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Needlestick injury income protection insurance

For medical professionals, needlestick cover should be a serious consideration when taking out income protection insurance.

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 needlestick 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.

How common are needlestick injuries?

The Medical Technology Association of Australia says there are about 30 needlestick injuries per 100 beds each year. It says about 18,000 medical professionals suffer a NSI each year. That makes them "one of the most common causes of physical, pathological and psychological hazards for many healthcare workers".

Unfortunately, needlestick injuries can cause lifelong issues. This is because needlestick injuries can expose doctors to bloodborne pathogens including HIV and hepatitis. Fortunatly, income protection policies often have specific benefits that cover needlesticks.

Finder survey: What prompted Australians to take out TPD insurance?

ResponseMaleFemale
None of the above3.34%1.93%
Having a baby2.6%1.41%
Buying a home1.67%1.41%
Getting older (but not retiring)1.67%0.88%
Starting a new job1.11%1.58%
Getting married1.11%0.88%
Starting my own business0.56%0.53%
Buying a car0.19%
Moving home0.19%0.18%
Retirement0.19%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

Which insurers offer policies with needlestick cover?

Here are some insurers on finder.com.au that offer income protection policies with needle-stick benefits.

Adviser brandsMaximum Benefit AmountApply
TAL Life Insurance Logo$1,000,000Go to Site
AIA Life Insurance Logo$1,000,000

More info

Asteron Life Insurance Logo$1,000,000

More info

BT Life Insurance Logo
(includes
St. George and Westpac)
$1,000,000

More info

Clearview Income Protection Logo$1,000,000

More info

OnePath Life Insurance Logo$1,000,000

More info

Zurich Income Protection logo$1,000,000

More info

Data taken from brand product disclosure statements on January 2022. Benefits, conditions and amounts are subject to change at anytime.

What illnesses are covered by needlestick 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.

  1. Your lump sum is agreed to at the time you start your policy.
  2. Payment can be up to 50 times your monthly benefit, up to a million dollars.

Three ways that a needlestick 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.

How to make a claim for a needlestick injury?

Insurers offering needle-stick cover require you to meet the following criteria and provide the requested documents.

  1. Provide proof of an infection. This can include an accident report, names of witnesses and a medical report.
  2. Show the infection is covered by your policy. That is, proof the infection was caused by a source covered in your policy guidelines.
  3. 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

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