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What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?

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Cover for Accidental injury costs in New Zealand.

Accidents happen and sometimes you get the added bonus of an injury. Luckily, some of the costs associated with an injury, like treatment and compensation for lost earnings, are covered by Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in New Zealand.

ACC is injury cover for both residents and temporary visitors in New Zealand. It is a no-fault cover, meaning they will help out with the costs of an injury no matter how you obtained it or whose fault it was.

So if you break your leg while galavanting through the New Zealand wilderness or get hit in the face by a rogue rugby ball thrown at you by a buff Maori, don’t be afraid to go to the medical centre or hospital as accident costs could be subsidised.

Who is eligible for ACC cover?

Essentially everyone! Both New Zealand residents and visitors can apply for help from the ACC when they are injured in New Zealand. Whether you’re working, a student or just travelling around; whether you caused the accident or someone else did; whether the accident happened when working or taking part in recreational activities; and whether it happened in your house or on the road, you are eligible to claim for ACC cover.

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How to get help from the ACC

First things first, when you have had an accident and are injured, visit a health professional like a doctor at a medical centre or the accident and emergency department at a hospital. A health professional will treat your injury and help you fill out an ACC claim form. They will also send off the form to ACC for you.

You will need to pay at least part of the cost of this first visit to a health professional, then they can claim the rest of the cost back if your claim is accepted. Remember to keep the receipt so that you are able to claim some of the money back once the claim has been accepted.

If you need to take time off work as a result of your injury, discuss this with your health professional and they will produce a medical certificate for you to confirm that you need time off work.

Once the claim form has been processed, ACC will contact you via phone or letter to tell you the results of the form.

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How the ACC can help

The ACC oversees and coordinates a bunch of services to help you get back to work and/or your old self. The sort of help the ACC can provide when you are injured in New Zealand are:

  • Treatment costs
  • Prescription medication costs
  • Compensation for lost earnings
  • Help to get back to work
  • Transport to and from treatment
  • Recovery aids and equipment
  • Help around the home
  • Childcare

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Employee Accident Cover

If you are too injured to work, then you could get weekly compensation for your loss of earnings. This is how it usually works:

  • ACC will pay 80% of your weekly earnings.
  • ACC does not pay you for your first week off work. If your injury occurred at work then your employer will pay you for the first week you are off work.
  • After this first week, the ACC takes over and gives you payments for four weeks which are calculated from the earnings you made four weeks before you were injured.
  • After that, payments are based on earnings made 52 weeks prior to your injury.

Paying for other healthcare services in New Zealand

ACC only covers accidental injury in New Zealand. If you need healthcare for other reasons, such as illness, you will have to pay for healthcare services. You only qualify for subsidised care if you are a New Zealand citizen, resident or hold a work visa valid for two years or more. That’s why the longest working holiday visa is only 23 months for UK and Canadian citizens.

So, for backpackers and working holidaymakers, the way to cover yourself of expensive healthcare costs is with travel and medical insurance. There are all types of plans to cover yourself and a whole sea of insurance companies out there offering different things. But when it comes to using them, you will usually have to pay the initial healthcare fees then claim the expenses back from your insurance company.

OrbitProtect, a New Zealand-based insurer, has cheap comprehensive cover which meets the conditions mandatory of your working holiday visa. Check out their information on being covered for healthcare in New Zealand with their plans: Working Holiday NZ and Experience NZ.

For paying to get a prescription, see How to Get a Medical Prescription in New Zealand.

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