Injured person in wheelchair recovering

Health insurance vs accident insurance

Should I consider personal accident insurance if I already have health insurance?

Personal accident coverage is an important insurance policy to consider because it can provide cover in the event of a serious injury or accident. It does this by offering monthly payments or a lump sum that can be used to:

  • Cover an income gap if your WorkCover benefit runs out before you have recovered enough to return to work.
  • Fulfill your financial obligations and maintain you and your families standard of living.
  • Pay for additional therapy and rehabilitation services to assist you in your recovery.

What are the costs of a serious accident?

In the event of injury or illness, costs can add up very quickly. There will be immediate costs associated with getting health care and medium to long term costs with rehabilitation and loss of income.

  • Immediate costs. This may include hospital care, which can cost at the minimum a few thousand dollars. On average, a coronary bypass surgery costs $45,000 while knee or hip replacements can cost around $25,000. On top of this there are ambulance and specialist doctor fees.
  • On-going medical expenses. After the immediate cost there may be the need for expensive rehab or outpatient care over the medium term.
  • Lost income. Furthermore, the loss of income because of injury can make paying monthly bills impossible without savings or sick leave.

What does health insurance provide you in the event of an accident?

Health insurance covers a range of costs associated with accident and illness. Health insurance will often cover hospital costs and may have added benefits of cutting down on hospital waiting lists, getting priority for private rooms and choice of specialists. Additionally, health insurance can cover ambulance fees and can be tailored to cover a wide range of illness and accidents.

Covered by health insuranceNot covered by health insurance
  • A range of illnesses and accidents as well as hospital care.
  • Loss of income due to illness or accident.
  • Rehabilitation services are included in higher tier policies.
  • Rehabilitation procedures if you only have a basic hospital policy.

Health insurance can become expensive if you tailor your plan to include more coverage options.

What expenses does personal accident insurance cover?

On the other hand, personal accident insurance provides financial security for the loss of earnings you may incur following treatment due to being unable to work while you recover. The benefits include:

  • Lump sum payment or installments. If the personal accident cover is an income protection policy you’ll be paid out in installments. Alternatively, you’ll receive a single payout.
  • Payment can be used for all treatments. You can use the cover for a range of treatments for injuries that may not be covered by your health insurance.
  • Payment can be used to replace income. As you’ll be out of work, you can sustain your income until you find your feet.
  • Payment can also be used however you like. You can use the payment for additional medical expenses like rehab, or even non-medical uses such as taking a holiday.

Personal accident vs health insurance for an accident's ongoing expenses

Insurance typeRehab equipmentLong term nursing careModifications to home and vehiclesOngoing living expenses
Private health insuranceIn some casesIn some casesNoNo
Personal accident insuranceYesYesYesYes

So can I just rely on personal accident cover?

While it may seem possible to rely solely on personal accident coverage, the fact is that health insurance and accident coverage work best when used together.

Example: how health and personal accident insurance can protect you throughout all stages of recovery

In this scenario, you can see how these two types of policies can be combined to cover your expenses from start to finish by:

  • Having health insurance in place to cover the initial costs of immediate treatment.
  • Using personal accident insurance to replace loss of income while recovering or pay for further therapy.

Picture: Shutterstock

Maurice Thach

An insurance researcher and writer for who loves finding an answer to the question "Am I covered for ________?" Maurice has also completed a Tier 1 Life Insurance and a Tier 2 General Insurance Certification under ASIC's Regulatory Guide 146. This means he can confidently provide general advice for life insurance and non-life insurance products.

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