NSW CTP Green Slip issue rises again


Crash insurance changes an issue of concern three years after initial warning

NSW CTP Green Slip issue rises again
Crunch time for competing views of crash insurance in NSW

 

The New South Wales government’s ‘green slip’ crash insurance reform is back on the agenda and NSW legal circles are airing concerns once again.

The state government wants to cut cost, fraud and waste in the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Green Slip Insurance scheme but critics claim coverage and longer-term entitlements for victims would go with it under the proposed reforms.

Three years ago, the trucking industry was warned about the changes because "most truck drivers are professionals and they normally don’t cause the accident".

State industry representatives are awaiting developments.

"At the moment, we are keeping a watching brief on it for our members," Road Freight NSW general manager Simon O’Hara says.

Meanwhile, as before, the legal sphere is leading the resistance, with Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association to the fore.

"In most cases benefits will be slashed after as little as five years, including compensation for past and future lost earnings, medical treatment expenses, and family care and support – all of which is available under the current CTP Green Slip scheme," Law Society of NSW president Gary Ulman says.

"We are concerned that under the NSW Government proposal which is a modified ‘no fault’ scheme, there will be upwards of a staggering 7,000 at fault drivers claiming benefits each year, putting a huge amount of additional pressure on the scheme and reducing benefits for those who are not at fault.

NSW Bar Association Noel Hutley president said that under the current proposals, for example, loss of earnings would be restricted to five years and capped at 1.5 time average weekly earnings.

"This is particularly harsh for those who are injured but who have a long working life ahead of them. It also singles out those who rely on their physical fitness to earn a living – such as tradespeople," Hultey says.

"Under the proposed scheme most benefits will also be drip-fed to injured motorists for limited periods by the insurers and based on a complex and rigid system that doesn’t take account of people’s personal or family circumstances."

Hutley said the scheme also restricts access to legal assistance will also be denied for up to 90 per cent of injured motorists.

"Injured motorists should be able to access expert help to get the benefits they deserve and not left to fend for themselves against well-resourced insurance company representatives," he adds.

The Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association and other stakeholders have put together an alternative proposal that will reduce fraudulent claims and deliver savings on CTP Green Slip insurance without slashing the benefits of injured motorists and their families.

Details of that campaign can be found here.

Against that, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has pointed to an unwarranted rise in premiums, effectively claiming the scheme was being rorted.

When innovation and better regulation minister Victor Dominello announced a taskforce to tackle that issue in March, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) noted State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) figures showing Sydney experienced a 39 per cent rise in CTP insurance claims in the seven years to 2014.

"The sharpest rise was for minor injuries where the claimant uses legal representation – an increase of 124 per cent in metropolitan Sydney and 92 per cent across the state between 2008 and 2014," ICA CEO Rob Whelan said at the time.

"Though most claims are genuine, NSW Government evidence shows that an increasing number of claims being lodged are likely to lack merit."

In that time, SIRA says handling expenses rose from $62 million annually to $90 million.

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