The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides compulsory insurance cover for personal injury for everyone in New Zealand, whether a citizen, resident or visitor.This means if you are injured by an accident in New Zealand, ACC may pay some of your medical and rehabilitation costs. ACC is a no-fault scheme – the only one of its kind in the world. It applies regardless of who caused the accident – including you. But it also means you can’t sue for any costs that relate to the injury or its negative eﬀects.
ACC covers injury from sprains to permanent disability, but not general illness, diseases, infections or age-related health conditions, non-work related gradual process injuries or mental injury (except in very speciﬁc situations). Depending on your injury ACC may pay a proportion of medical costs, provide assistance with home help, special aids or equipment, transport, modiﬁcations to your house or car, education, training, therapy and support.
Applying for ACC support
Applying for ACC is simple. The medical specialist who treats you will say if your injury is likely to be covered, and will ask you to complete a form so they can lodge a claim after your ﬁrst visit. ACC will look at the claim and let you know if it is accepted. If your claim is declined, you will be told why. If you disagree with the decision, you can ask for a review.
Payment of claims
You will usually pay something towards your treatment and ACC pays the diﬀerence. The amount you pay depends on the treatment and provider. If the provider asks you to pay in full, keep your receipts – you may be able to claim some of the cost if your claim is accepted. If possible, make sure your ACC claim has been approved before you undertake any expensive treatment. ACC will not guarantee payment for treatments they have not approved. Ask your treatment provider for a cost estimate, for the ACC claim request form.
Approved treatment providers
You should use an ACC-approved treatment provider. Most treatment providers are ACC approved but check when you book your appointment or ask your doctor.
ACC can also help cover costs if you need emergency services or prescription medicine for your injury treatment.
Lost earnings from time off work
Your doctor will say if you need time oﬀ work for recovery, and if so how much. If it’s more than one week, you may qualify for compensation of up to 80% of your average income. With this, you will also usually be assigned a case manager to develop a rehabilitation plan to help you return to work. If you are only able to return part-time, you may still be eligible for some weekly compensation. (Only doctors and physiotherapists can issue a medical certiﬁcate for time oﬀ work – and your employer may request a medical certiﬁcate even for the ﬁrst week.)
ACC has interpreters for 30 diﬀerent languages, and Asian, Paciﬁc and Maori advisors who can provide additional cultural support and help.
ACC does not pay for medical costs overseas, but may pay for related treatment or rehabilitation treatment in NZ. If you are injured while overseas ask the provider for a full medical report with details of your injury and treatment. If you still need help when you return, take the report to your GP (doctor) and ﬁll out an ACC claim form as soon as possible. Visitors who have an accident while in New Zealand are eligible for help with treatment and rehabilitation costs while in New Zealand. However, medical insurance is recommended because ACC does not cover disrupted travel plans and other associated costs.
For more information about ACC, see www.acc.co.nz