Health insurance for sports injuries

How to ensure you’re covered for sport related injuries

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A guide to health insurance for sports injuries

Updated 19 March, 2024
Written by Joshua Malin
Reviewed by Steven Spicer

Expert tips on choosing health insurance for sports injuries

Our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer, has some tips on how to find a policy that offers the peace of mind you need when playing your sport of choice.

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

Take your waiting periods into account

When you take out private health insurance or increase your level of coverage, there is a good chance that you’ll need to wait before you can start claiming. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure you have an appropriate level of cover in place and have served all relevant waiting periods in case you sustain an a injury while playing sport.

Extras limits can vary greatly

Extras insurance can cover many therapies such as physiotherapy and remedial massage, which may be beneficial when recovering from a sports injury. The limits and rebates on therapies can vary significantly, so it’s a good idea to shop around if you’re thinking of claiming on these services.

Compare your options

Shop around and do your research. Prices vary from fund to fund and there are plenty of options to choose from. If you need assistance, speak to one of our experts, they are there to help!

How does health insurance cover sports injuries?

While you’ll likely be taken to a public hospital in an emergency, private hospital insurance can help pay for inpatient hospital treatment. This can be beneficial if you require elective surgery following an injury. By holding an appropriate level of private hospital insurance, you will be able to choose your specialist and avoid the public waiting list if you decide to be treated in a private hospital. Also, extras cover helps pay for out-of-hospital services like physiotherapy and remedial massages, which can help your recovery.

In short, both types of insurance can be valuable to your recovery from serious injury. Let’s look at each type of cover in a bit more detail.

Hospital cover

Extras cover

Ambulance cover

Which common sports injuries are covered by private health insurance?

According to the latest AIHW’s Sports injury hospitalisations in Australia report, these types of injuries resulted in the most sport-related hospitalisations in 2019-20:1

  • Bone Fracture (51.1% of all hospitalised injuries)
  • Soft tissue injury (18%)
  • Open wound (7.2%)
  • Intracranial injury (5.5%).

So, how well would health insurance cover the costs associated with either the initial treatment of these injuries or any inpatient procedures that follow?

Let’s address one thing first: health insurance isn’t needed for superficial cuts and scrapes. For more severe injuries, like intracranial injuries in particular, you should be seen by a doctor or go to the emergency room as quickly as possible.

However, if you suffer from any other injury that requires you to be admitted to hospital, you might want to consider how private health insurance could help.

Say you roll your ankle badly and sprain your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). After your initial treatment, you may require follow-up surgery, but because it isn’t medically urgent, it’s considered ‘elective’. You might have to wait a month or more for surgery through the public system; yet in the private system, it may only be a few days.

Without private health insurance for sports injuries, you’ll either have to wait for your surgery on the public waiting list or pay out-of-pocket to be treated privately. With the right private health insurance plan, though, you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll be treated quickly if something happens, without breaking the bank! While you may be required to pay an excess and/or co-payment as well as any out-of-pocket costs, this will be significantly less than paying the full cost yourself.

What other types of insurance can cover sports players?

Alongside private health insurance, there are other insurance products that you might want to consider if you regularly participate in sporting activities.

  • Income protection is designed to replace part of your income for a period of time if you’re unable to work due to an accidental injury, among other reasons. However, not all policies will cover sports injuries, and some will have exclusions for more extreme sports such as martial arts or bungee jumping, so it’s important to check with your insurance company to understand what’s included.
  • Sports insurance is a type of general insurance taken out by sporting organisations that can cover their players and officials in case of injury, the organisation’s public liability and even the costs for cancelled events and prize indemnity. For both amateur and professional sport players, it’s important to understand what is covered by your organisation’s sports cover policy.

Meet our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

As the Executive General Manager of Health, Life and Energy, Steven Spicer is a strong believer in the benefits of private cover and knows just how valuable the peace of mind that comes with cover can be. He is passionate about demystifying the health insurance industry and advocates for the benefits of comparison when it comes to saving money on your premiums.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Sports injury hospitalisations in Australia. Published March 2022.