Needlestick Cover

Needlestick Cover is designed to protect those in the medical profession from needle stick and splash injuries sustained during the course of their normal working duties.

It is generally an additional policy option; however select life insurance companies may offer it as part of their standard cover for medical professionals.

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What is a Needlestick injury?

A Needlestick injury is generally defined as:

when a used needle accidentally punctures the skin, potentially infecting the insured with infected blood

Needlestick cover also includes insurance against ‘splash’ injuries whereby the insured comes in contact with infected blood as well as injuries sustained from the inhalation of blood or bone dust during surgery.

Please note that different life insurance companies may have different definitions of Needlestick injuries and it is important to consult the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for an exact definition.

What illnesses does Needlestick Insurance cover?

Generally includes coverage for the following illnesses:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); and
  • Hepatitis B; and
  • Hepatitis C

How much can I receive a benefit for?

Generally you will receive a lump sum benefit up to a maximum of $1,000,000, depending on what benefit options your life insurance company offers. Select insurers may also offer a monthly benefit option.

Calculation of benefit

At the time of writing, the two most commonly used methods life insurance companies used to determine your lump sum benefit amount were:

1. A lump sum amount is agreed to at the time of your policy application; or
2. Your lump sum benefit will be 50 times your monthly benefit, up to $1 million.

Another method some insurers use is to:

Calculate the reduction in your income at the date your illness was diagnosed; and
Look at the type of income protection policy you have; and
See what your income is

Why might my income reduce should I sustain a Needlestick injury?

Should you sustain a Needlestick injury and be positively diagnosed with one of the above illnesses, you may find your income reduces because:

You may disclose the illness to your patients who then request to see a different medical practitioner.
You may stop working or may elect to stop performing certain surgeries where you may come in contact with blood and or blood products.
Your employer or governing body suspend you from performing certain procedures.

When would I not receive a benefit?

Generally you would not receive a benefit if:

Before you sustained the injury, a cure or approved medical treatment plan is available to treat the illness you have contracted as a result of the injury.
You sustained the infection not through your normal work duties.

How to lodge a claim:

If you need to lodge claim on your income protection policy life insurance companies will generally require you to:

number-1 Provide proof of the accident that led to the infection including an accident report and the names of any witnesses.

number-2Provide proof that the infection was definitely caused by a relevant source.

number-3 Provide proof that a new infection of HIV, Hepatitis A or Hepatitis B occurred 6 months after the accident.

Life insurance companies may also require proof that the new infection demonstrated sero-conversion (the development of detectable specific antibodies to micro-organisms in the blood serum as a result of infection or immunization) from:

  • HIV antibody negative to HIV antibody positive
  • Hepatitis C antibody negative to Hepatitis C antibody positive
  • Hepatitis B surface antigen negative to Hepatitis B surface antigen positive.

Life insurance companies may also require independent assessment of blood samples.

Published: August 20, 2015
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