Needlestick Insurance for Medical & Healthcare Practitioners

Do I need a needlestick insurance cover & how does it differ from Workcover?

  • In some occupations, simply testing HIV positive is not a disabling condition in itself. For example, an office worker who is free of symptoms could continue to work and earn their usual level of income.
  • However, if as a medical/healthcare practitioner you test positive to either HIV or Hepatitis and you’re symptom-free, it could still result in significant loss of income due to your:
    • Professional association or health authority preventing you from carrying out some or all of your usual duties, or
    • Requirement of disclosure of your status to patients which results in loss of custom.
  • The benefits paid under Workcover are generally limited and the additional insurance cover will help replace your lost income.
  • If you have a Needlestick insurance policy, a lump sum is paid to you (generally tax free) if you become infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or C as a result of an accident occurring during the course of your normal occupation.

Issues to consider when comparing needlestick insurance policies:

  • Whether the Needle-stick injury option is offered – some policies do not provide any extra payment for needlestick injury whereas other policies do e.g. you could have a smaller benefit for general cover and a larger benefit solely for needle-stick injuries.
  • The minimum and maximum amount of cover you can apply for can be different among policies.
  • Does it pay benefits as a result of any kind of sharps accident including ‘needle-stick’, ‘splash back’ and ‘inhalation’ (e.g. during surgery).
  • Policy definition:
    • Duties based versus income-based:  You could perform all of your duties but not at full capacity resulting in a loss of income. Some policies will not pay out as you are still performing your duties. You must check the policy wording carefully.
    • Hours-based: It will allow you to return to work for up to 10 hours per week without affecting your claim. This is particularly useful if you are self-employed or running your own practice.
    • Symptoms: Whether the policy will pay a benefit even though you are symptom free.
    • Offsets – some polices will reduce your benefit payment by the amount of sick leave you have or any Workcover entitlement.
  • Structure of the policy:
    • Who is to be the owner of the policy – this is important if you run your own practice or part of a partnership or company director.
    • Stepped premiums – are cheaper in the beginning of the policy and while you are young.  The premiums can increase significantly with age and can be quite expensive over the age of 50.
    • Level premiums  – are more expensive in the beginning (compared to stepped premiums for the same age) but generally only increase with the CPI and hence are cheaper over the long-term if you keep your policy to age 65 or longer.

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Sofie Korac is an Authorised Representative (No. 400164) of Prudentia Financial Planning Pty Ltd, AFSL 544118 and a member of the Association of Financial Advisers.

Financial Advice Sydney and the North Shore Office based in Gordon NSW

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