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Even in the face of a painful morning workout, we can all appreciate the benefits of staying active!

Despite the health benefits, anyone who regularly exercises will be susceptible to injury. Many sport-related injuries are relatively minor, but some can pose more significant problems, especially if left untreated.

So, let’s have a look at how health insurance can aid in your recovery for some common sporting injuries.

How does health insurance cover sports injuries?

While you’ll likely be taken to a public hospital in an emergency, private hospital cover can help pay for in-hospital rehabilitation and let you choose your specialist 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.

This type of insurance helps with your medical expenses as a private patient in a hospital, and has two main benefits. Firstly, it enables you to avoid public waiting lists for surgeries and procedures; as such, if you need elective surgery to recover from injury, hospital cover may help you receive medical treatment faster than in the public system. The second benefit is that you can choose your own doctor or specialist. This is advantageous if you have an injury that would benefit from a certain specialist, which you can choose.

Some healthcare services provided outside of a hospital aren’t covered by either Medicare or private hospital cover. If you want a product that will contribute towards the cost of services like physiotherapy, remedial massage, podiatry and dietetics, you should consider extras cover.

If you’re a resident of Queensland and Tasmania, emergency transportation costs are covered by your state government. For everyone else, ambulance cover is an essential purchase. Without it, you could be out of pocket hundreds or thousands of dollars if you require an ambulance, especially if you’re far from the nearest public hospital.

As you can see, taking out health insurance for sports injuries covers you for much more than a rolled ankle. Ambulance cover, at the very least, is critical protection for many Australians. With that said, there are many other ailments and situations where these products come in handy; your annual dental check-ups, for example.

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 for either the initial treatment of these injuries or your rehabilitation efforts?

Let’s address one thing first: health insurance isn’t needed for superficial cuts and scrapes. Go to a GP or a public emergency room, get stitched up and you’re good to go! For more severe injuries, like intracranial injuries in particular, you should be seen by a doctor or go to the emergency room as soon 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, you’ll either have to wait for your surgery 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!

Team run on the beach safely with health insurance for sports injuries

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 covered.
  • Sports insurance is a type of 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.

Tips on health insurance for sport injuries from our health insurance expert, Lana Hambilton

  1. When you take out private health insurance or increase your level of coverage, there is a good chance that you will need to wait before you can start claiming. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure you have an appropriate level of cover prior to playing sport, just in case you sustain an unexpected injury.
  2. 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 quite significantly, so it’s a good idea to shop around if you are thinking of claiming on these services.
  3. Shop around and do your research. Prices vary from fund to fund and there are plenty of options to choose form. If you need assistance, speak to an expert, they are there to help!

Why take out health insurance for sports injuries?

Regardless of your cover, it’s important to work with your doctor and allied health care professionals when recovering to ensure you don’t make your injury any worse.

Sports injuries can slow us down, and it can be hard leaving enough time to fully recover before we want to get back out there and stay active.

As such, consider your options to find insurance coverage that matches your needs.

At the very least, compare health insurance policies and get an insurance quote through our free online comparison tool; you might be surprised at how affordable it can be!


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

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