

Nib expected to make an underwriting profit in the range of $70 million to $75 million in the 2012/13 financial year, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Net policyholder growth was 4.7 per cent for the year, topping industry growth of 3.7 per cent.

Mr Fitzgibbon said nib did not expect the means testing of the private health insurance rebate to have a significant impact, although the full effect would not be known for months.

The company will continue to concentrate on the under-40s market but is also focused on growing the over 55s and corporate segments.

"We're very deliberately positioning ourselves as the preferred supplier for the resources sector," Mr Fitzgibbon told investors.

Nib declared a fully franked final dividend of five cents per share.

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