The head of Maurice Blackburn's insurance and litigation practice has been appointed to a Federal Government panel for the second time in the space of one month.
John Berrill was appointed to the National Disaster Insurance Review panel by the assistant treasurer and former Maurice Blackburn lawyer Bill Shorten. In February, Shorten also appointed Berrill as one of 15 members on the Stronger Super Peak Consultative Group to assist the government with superannuation reform.
In commenting on his latest government panel appointment, Berrill said he would be giving a voice to insurance policy holders on the three-member panel.
"There are still quite a few gaps in the insurance market with respect to providing coverage for catastrophic events," Berrill told Lawyers Weekly. Berrill nominated flood insurance, for both domestic and business policy holders, and "storm surges" such as the recent Cyclone Yasi in Queensland, as areas where private insurance coverage has room for reform.
Former Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) executive member and Trowbridge Consulting founder John Trowbridge, and Tower Australia managing director Jim Minto are the other members of the panel.
Shorten has charged the panel with looking into the reasons for underinsurance of flood and other natural disasters in Australia, the ability of the private insurance market to adequately cover individuals and businesses for natural disasters and whether there is a role for the Commonwealth Government in providing disaster insurance or reinsurance to the private sector.
The panel, which is scheduled to have its first meeting in Canberra next week, is due to make its recommendations to Shorten by the end of September.
Shorten had a stint at Maurice Blackburn before working for the union movement. Berrill, who has been at Maurice Blackburn for over 25 years, remembers when Shorten was at the firm but says he does not know him well.