If you're a medical professional, find out why needle-stick benefits are an essential feature of your policy.
Working as a medical professional can mean taking on risks that are different to those encountered by other occupations. Needle-stick cover is there to protect doctors, nurses, surgeons and paramedics working with a heightened risk of coming into contact with infection and disease.
What is a needle-stick injury?
A needle-stick injury occurs when a used needle accidentally punctures the skin, and potentially infects the insured with dirty blood. Most policies also take into account splash injuries, but this can vary.
Splash injuries occur when medical professionals undertaking a surgery or procedure come into contact with infected blood, or are injured by inhaling blood or bone dust.
Which insurers offer policies with needle-stick cover?
Here are some insurers on finder.com.au that offer income protection policies with needle-stick benefits.
|Adviser brands||Maximum Benefit Amount||Feature (y/n)|
|ClearView||$1,000,000||Yes - Medical Professionals Benefit|
|Comminsure||Comminsure will pay the lesser of:||Yes - Exposure-prone medical procedures|
|Macquarie - now issued by Zurich||$1,000,000||Yes - Medical Professionals feature|
|Zurich Wealth Protection||$2,000,000||Yes|
Data taken from brand product disclosure statements on May 2017. Benefits, conditions and amounts are subject to change at anytime.
Three ways that a needle-stick injury can affect your income
When you sustain a needle-stick injury, you risk losing your income as your capacity to work can diminish while you are on the road to recovery, or you may be unable to ever maintain normal working commitments.
Here’s a list of how such an injury could leave medical workers with an uncertain income going forward.
- You’ll have to disclose your injury to patients. Patients may seek other expert help due to your condition.
- Your workload may decrease You may be forced to, or elect to, change your work capacity surrounding surgery.
- Forced suspension. Your employer may deny you the right to perform certain procedures.
What illnesses are covered by needle-stick cover?
Needle-stick cover policies generally provide compensation for the following life-threatening blood diseases.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis B and C
- Other blood-borne diseases
How much cover can I receive?
Needle-stick cover normally tops out at a $1 million lump sum. Some life insurance companies may also allow a monthly benefit option.
Insurers will normally use the following ways to determine your lump sum benefit.
- Your lump sum is agreed to at the time you start your policy.
- Payment can be up to 50 times your monthly benefit, up to a million dollars.
What if I need to make a claim for a needle-stick injury?
Insurers offering needle-stick cover require you to meet the following criteria and provide the requested documents.
- Provide proof of an infection. This can include an accident report, names of witnesses and a medical report.
- Show the infection is covered by your policy. That is, proof the infection was caused by a source covered in your policy guidelines.
- Evidence of infection occurring after accident. This usually means minimum length of time between accident and infection (Usually 6 months for blood-borne diseases such as HIV).
It’s vital to remember that life insurance companies do differ in terms of their policies. A common curve ball you could face is having a blood test before you are compensated.
Insurers may also request independent blood samples aimed at testing for sero-conversion (detection of specific antibodies to micro-organisms in the blood serum as a result of infection from one of the covered conditions).
How do I ensure I'm covered when I apply?
Before your life insurance is granted, you’ll be asked to reveal personal details about who you are, and your past and present medical conditions. This includes anything that could impact your life needle-stick benefit, like your current employment, and normal activities.
Common details you might be asked to provide:
- Your personal details
- Your occupation
- Nature of your work
- Intentions of living outside Australia
- The amount of cover you are after
- If you have shared needles
- If you have had any previous needle-stick injuries
- If you have ever had any blood-borne diseases or infections
Why is it important to disclose a pre-existing needle-stick injury?
Full disclosure means insurers don’t fall victim to foul play, such as people taking out insurance after already contracting a needle-stick injury. If you don’t disclose all required information to your insurer at the time of devising and agreeing to the terms of your policy, you could see your contract canned, or worse, a claim in the future could be voided.
There are provisions on what you can choose not to reveal. Here’s a short list:
- If your circumstance reduces the risk you’re insured for
- The insurer should already know
- Is already common knowledge
- Your duty if waived if you tell your insurer