Two dollars a week a small price to pay for no-fault insurance
25th Feb 2015
An extra two dollars a week to insure the average family car is all it would take to give Western Australia the best motor vehicle accident compensation scheme in Australia, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
The West Australian government is investigating three options for introducing a no-fault Comprehensive Third Party (CTP) catastrophic insurance scheme for the estimated 44 catastrophically-injured people each year who do not receive compensation from the existing scheme. A Green Paper was issued last year canvassing three options.
Catastrophic injuries are the most extreme injuries (including spinal and brain injury), with most people requiring medical care and support for the rest of their lives.
ALA spokesperson Phil Gleeson said that ‘option three’, which would see a no-fault scheme introduced for only an additional $101 per car insurance policy per year, was the preferable option.
Option Three would essentially act as a ‘bolt on’ to the scheme, meaning that thousands of people’s current rights to claim would not be slashed to fund no-fault coverage for all catastrophically injured motor accident victims.
Mr Gleeson said option three struck the best balance between affordability and maintaining the existing rights of individuals who have been injured via the fault of another party to seek lump sum compensation by the legal system.
“Western Australia has the opportunity to introduce the best no-fault motor vehicle accident insurance scheme in Australia,” Mr Gleeson said.
“Option three would create a safety net for all people injured on the road, which would be backed by a scheme that was financially sound, that didn’t slash people’s rights and also retained the option for victims to seek lump sum compensation.”
“The new scheme should build on what clearly is an excellent CTP scheme and level up the access to benefits so that the so-called ‘remaining 44 people’, who are not covered by the CTP scheme, are included and that any no fault scheme is sustainable,” Mr Gleeson said.
“In Western Australia we have an important opportunity now for reform, and we can do it by providing a safety net for people who are catastrophically injured without cutting away existing legal rights and entitlements.”
“We don’t need to dismantle the current system that covers motorists under their CTP policies, we need to add protections for people who are missing out,” Mr Gleeson said.
Mr Gleeson said the ALA supported the continuation of the current CTP system of lump sum compensation, which provides the best avenue for individuals and their families to maintain control, independence and choice in the delivery of their care and support.
He said it also provides individuals and their families with the opportunity to make long-term financial decisions in their own best interests and bring closure to the traumatic event of injury.
Mr Gleeson urged the government to avoid the option taken by the South Australian government to fund a no-fault motor vehicle accident insurance scheme by slashing the rights to injury compensation for all other road users who suffer serious but not catastrophic injury.
“Western Australia has had the most affordable CTP insurance in Australia for the past 17 years, which stands as a testament to the efficiencies the Insurance Commission has been delivering through its own internal administration whilst maintaining adequacy of compensation to accident victims and fair and timely dispute resolution methods,” Mr Gleeson said.
“South Australia paid for its no-fault scheme for catastrophic injuries by taking a chainsaw to the legal rights of the rest of the population injured in motor vehicle accidents,” Mr Gleeson said.
“As a result, it is now much harder for most people in South Australia who are injured in a motor vehicle accident to get the rehabilitation and care they need. South Australia chose to add benefits with one hand and cut rights with the other – and it’s injured South Australians who continue to miss out.”
Note: ALA’s submission to the Green Paper can be downloaded here.