Minor injury claimants struggling under the ‘might’ of insurer companies
Insurers are reaping the benefits from motor vehicle accidents under the current NSW motor vehicle accident scheme, said the president of the NSW Bar Association.
President Tim Game added on top of insurers pocketing 95 per cent of premiums, the number of claimants seeking legal assistance is very low, due to the pressure of taking these cases against insurers who were spending up to $1 million in defence.
Mr Game said this indicates only a very small number of claimants are able to access legal advice and that in most cases, injured claimants are pitted against the “might and resources of insurance companies without proper access to representation”.
Since the commencement of the scheme, Mr Game said motorists have paid billions of dollars in green slip premiums to insurers and the most recent figures from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) indicate only an estimated 5 per cent of the premiums collected were actually paid to people injured on the road.
“The disparity between actual estimates for the scheme and the reality makes for stark reading. The definition of ‘minor injuries’ excludes many genuinely injured people from adequate compensation,” Mr Games said, adding victims receive statutory benefits for a strictly limited period due to the broad definition of “minor injury”.
In a submission to the SIRA’s review, the NSW Bar Association highlighted there have been fewer claims lodged under the 2017 scheme than foreseen by the government.
As of July, there have been 17,403 claims in total, as opposed to the 30,000 maximum that should have been the case if the assumptions underlying the scheme design were accurate, according to the NSW Bar Association. It added that although claim numbers are down, the proportion of people excluded is higher than estimated.
“The reality is that almost twice as many claims are being assessed as minor injuries than was foreshadowed by the government’s actuaries.”
“The NSW Bar Association is calling on SIRA to consult with all injured claimants under the scheme in order to understand the barriers which exist in the scheme to fair and reasonable compensation,” Mr Game said.