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What is personal accident insurance and what does it cover?

Updated 04 September 2020

5min read

Nick Green
Financial Journalist

Personal accident policy

Accidents do happen, and sometimes they can leave you unable to work. Personal accident insurance means that you or your loved ones can still have money to cover your essential expenses in case of accidental injury or even death. Here’s a useful overview of what personal accident insurance is and what it can protect you against.

What is personal accident insurance?

These insurance policies pay out compensation to people who suffer serious injury or death as the result of an accident. They differ from ordinary life insurance in that the incapacity (or death) must be the result of an accident, not illness or old age.

Personal accident cover will protect you and your family from the loss of income that results from you not being able to work. One aspect of being involved in an accident that many people don’t initially consider is the stress caused by financial commitments. Personal accident insurance can therefore aid your physical recovery by easing this stress.

What does personal accident insurance cover?

A wide range of things may be covered by your policy, so make sure you look at a few kinds of accident cover and life insurance policies to make sure they cover the particular risks you may be exposed to. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time doing potentially risky activities, either as part of your work or for recreation (e.g. horse riding, cycling, climbing, contact sports). Make sure that the specific risks you take are covered under your policy.

Most personal accident insurance policies will provide the same broad levels of cover. These can include:

  • An accident or injury that occurs at work
  • Injury caused by someone being violent towards you
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Total or permanent disability as the result of an accident
  • Injuries resulting from falls, slips and spillages
  • The loss of body parts or the loss of the ability to use them fully

There is a distinction here between temporary and permanent injuries, as these require differing levels of ongoing financial support. If you are out of work for a month, you are going to need far less than someone who has suffered a permanent injury such as hearing loss or losing a limb. It is also possible to get cover for any medical expenses you may incur as a result of your accident, such as physiotherapy.

Some policies will be more flexible and could be tailored to include other scenarios, depending on your particular needs and lifestyle.

Do I need personal accident insurance?

There are obviously some people in life that may see more value in taking out this kind of policy, particularly those who work in an industry with a more pronounced risk of accidental death. Even if you are an office worker whose hobbies don’t involve any dangerous activities, you may still consider this kind of insurance if you drive or cycle to work every day.

Personal accident insurance should be a priority for the following kinds of people:

  • Those involved in construction, industrial or any other profession that involves the regular use of heavy and potentially dangerous machinery or substances
  • Those that drive around for large parts of the day such as delivery drivers, particularly bicycle couriers and food delivery workers
  • Self-employed people who may need to cover a period of lost earnings and pay business expenses
  • People whose job involves the potential for violence, such as security and prison staff, bouncers and police

Are there different types of personal accident insurance cover?

There are a number of different kinds of personal accident insurance cover, so making sure you have the right policy is crucial. The main kinds available are:

  • Accidental death insurance – this kind of policy ensures your partner or family are financially supported in the event of your death from a serious accident. This is usually paid out as single lump sum.
     
  • Accidental permanent injury insurance – this policy will provide you with a payment if you suffer a permanent injury, such as the loss of a limb, sight or hearing loss or become disabled.
     
  • Family personal accident plans – you can also extend your cover to include your whole family, which can be good if you have adult children that may need this kind of insurance.

How much does personal accident insurance cost?

There are a range of factors that could determine how much your cover costs. Different providers and different levels of cover will play a part. Your insurer will look at your risk factors and the level of cover you need. Average premiums can range anywhere from under £5 a month to under £20. Considering that for a permanent injury, you may require cover for as much as £100,000 and it begins to become clear why there can be such variances. An IFA will provide you with an accurate quote based on your circumstances.

Where can I get personal accident insurance?

Your IFA will be able to give you a better idea of exactly how much cover you might need, as it will depend on a range of factors. First of all, you need to take into account your essential monthly outgoings and calculate how much cover you would need for one, two, three and six months. Secondly, you need to take any other health conditions into consideration. For example, diabetes is a condition that can in severe cases require a limb to be amputated – this alone is unlikely to be covered, as the root cause is the illness itself. But if your diabetes causes you to have an accident at work as the result of dizziness caused by low blood sugar, and this results in you losing a limb, this is likely to be covered because an accident was a factor.  

Other FAQs about personal accident insurance

Do I need personal accident cover on car insurance?

Personal accident insurance is different from car insurance as it does not pay for accidental damage to your vehicle. Some car insurance providers will include personal accident cover in their policies, but this is not universal. Others will offer it as an ‘extra’ for an additional premium. Personal accident insurance will usually cover you if you sustain a serious injury or die in a road traffic accident.

How do I claim?

To make a claim you need to contact your insurer and provide them with the relevant details and documentation. You will need to submit some kind of evidence as to the severity of your injury in order to access your payment. This will obviously depend on the injury as well as the particular policy.

Can I get this kind of insurance if I’m self-employed?

Yes, you can and it could be a really beneficial investment to make. The cover could help you meet a shortfall in earnings as well as cover other business expenses. In general it is advisable for self-employed people to get as much cover as possible, and you may be able to find a life insurance policy that also contains personal accident cover.

Is personal accident insurance tax deductible?

No. The reason for this is that personal accident insurance does not come under the remit of business expenses like professional indemnity or employer liability. So even though you may consider it an important part of your business expenditure, you won’t be able to deduct it from your taxes.

Does personal accident insurance include sickness?

Most personal accident insurance policies only cover serious injury or accidental death that results from an accident. This means that most will exclude death or injury causes by sickness, disease or any other naturally occurring condition. Some providers will also provide sickness cover as well as personal accident, but this will result in an increased cost to you. You may find that health insurance, life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection all provide a better level of protection when it comes to being unable to work due to sickness.

Is it the same as income protection?

There are a lot of similarities between the two kinds of insurance, but they are not strictly the same. The main difference is that both long-term and short-term income protection policies will cover you in the event that sickness prevents you from working. Personal accident insurance does not tend to include being unable to work due to a serious illness, even if your work was a contributing factor.

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About the author
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.