The battle lines are being drawn over the ACT Government’s contentious plans for a new no-fault Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance scheme, with the Greens outlining a suite of measures to ensure people are not worse off if injured in a motor vehicle accident.
Although the Greens support the goals of the new system identified by the citizen’s jury process, they believe the devil is in the detail and are urging the Government to make key changes before the legislation is introduced into the Legislative Assembly.
They want to see adequate support for accident victims, with greater advocacy services available, and certain claimants to have more access to common law to prevent harsh outcomes from the “whole person impairment test”, including children and people with particular work circumstances.
The number of years people can access defined benefits should be extended for all victims, at fault or otherwise; and they should have more time to make claims and be allowed to review the decisions of insurers in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The Greens also take aim at the insurance companies, which should be prevented from making ‘super profits’ and be subject to strict and enforceable obligations to provide information and support to claimants.
Greens spokesperson for Democracy and Community Engagement Caroline Le Couteur said cutting premiums should not come at the expense of people’s health and welfare.
“People should receive treatment and compensation regardless of whether they are at fault in an accident. However, we are concerned about the potential for injured people to be left worse off and face too many barriers when navigating the new system,” she said.
“The Greens want to ensure that the CTP system looks after people that are injured, and provides the care and support they need. We want to ensure that people receive timely access to treatment and support. They shouldn’t have to spend years in a difficult and adversarial legal minefield, battling well-resourced insurance companies, just to receive the help they need.”
The Government’s proposals for a cheaper no-fault scheme have met sustained opposition from lawyers and unions concerned at a loss of victims’ rights to pursue adequate compensation.
The President of the ACT Law Society, Chris Donohue, said the Greens had correctly identified many of the flaws in the Government’s proposals, and that most injured people would be worse off under the Government’s new scheme.
“Insurers will be handed unprecedented power in the way they administer personal injuries claims. The processes that provide for review of insurers’ decisions are woefully inadequate. The proposed treatment of injured children and injured older people will ensure they are particularly disadvantaged,” he said.
He called the whole person impairment test a brutal mechanism that would be used to exclude people from accessing compensation for injuries sustained through no fault of their own in a motor vehicle accident.
“The only winners from the Government’s proposals will be the insurance companies. The potential additional profit of the insurance companies has been calculated to be in excess of $15 million per year,” she said.
Mr Donohue said Government assurances that dishonest conduct could be regulated through the imposition of licence conditions on insurers was laughable.
“Similarly, Government assertions that early treatment and care will be ‘safeguarded’ in their proposed scheme through the imposition of timelines, guidelines, conditions on insurer’s licences and the imposition of sanctions by the regulator is not credible. There are already timelines, guidelines, licence conditions and potential sanctions in place under the existing scheme. It is difficult to see how the new version will remedy what the old one has failed to achieve,” he said.