Everyone in New Zealand has 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, no-fault comprehensive injury cover through ACC. Find out what is and isn’t covered, and what happens if you’re injured while travelling overseas or visiting New Zealand.
Everyone in New Zealand is eligible for comprehensive injury cover:
- no matter what you’re doing or where you are when you’re injured, eg driving, playing sport, at home, at work
- no matter how the injury happened, even if you did something yourself to contribute to it
- no matter what age you are or whether you’re working – you might be retired, a child, on a benefit or studying.
Wounds, lacerations, sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations and work-related injuries such as hearing loss, may all be covered. Most physical injuries are covered if they’re caused by:
- an accident
- a condition that comes on gradually because of your work (gradual process)
- medical treatment
- sexual assault or abuse.
There is a specific definition of ‘injury’ in the Accident Compensation (AC) Act 2001, which is the law that we have to apply when considering applications for claims and assistance.
We have to be satisfied that you have suffered a personal injury, which can mean:
- physical injury
- mental injury suffered because of physical injury
- mental injury caused by certain criminal acts (Listed under Schedule 3 of the Accident Compensation Act 2001 )
- work related mental injury where a person suffers a clinically significant mental injury caused by a traumatic work related event
- damage (other than wear or tear) to dentures or prostheses that replace part of the human body
- death due to a physical injury.
Physical injuries can include:
- wounds, lacerations, contusions (bruising)
- sprains and strains
- fractures, amputations or dislocations
- damage to dentures or prostheses (artificial body parts)
- work-related gradual process injuries, such as tendonitis, and deafness caused by noise at work
- infections or diseases caused at work by performing a particular task or being exposed to a particular environment (this excludes any conditions you may have had since birth)
- loss of consciousness
- a foreign body in the eye.
We consider an injury to be a physical injury if there is actual damage to the body. The presence of pain is not sufficient to establish if there is a physical injury, we need a diagnosis of the injury.
When you visit your doctor, dentist, physiotherapist or other treatment provider, they’ll tell you if you’re covered by ACC for the injury. If there are any doubts, contact us.
Because no two injuries are the same, the type of assistance we are able to offer varies depending on individual circumstances. It is important to talk to us to confirm if you are eligible for particular services.
If you have had an implant fitted, such as a hip replacement, and are concerned about a physical injury as a consequence of that device, talk to your GP or surgeon in the first instance.
The failure of an implant, which replaces a body part, could be covered by us as a treatment injury if that failure has caused a physical injury. We’ll accept these claims if they meet our criteria for cover.
If we accept the treatment injury claim, your surgical specialist could submit a request for ACC funding of surgery, if necessary, to get the implant taken out and replaced.
Your GP or surgeon will handle your ACC claim on your behalf.
We don’t cover:
- stress, hurt feelings, loss of enjoyment or other emotional issues (these may be covered if these are the direct result of a physical injury or sexual abuse)
- conditions related mainly to ageing
- non-traumatic hernias, eg from coughing or sneezing, or not directly as a result of trauma
- injuries that come on gradually and are not due to a work task (non-occupational gradual process injuries)
- damage to items that don’t replace body parts such as hearing aids, glasses, pacemakers and gastric bands.
We provide financial assistance when someone dies as a result of an accident, a work-related disease or infection, or medical treatment. We may also be able to help following a self-inflicted injury, however this will depend on the circumstances of the injury or death.
If a member of your family is fatally injured, and we receive confirmation that the cause of death is a physical injury, we’ll work with you and/or your advisors and friends to work out what assistance is available.
Various payments are available, depending on your circumstances, to contribute to things, such as funeral costs and survivors’ grants. Dependent partners and children may be eligible for weekly compensation and/or childcare costs. ACC support applies regardless of life, funeral or other insurance policies that may also provide protection in the event of the death of a family member. For more information about accidental death claims, go to Injury causing death.
If you need information about us in your own language we have interpreters for over 30 different languages, and Pacific and Asian advisors who can provide cultural support and help. Go to In your language for more information, or contact us.
If you’re injured during your visit to New Zealand, we may be able to help with the cost of treatment and support you need while you’re here. However, it is important to be aware that you cannot sue for damages arising from your personal injury – ACC cover removes that right.
We only cover treatment and rehabilitation costs while you are in New Zealand; it is not a replacement for travel insurance and doesn’t cover illness, disrupted travel plans or emergency travel to get you back home. We strongly recommend you arrange travel insurance before visiting New Zealand.
Do I qualify?
ACC support may be available to you as a visitor if you are:
- injured in an accident within New Zealand
- in certain circumstances suffering from a health problem related to working in New Zealand
- injured as a result of medical treatment while you are in New Zealand
- dealing with the mental effects of a sexual assault or abuse suffered in New Zealand.
The injury must have happened in New Zealand. You are considered outside New Zealand, and so not covered:
- if you are injured while aboard the boat or plane on which you travelled to New Zealand, or in getting on or off that boat or plane
- if you are injured while travelling around the country in the craft you arrived in, such as a yacht or cruise ship. You are not covered whenever you are on board or on the gangway
- if you take an excursion during your visit that takes you 300 nautical miles or more from New Zealand.
If you’re injured while overseas and return home, we may be able to help with treatment in New Zealand, but only if you intended to be overseas for less than six months. We areunable to cover expenses incurred overseas.
Cover for injuries that happen outside New Zealand
When you return home, you can lodge a claim with us by visiting your general practitioner (GP). Entitlements are no different to what you’d receive if the accident happened in New Zealand.
What to do if you’re injured outside New Zealand
We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance, especially if you’re planning on being away longer than six months.
Travel insurance covers the immediate cost and inconvenience related to an overseas accident or illness – we are unable to pay these costs.
Safetravel have great tips about preparing for your trip and how to stay safe while overseas.
Safetravel (external link)
Reviewed: 4 November 2016