In an announcement this week, Queensland deputy premier and treasurer Jackie Trad revealed the government will introduce the new laws to the state’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme, in a bid to stop the “predatory behaviour” that claim farming poses.
“Claim farming is when members of the public receive cold calls or social media prompts seeking personal details regarding possible involvement in car accidents,” Ms Trad said.
“The claim farmers encourage people to make a CTP claim to gain access to personal, sensitive details which they then sell on.
“Claim farmers often use high-pressure tactics and can be contacting vulnerable people, including children and the elderly. People are rightly concerned that their personal, private information is being provided to claim farmers or accessed by claim farmers.”
Ms Trad said it has become clear that some claim farmers “appear to have no moral boundaries and that is why their business practices must be stopped”. As part of her plea, Ms Trad told the Economics and Governance Committee that she had asked Queensland’s CTP scheme regulator, the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) to urgently advise on options to remove this “insidious practice”.
“This will include progressing amendments to the Motor Accident Insurance Act,” she said.
“We will be consulting widely with the key stakeholders because it is important to get the changes right. We need to ensure that genuinely injured claimants are not impacted by the actions of a few bad apples and that Queensland’s CTP scheme remains affordable and supportive of injured Queenslanders.
“The government is committed to preserving the strength and stability of the Queensland CTP scheme. That’s why we are acting to protect people’s privacy and stop this harassment. We expect to introduce legislation in 2019. In the meantime, MAIC will begin to roll out a range of activities that focus on raising awareness for consumers and businesses alike around this practice.”
The prevalent issue of claim farming came to light recently, following Slater and Gordon being accused of engaging in the practice with several companies, an allegation it denied.
Lawyers Weekly was recently told that the use of claim farming was on a much broader scale than one firm, with a partner at Adviceline Injury Lawyers revealing that one of his clients, whose mother was dying in the hospital, was approached to contact three different law firms, unprompted.
The issue has sparked many reactions, including from the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, who earlier this month issued a warning to over 20,000 lawyers, warning them to exercise care when offering their services to consumers.
NSW Law Society president Doug Humphreys also issued a statement, expressing concerns about the future of professional standards in Australia’s legal profession.