For some people off work with an injury, the stress of getting better or surgery is the biggest concern. For others, especially those who work as contractors or as casuals, knowing when (or if) the bills will be paid can be worse.
Many injured clients assume they can’t claim other benefits if they’re already being paid one type of compensation. This is generally not true – you could be eligible for more than you think.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4.2 per cent of the working population had a work-related injury or illness at some time during the year in 2017/18. Sixty per cent of those had time off, but almost half received no financial assistance. Of that half, about 13 per cent said the main reason for not applying was that they weren’t covered or weren’t aware of workers’ compensation and a further nine per cent said they didn’t think they were eligible.
This shows that more and more people aren’t getting compensated for injuries that stop them from working. Moreover, they might be missing out on crucial insurance available to them via their superannuation funds.
What coverage do I have if I am injured and can’t work?
There are many options for financial relief if you’ve been injured, such as:
- Workers’ compensation
- TPD insurance
- Income protection insurance
- Trauma insurance
- CTP insurance, if injured in a motor vehicle accident
- Public Liability insurance, if injured almost anywhere else not at work and at the fault of someone else
You may not hold all of these, but all workers in Queensland must be covered by some form of workers’ compensation insurance (normally WorkCover), and most employees will also have TPD and/or income protection insurance in their superannuation. Generally, someone who is injured and unable to work can make a claim for all at the same time.
However, some policies may stop paying or reduce your amount if you’re receiving another form of compensation. So if you’re already being paid part of your wages by WorkCover, your income protection payments may be reduced.
What’s the difference between workers compensation, TPD Insurance and income protection?
All three are insurance policies designed to provide you with an income (or compensation) should an injury or illness force you to stop working or reduce your hours. The differences between them include what else they cover, how the payments are provided, for how long, and to what extent.
What this means: It’s designed to cover employees injured at work or because of work. You must show that work is a significant contributor to the injury, which can be physical or psychological.
What it covers: Payments can cover lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation, household and personal assistance, and also death.
How much: Up to 85% of your standard wages plus your medical and rehabilitation expenses.
How it’s paid: Generally, in weekly instalments.
How long: This depends on the severity of your injury and the type of claim. Payments generally stop once you’re able to return to work full-time, or once the injury has settled and you’ve been assessed for permanent impairment. Payments will also stop after five years if you’ve been unable to return to work, unless you’ve been assessed as being unable to work indefinitely. Payments may also stop when you reach the maximum total weekly compensation limit or you hit retirement age.
Total and Permanent Disability Insurance
The basics: Otherwise known as TPD, it's usually held through your superannuation provider that covers you for permanent injuries or illnesses that prevent you from working or require a substantial reduction in your hours.
What this means: Like WorkCover, it covers you if you can’t work. But unlike WorkCover, you can claim it for any injury or illness – they don’t have to be work related. For example, if you develop cancer or motor-neurone disease.
What it covers: Your payout will include coverage for medical costs, lost wages, rehabilitation expenses and any care required.
How much: This depends on your individual policy and insured amount.
How it’s paid: As a lump sum into your nominated bank account.
How long: You need to show your superannuation provider that you meet the definition set out in your policy but there is no specific time frame, and your lump sum payment is most often a once-off. We go into more detail about understanding TPD claims here.
The basics: It's also usually held through your superannuation provider (although you can purchase it separately through another insurer) and is designed to cover your wages if you are temporarily unable to work for any medical reason.
What this means: Similar to TPD insurance, it pays for any injury or illness that means you can’t work, no matter why, what or how the injury occurred. The difference is that income protection is designed for temporary injuries or illnesses, like a broken leg.
What it covers: Generally, your policy will cover your normal weekly wages.
How much: This depends on your individual policy but most pay up to 75% of your pre-tax income.
How it’s paid: Again, this depends on your policy but usually as weekly, fortnightly or monthly sum into your nominated bank account.
How long: Whilst waiting periods apply, you can claim income protection until you’re able to go back to work, or up to five years.
What else do I need to know?
Many choose to have income protection or TPD insurance in case the worst happens. And although we at Smith’s Lawyers can only help with claiming TPD benefits, we hope this comparison helps you cover all bases.