New Zealand has a universal healthcare system, but just because you are moving to New Zealand does not mean New Zealand’s universal healthcare covers you. You are covered if you meet one of the following.
- -hold a New Zealand residence class visa
- -have a work visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for at least two years
- -are an Australian citizen or have an Australian residence visa and you plan to stay in New Zealand for at minimum 2 consecutive years
If you do not meet the criteria to get New Zealand’s universal healthcare, you still get accident coverage. ACC is personal accident insurance, which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation. Everyone that is in New Zealand is covered by the ACC, regardless of if you are qualified for their universal healthcare. ACC covers injuries that result from any accident, ranging from car accidents to slipping off a curb to severe sunburns to hiking accidents. ACC helps cover the medical, treatment, and rehabilitation fees associated with any accident.
If you are in an accident and want coverage with the ACC, you must be seen within two days of the accident. You can go to an urgent care, emergency department, or primary care provider, and they will fill out an ACC form during your visit. If you wait longer than two days because you think that the injury will get better, you are no longer covered by the ACC.
Things that are not covered by the ACC include illness, pregnancy, high blood pressure, appendicitis, and chronic conditions. You will need private medical insurance to cover these medical conditions. You will hear New Zealanders talk about their supplemental insurance, offered by companies or employers in New Zealand, that they use in conjunction with their universal healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, you are not eligible for this insurance unless New Zealand’s universal healthcare already covers you. The insurance that you will need is travel insurance designed for migrants.
Many companies offer travel insurance geared at tourists for short term trips. This type of insurance is often not the insurance that you are looking for. The two types of travel insurance that usually the best to get when moving to New Zealand are health insurance geared towards expatriates or travel insurance offered by a New Zealand company for visitors of New Zealand.
Southern Cross is New Zealand’s largest provider of private insurance, and they also operate their own medical facilities. They offer “travel insurance” that is specifically designed for people living in New Zealand that do not qualify for New Zealand’s universal healthcare. They have a quote tool that you do not have to provide any contact information to, and it will provide you with various quotes. Many of the plans only cover you in New Zealand and do not over you if you travel back to your home country.
Cigna offers specific insurance for expatriates. They have various levels of plans and different riders that you can add. The two most common riders are evacuation insurance which would cover transportation back to your home country in the event of an accident and coverage in your home country. If you add home country coverage to your plan, you are covered for up to 120 days a year in your country of origin.
I know people that have signed up for both of these plans and are happy with them. Which one is best for you depends on your needs. There are a lot of other companies that offer travel insurance. Unlike regular travel insurance, I strongly recommend purchasing your policy directly through the provider, not a third party. If you need to pay for healthcare out of pocket in New Zealand, the prices are very reasonable and a lot less than the United States.
Our New Zealand insurance guide covers all of the insurance that you might need in New Zealand.