25 January 2019

Greens urge repairs so new CTP scheme can be roadworthy

| Ian Bushnell
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The Greens support a no-fault Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance scheme but the devil is in the detail.

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 lengthy reform process has included public consultation, the ACT’s first Citizens Jury process and a split Assembly committee inquiry into the draft Motor Accident Injuries Bill.

multiple car crash

The Greens would like to see adequate support for accident victims, among others. File photo.

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.

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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.

For the want of balance, what is the expected ‘loss’ to the lawyers out of all this? We all know only one thing drives them, and that’s getting their tentacles into every crevice in search of every $$$ of rent extraction that they can achieve.

Hey Jim9

Yes the lawyers would lose a lot for sure, especially so if most of their income centers around CTP cases. So yes for them you make valid logic.

Worse still however is the loss that will be, will be suffered by those trying to get something back for the costs and suffering associated from an accident.

I can see only one good aspect proposed. Some level of income protection for victims. But that does not require an entire rewrite of the current ACT into a new Bill, that frankly robs everything from everyone (Victims and the Lawyers) and hands that over to the insurers, without any requirement to report on anything.

Victims stand to lose the most.
Lawyers, for sure second.
Insurers – Winners!

Thanks Gary. My broader point in this space is we need more nuanced, more balanced reporting on this. All we get is the ‘evil insurers’ angle on the one side and the ‘this is amazing’ from the government on the other…

Its hard to make a rational judgment as to the validity of the proposed changes when there is so much ‘muck raking’ going on.

The Government seems intent on triyng to lower at almost any cost (good bad or otherwise) the cost of CTP in the Territory (Which is very high against other jurisdctions, make no meal about that) but perhaps are trying to go too far one way, while there seems a group of people of a view of ‘never any change at all’ which suggests it is truly about protecting their rent seeking behaviour, as I think its pretty clear the current system is also ‘sub optimal’.

I’d like to see someone sit down and actually logically dissect the proposed changes with a neutral viewpoint. Its a broader problem in so much policy development and debate today – all we see are the extremes of the argument portrayed in the media, without better in depth analysis.

To me it would seem the current system is too generous in regards to the incentives for rent seeking behaviour, but the proposed system probably sways power too far towards the insurance group. But I do think there is clear space for improvements to be made as well – so much like in the ‘urban infill’ development debate, I find it grating that there are so many that will simply fall for the ‘we have an amazing system, why change a thing’ line being thrown out by those who will see their rent seeking opportunities reduced.

Hi Jim9, thanks for a solid reply. Nice to have a decent public place to discuss all this.

Balanced Reporting: Agreed. But I would point out that not one victim either current or past, via the CTP process, was directly engaged at any time in the drafting of the new Bill. When I was in front of the Standing Committee, they asked me on record, whether or not I had line of sight as to where the Proposed Bill was coming from or from where the pressure to change it was coming from. They then turned and said that they had no idea. – That told me something.

Especially when combined with the fact that anyone with solid prior knowledge, as a victim, was excluded from “The Process”.

So we have here a new proposed Bill that was written and preformed by the four predefined models handed to the Citzens Jury. The result – A bill that in no way really will help those it is supposed to be written to protect, or make lives better; The Victims of Motor Vehicle Accidents.

For the record, the last time the insurers were forced to report their profits from this CTP system was the fiscal year 2014 / 2015. Their profits were at that time around the $62 Million mark. They had no had to do that level of reporting since.

If we wanted to decrease the amounts of money we are “forced to pay”, would it be logical at first steps to investigate the profits now being enjoyed by the Insurers, at first principle?

Further Jim9 I would add in reply.

In a new proposed Bill we could advantage ourselves as citizens, to ensure that at the very least a large requirement be placed in the Insurers to do what they do under Service Level Agreements, Reporting effectiveness both in time and costs related to getting victims well.

Continuous Improvement programs would also be well worth consideration.

More visibility and responsibility for reporting and continuous improvement could and should be part of the obligation placed onto either the Insurers directly or via the newly proposed “Commission”, if someone was brave enough to give it real teeth to execute on the same.

Sadly Jim9, none of the above is captured anywhere in the new proposed Bill. Actually experience of victims ignored totally. 4 models ready to go before the Jury puppet show was played out. No burden of real reporting mandated anywhere.

This stinks. Stinks a great deal.

I have a lot of sympathy for those that were responsible for trying to run and administer the deliberative democracy process. Its not an easy thing. And while I can understand why some people think it should be ‘carte blanche’ for the jury in such a circumstance, I think a reasonable level of pragmatism is also required, especially for very complex problems such as CTP. I don’t think it would have any chance of success if it is solely left as a ‘blank sheet’ in such circumstances.

The question of those that have previously experienced the CTP system as it currently applies was always going to be a hard one. Because it is highly likely they will have a strong bias one way or the other – if they had good experience, they will support strongly a retention of current systems. Likewise, if they had a poor experience, they would probably want changes and advocate hard for it. It is very hard for those people to be broadly objective in their views.

That isn’t to say they shouldn’t have been provided an opportunity to have input to the process – but I can understand why they may have been removed from the sample.

Completely agree that there should be far greater transparency and reporting. You won’t get any argument from me in that space. Would love to see a lot more of that in a lot of areas, not just CTP in the ACT.

“But I would point out that not one victim either current or past, via the CTP process, was directly engaged at any time in the drafting of the new Bill.”

While they should be consulted with (and I have no doubt, given how poor this government is at consulting at the best of times, that it could easily have been done better) and given ample opportunities to comment on what is being proposed in terms of legislation, I’m not sure what additional ‘direct engagement’ you would propose beyond that in terms of the legislative drafting process?

I thought the whole point was that the Bill should broadly reflect whatever model (rightly or wrongly developed) was ultimately agreed to) Otherwise its hardly reflective of the deliberative democracy process. If it doesn’t do that, and there isn’t strong justification for the variation, then surely it is not in faith with the process being followed.

It seems your biggest beef is with the options that were presented for consideration, more so than the actual processes themselves.

A few facts:

1. It is my understanding that no victims of accidents have been across either the creation or the wording of the new Proposed Bill. Sheer and total madness. Make a new Bill without consulting ever, those who have had previous knowledge.

2. The proposed WPI measures are supported by another document that describes injuries and loss of Life measures. This document clearly states that its measures and conclusions cite “That these should not be used” for the very process that they are being proposed to be used by the new Bill.

3. They are no hints at any service level delivery requirements. No real measurement or KPI’s cited that provides any visibility on how well “things” are working in the new Bill. No Continuous improvement program or measurement provisions.

4. They is no reporting of “revenue v profits” by or on “the Insurers”.

I could go on for pages and pages.

Everyone in this state and anyone entering this state, should be keenly interested and providing letters of great concern to every MP they can.

Steven Bailey4:37 pm 04 Feb 19

Great article RiotACT.

I’d make these points:

Do you trust insurance companies to look after you? Andrew Barr ACT Chief Minister does.

1) The ACT Government’s unethical proposal to change compulsory third party insurance (CTP) will leave innocently injured road accident victims in financial hardship, on welfare, and at the mercy of insurance companies.

2) This Bill is a result of an ACT Citizen’s Jury who were told at the beginning by Andrew Barr what to think, which translated into what they decided. Throughout, they were shepherded on the path by experts employed and paid by the ACT Government.

3) The ACT, currently, has the best and fairest CTP schemes in Australia. Don’t let this Accident Injuries Bill 2018 ruin social justice for Canberrans. The ACT should, and can, lead Australia in issues of social justice.

Stand up for the rights of all who live in the ACT by supporting this post and contacting your local Labor, Greens, and Liberal politicians.

– Steven Bailey

My Understanding,

“2) This Bill is a result of an ACT Citizen’s Jury who were told at the beginning by Andrew Barr what to think, which translated into what they decided. Throughout, they were shepherded on the path by experts employed and paid by the ACT Government.”

The “models” that the jury selected were predefined before the Jury members were selected. So in honest they were only ever “selecting” from these predefined models.

BTW to be a jury member, you couldn’t have ever had a claim, nor be currently making a claim inside the CTP system. So anyone that had any real working knowledge was selected out, before you could put your hand up.

My preference,

“1) The ACT Government’s unethical proposal to change compulsory third party insurance (CTP) will leave innocently injured road accident victims in financial hardship, on welfare, and at the mercy of insurance companies.”

Under the current ACT victims are in worse hardship than would be the case in the proposed Bill. But this would really be the only aspect worth consideration in the new proposed Bill. But that in turn begs the question. Why couldn’t this be added to the existing ACT as an update only?

BTW on the management of the Jury. One of the Jurors got up and walked out, when told only days before having to make a recommendation, about the WPI (Whole Body Impairment) aspects contained inside the Bill. Such was the lack of transparency about and inside the management of the Jury.

We are already at the mercy of the Insurance Companies, inside the current CTP definition. The new Bill hands whatever was not provided to the insurers previously, over on a platter. Judge, Jury and Execution, under the new Bill, now nicely defined as “The Insurer”.

I have been in the Canberra Times, on Radio, letters to MP’s, In front of the ACT standing committee on record, in “off line” workshops and meetings. Basically trying to talk to anyone who has even a slight interest in how we are all being robbed more, as a result of the new Bill.

Sadly it seems most are too busy with normal life pressures to think about where they might be if they have a serious Motor Vehicle Accident.

On what measure do you base the assessment it is one “the best and fairest CTP schemes”?

There are some fairly significant gaps in the current system, that could be improved upon substantially. And its highly reliant on common law claims, which are slow, expensive and inefficient approach in many ways – unless of course one is a lawyer, then its amazing.
There are strong incentives within the current system that make ‘maximising compensation’ rather than ‘maximising health outcomes’ the primary objective – which surely is not a good outcome for anybody.

And that’s before taking into account its also a very expensive system as well.

Not saying the solution proposed is the optimal one, but I don’t think at all a particularly good system as it is, and reforms are not worthy of being considered….

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