Personal accident cover

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Life insurance policies generally only pay out following the death of a policyholder, either in a lump sum or a monthly income. But it's not only death that can financially destabilise your family.

An accident that leaves you permanently disabled, forcing you out of work and often requiring medical treatment, and the modification of your home, can be equally financially catastrophic.

In This Guide:

What is personal accident cover?

Personal accident cover protects you and your family in case of loss of earnings brought about by serious injury. You'll receive a payout in the event of a qualifying incident, which you can use to cover day-to-day expenses that you would be responsible for but are unable to make, and to cover any medical expenses.

What counts as an accident?

According to the Financial Ombudsman an accident is defined as "an unforeseen or unexpected and unfortunate occurrence".

It's important to remember that this type of personal insurance won't be activated if you become incapacitated through natural causes, including disease and sickness. You'll need to seek out other cover, such as a critical illness policy, to protect yourself against those scenarios.

What accidents are covered by personal accident cover?

Personal accident insurance kicks in and payouts are delivered if the policyholder is seriously and/or permanently disabled in the following circumstances:

  • a workplace accident or injury
  • criminal violence
  • in a road traffic accident
  • slips or spillages
  • amputations, either immediately following the accident or as a result of the accident, within a certain timeframe (for example, 24 months)

Personal accident insurance typically won't cover injuries, disability, and deaths caused under the following circumstances:

  • self-inflicted injuries-either caused in a suicide attempt or through recklessness
  • injuries caused by drug use or alcohol intoxication, including road traffic accidents caused when driving under the influence of controlled substances
  • injury due to sickness or disease
  • injuries sustained by professional sportspeople when training or playing
  • injuries sustained while participating in criminal activity
  • injuries sustained in war
  • injuries caused by radiation or other nuclear accident


To help you understand what eventualities will merit a payout under personal accident insurance, let's look at two scenarios involving a diabetic policyholder and an amputation. Only one of the following will earn a pay out from a personal accident policy:

  • Scenario 1: A person with diabetes experiences dizziness due to low blood sugar levels while on a ladder and falls, injuring their leg. The leg subsequently needs to be amputated.
  • Scenario 2: A person with diabetes suffers complications that result in the amputation of their leg.

Only in Scenario 1 will a personal accident policy deliver a pay out because only that scenario involved "an unforeseen or unexpected and unfortunate occurrence." The amputation in Scenario 2 can be attributed directly to disease and not to an accident.

Who needs personal accident cover?

People who work in high risk environments , such as on building sites, where workplace accidents are common, often obtain personal accident cover.

Often, life or car insurance policies will include personal accident cover. Check with your provider to see if you've already got cover before you take out a new policy.

How much does personal accident cover cost?

Personal accident cover can be obtained from a little as a few pounds a month, for cover that ranges between £40,000 and £100,000 for a single person. You can also bundle personal accident insurance for you and your partner, for premiums that would be less than on two separate politics.

As anyone can be involved in an accident at any age, your premiums for these policies typically don't rise as you grow older, unlike with other insurance policies. You also generally won't have to disclose your medical history or submit to a medical exam , as pre-existing health conditions have little impact on your susceptibility for accident. However, you can age out of policies; they will generally lapse once you've reached your 80s.

How much does it pay out?

Payouts on personal accident cover are often weighted based on the severity of your injury. For instance, a policy may not pay out if you've only lost 20% of the function of a limb. It may give you 50% of the sum insured, if you lose 50% of the function of the limb - or any other percentage equal to the percentage use you've lost, as assessed by a doctor. Above 70% loss and you'll typically receive the full sum insured. The assessment of the loss of senses is conducted similarly.

When you file a claim, you will generally need to submit evidence of your level of impairment from a medical professional.

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Last reviewed: 1 April 2024

Next review: 1 May 2024