What is ambulance cover?

Ambulance insurance covers certain expenses incurred when being treated by paramedics and transported in ambulances. Emergency transportation and ambulance services are essential for urgent medical care, but are not covered by Medicare.

3.2 million people across Australia were attended by ambulance personnel in 2015/16, according to the Productivity Commission’s report on government emergency services. With a population of roughly 24 million people (according to ABS), that’s a lot of Aussies relying on this crucial service!

Some states do cover these costs, which we have detailed below.

Queenslanders & Tasmanians are not required to take out ambulance cover

Ambulance costs are covered by the Queensland and Tasmanian state government, so you are not required to organise your own cover if you live in either of these locations.

Your coverage in Queensland extends across the entire country too, so that’s one less thing to worry about if you need to call 000 when on holidays. If you do need to claim for treatment in another state or territory, you can do so by forwarding any invoices you receive to the QLD Ambulance Service.

ACT and NSW residents can take out ambulance cover through a health fund

If you’re living in (or close to) our nation’s capital, chances are you’ll need to take out ambulance cover unless you’re a pensioner or low-income earner. These groups are entitled to free ambulance services through the state or territory, and would therefore not need to arrange separate cover.

Anyone not eligible for these free services should instead take out ambulance cover through a registered Australian health fund. Fortunately, emergency ambulance cover is included under policies widely available in NSW & the ACT, so you can enjoy these benefits alongside great insurance policy perks!

For anyone living in NSW, it’s worth noting you’re only billed “51% of the actual (emergency service) charge, as the NSW government subsidises the service for NSW residents” if you don’t have cover, according to Ambulance Service of NSW. When you look at the table below, however, you’ll see that 51% could still end up costing you quite a bit of money if you don’t have cover.

NT, SA, WA and VIC can take out cover through a health fund or a subscription

If you live in the Norther Territories, South Australia, Western Australia, or Victoria, you may organise ambulance cover through an ambulance authority in your state or through a registered health fund. If you take out state ambulance cover, your health fund may reimburse you for all or part of your annual payments. Additionally, Victorians who hold a concession card (e.g. Pensioner Concession Card, Healthcare Card) are entitled to free ambulance cover.

Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card holders can use ambulance services in all states and territories at no cost.

How much does it cost without ambulance cover?

Do you currently not have ambulance cover? Here are some of the potential costs you would pay in the event of an emergency.

  Callout fee Per kilometre charges Current as of…
ACT $936.00 (includes treatment & transport) $12 per km travelled outside the ACT 1/07/2016
NSW $372.00 $3.35 1/07/2017
NT $745.00 $4.80 01/09/2015
SA $955.00 $5.50 1/07/2017
VIC $1,174.00 N/A 1/07/2016
WA $949.00 (life threatening / urgent conditions) N/A Unknown

Types of ambulance cover

Many health insurers include ambulance cover as part of their policies (depending on the state you take out cover in). Alternatively you may take out this cover on its own, although you would then miss out on some of the great benefits of health insurance (e.g. dental cover, private hospital rooms, etc.).

There are two types of ambulance cover available through health funds.

Emergency ambulance

Your costs will be covered if your life is at risk through an emergency including major accidents, sudden onset of illness or pain or severe blood loss. Other conditions may apply, but rest assured that you will be properly taken care of in an emergency situation.

Comprehensive ambulance

Your costs will be covered in all cases for both ground and air – yes, even if you require evacuation by helicopter or plane (which can cost thousands of dollars if you lack appropriate cover).

What should you look out for with ambulance cover?

It is important to know if there are any other limitations on your policy. For example does the cover include all forms of emergency transport, or ground only? Does it cover ‘call out’ fees (when the ambulance treats you at the scene but isn’t required to transport you to hospital)? Be sure to read the policy description carefully to be fully aware of your entitlements.

So, is it worth getting ambulance insurance?

Absolutely! Unless you live in either Queensland or Tasmania, the alternative is a very steep bill following a (likely) traumatic incident, which is not an ideal time to be rearranging your finances. Given the relatively low cost for cover, getting ambulance insurance is a no brainer.

So, what are you waiting for?

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