What is ACC for?
ACC is New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme. It provides no-fault personal injury insurance cover to all New Zealand residents, and visitors to New Zealand.
It’s important to be aware that, because ACC covers all personal injury claims in New Zealand, you can’t sue anyone for your personal injury. This rule applies to overseas visitors as well.
The ACC definition of personal injury includes physical injury, mental injury (resulting from physical injury or certain crimes such as sexual assault), some forms of damage to prostheses, and death due to a physical injury. It can also include injury which happens gradually as a result of your work.
Compensation from the ACC scheme can be in the form of payments and / or help with the cost of treatment and rehabilitation.
You are not covered by ACC if you suffer from an illness, or if your injury is a result of a degenerative condition, or an age-related condition or illness.
There are also restrictions on what you can be entitled to if the injury was deliberately self-inflicted or if it occurred while you were committing a criminal offence.
For more information about whether ACC covers your particular injury, see the ACC website.
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How do I make a claim under ACC?
If you get injured, your first step is to get treatment for the injury. The health professional providing your treatment should help you fill in the appropriate form to register your ACC claim. If this doesn’t happen, ask your treatment provider about filling out an ACC45 form.
On the ACC website you will find a list of treatment providers that can register ACC claims.
You'll need to lodge your application within 12 months of your injury (late claims are allowed only in some cases).
ACC can generally get back to you with their decision within 21 days. They’ll tell you whether your claim has been accepted, and what kinds of assistance you are entitled to.
More information about how to make an ACC claim is on the ACC website.
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How can I get help from ACC following a sexual assault?
Anyone who has suffered sexual abuse or assault in New Zealand can get help from ACC. You don’t need to have reported it to the Police in order to get this help, and you don’t need to have suffered a physical injury. There is no time limit for seeking help from ACC following the incident, even if it happened years ago.
If you are thinking about making a claim, you can start by choosing an ACC-approved therapist (e.g. counsellor, social worker, psychologist) to meet with for free, for one or two sessions (up to two hours in total, funded by ACC). During this time your therapist will talk to you about whether you wish to make a claim with ACC – if you decide to go ahead, they will help you to complete a claim form.
While the claim is being processed you can proceed with additional free sessions, depending on what you and your therapist think is needed.
ACC will decide whether to approve your claim and, if it is approved, what kind of help you can get. This can include other types of assistance besides therapy.
It’s important to note that if ACC rejects your claim, you won’t have to reimburse ACC for any sessions you have had with your therapist in the meantime.
You will find more information about ACC support for people who have been injured as a result of sexual assault or abuse, on the FindSupport website.
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Can I get ACC cover if I get sick?
ACC generally doesn’t cover common illnesses, but you could be covered if the illness is caused by your working conditions, or by exposure to a poisonous substance.
You can read more about when illness counts as a personal injury, in the Community Law Manual.
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Am I covered if I am injured as a result of medical treatment?
You may be eligible for assistance from ACC if you are injured as a result of medical treatment, whether it has happened during diagnosis, as a result of the treatment you received or from lack of treatment.
In general you are only covered if the treatment was provided by a registered medical professional (e.g. dentist, doctor, nurse). However it’s worth claiming even if your treatment was from an unregistered provider as ACC may still consider your claim.
You can have your ACC claim lodged by the health professional you believe caused the injury or, if that is not possible, another health professional.
Read our answer to How do I make a claim? for more information about this.
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Can I get help from ACC if a family member dies from an injury?
When someone dies as a result of an accident, a work-related disease or infection, or medical treatment, ACC assistance may be available to the deceased’s family, even if the deceased person had other insurance policies.
Families of New Zealand residents who are fatally injured while travelling overseas, and families of overseas visitors fatally injured in New Zealand, may also be covered by ACC.
If you are a dependent of someone who has died as a result of an injury you could be entitled to weekly compensation payments.
- the deceased’s partner (including a former partner who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death);
- the deceased’s children (including children cared for by the deceased but who aren’t the deceased’s natural or adopted children);
- a person who was financially dependent on the deceased due to a mental or physical disability).
Other assistance ACC can provide:
- a funeral grant
- a survivor’s grant - a one-off non-taxable payment to the partner, children and other dependents of the deceased person.
- weekly childcare payments to the caregiver of the deceased’s children
More about this is on the ACC website.
To find out how to make a claim for help following a death caused by injury visit the ACC website.
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I feel that ACC is not treating me fairly. What are my rights?
The Code of Claimants Rights outlines what your rights are when you are dealing with ACC (but does not cover issues relating to entitlement).
As an ACC claimant you have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. You have the right to have a support person with you (e.g. if you need to meet with ACC over a complaint) and to be fully informed about what is happening with your claim.
If you feel your rights under the Code have been breached, you have several avenues for complaint:
ACC staff members
You can complain to the person who is dealing with your claim or, speak to their team leader or branch manager.
ACC Customer Support Services
If you aren’t comfortable with speaking to the ACC staff member, their team leader or their branch manager, you can make a complaint to ACC’s Customer Support Services. You can do this by calling 0800 650 222, by emailing email@example.com or by sending in a completed complaint form.
Other agencies which may be able to deal with a complaint about ACC include:
For more about making a complaint about ACC visit their website.
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How do I challenge an ACC decision regarding my claim?
If you are unhappy with ACC’s decision about your claim, you can ask for a review of the decision. If you choose to apply for a review you’ll need to do this within three months of the date of the decision. There are three stages to an ACC review:
- Administrative review – where ACC does an internal review of its decision.
- Mediation – ACC may suggest mediation. This only goes ahead if both parties are willing to take part.
- External review – if ACC’s decision is unchanged and mediation has been unsuccessful in getting both parties to agree, you can choose to proceed with a formal review hearing. This is carried out by FairWay Resolution (an independent Crown company). This can be done in person or by teleconference. You’ll need to apply within three months of the decision date on your claim or invoice.
ACC pays for the costs of the external review but if you bring a lawyer you’ll need to pay your lawyer’s fees.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the external review, you can appeal to the District Court. You would generally need to do so within 28 days of receiving the ACC review decision.
More information about ACC reviews is on the ACC website.
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Who can support me in my dealings with ACC?
Whether you are about to make a complaint to ACC, or just want some support and advice after you have made an ACC claim, you can ask for help from an ACC advocate.
An ACC advocate is someone independent of ACC (e.g. from a community law centre or health support group) who is willing to speak to ACC on your behalf and clarify any issues you have during the claims process. There is more information about the role of advocates on the ACC website.
There are specialist ACC advocates available, some of whom charge a fee. Some are listed on the Acclaim Otago website.
Free support and information is available through the Workplace Injury Advocacy Service (call 0800 486 466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org). The service is provided over the phone.
Your local CAB can help you find an ACC advocate.
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Under what circumstances can ACC cancel my entitlement?
ACC can cancel an entitlement if you unreasonably refuse or fail to have medical or surgical treatment.
You can also lose some or all of your entitlement if you won’t agree to or won’t comply with your treatment plan (without good reason) or if you don’t comply with a requirement under the Accident Compensation Act in relation to your claim.
ACC must give you advance notice in writing if it is going to cancel or suspend your entitlement.
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If I have to take time off work due to an injury which is covered by ACC, do I have to take this as sick leave?
If the injury is work-related, your employer must pay you “first week compensation”, and ACC will pay you compensation for any additional weeks which you have to be off work – none of this time should be taken as sick leave.
If the injury is not work-related, your employer is entitled to ask you to use your sick leave entitlement for your first week off work.
See our Sick leave page for more about this.