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2019

June communiqué

The Board received an update on the Audit Office’s observations of the early close procedures performed by SIRA ahead of the finalisation of year-end financial statements in line with requirements for NSW public sector agencies and SIRA’s responsibilities under legislation and was pleased to note there were no significant matters raised.

The Board discussed the progress of the Compliance and Performance Review of the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer managed by icare. This included discussion about the themes emerging from the submissions made to date as part of public consultation. The Board noted that the public consultation period has been extended to 5 July 2019. The Board also received a verbal report about the Nominal Insurer Liability Valuation as at 31 December 2018.

The Board considered the draft report on the NSW Young Driver’s Telematics Trial, noting that a peer review is being undertaken prior to finalisation of the report. The Trial was led by SIRA in partnership with the NSW Centre for Road Safety and investigated whether telematics use can positively influence young driver behaviour. The Board discussed the next phase of the project which will focus on evaluating the feasibility of telematics solutions and other innovations in improving road safety.

The Board noted a progress report on several other matters relating to the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme, including an update on the Minor Injury Review program where work is underway on the file review of the first 1000 claims made under the 2017 CTP scheme.

The Board discussed the preliminary findings and recommendations from a review of healthcare arrangements in SIRA-regulated personal injury schemes. The review focused on areas such as trends in medical costs, cross-jurisdictional comparisons of similar schemes and markets, and the risks associated with high-level demographic changes and other healthcare related trends in NSW.

Other matters at the June 2019 Board meeting included:

  • Board Members discussed the support for workers who were affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 who will subsequently be affected by section 59A of the legislation (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses).
  • The Board noted an update on current matters related to the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • Board Members were provided an update on operational and administrative changes arising from the transition to the new Customer Service Cluster.

Trevor Matthews

Chairperson, SIRA Board

May communiqué

At the May meeting of the SIRA Board, Members were provided an update on the Compliance and Performance Review of the NSW Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer Scheme (managed by Insurance and Care NSW). Led by independent reviewer Janet Dore and supported by actuaries Ernst & Young and authorised officers of SIRA, the review has now reached the public consultation phase with the public invited to make submissions by 14 June 2019. Details of the review and the Terms of Reference are published on the SIRA website.

The Hon. Greg Keating, Member of the SIRA Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee provided an update to Board Members on the recent Committee meeting. This included an overview of a discussion with the Hon. Judge Gerard Phillips, President of the Workers Compensation Commission.

The Board approved a draft set of amended Workers Compensation Guidelines and Standards of Practice for consultation with stakeholders. The amended Guidelines and Standards support the implementation of Pre-Injury Average Weekly Earnings (PIAWE) legislative amendments. These amendments were passed by Parliament in October 2018 to simplify and improve PIAWE determinations. Members noted that a draft Regulation is also being prepared.

The Board approved draft amended Return to Work (RTW) Guidelines for public consultation. The RTW Guidelines outline employers’ injury management and return to work obligations and have been updated to reflect legislative changes which commenced in January 2019.

Ms Nancy Milne OAM, Chair of the SIRA Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Premium Committee, provided an update on the May 2019 Committee meeting and overview of the Committee’s advice to the SIRA Board. This included advice relating to the CTP Risk Equalisation Mechanism Implementation Review which is currently underway.

Dr Abby Bloom, Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee provided an update on the May 2019 Committee meeting. The Board was provided with an overview of a recent review of SIRA cyber security measures and updates to the SIRA risk register.

The Board noted updates on the progress of several other matters relating to the CTP Scheme, including a draft analysis of CTP insurer customer service metrics which is being prepared for publication in due course.

Other items discussed at the May 2019 Board meeting included:

  • The Board noted the update on the work being undertaken in response to the Legislative Council Standing Committee for Law and Justice recommendations (tabled in February 2019)
  • The Board was provided an update on the planning for the Minor Injury review. The review will be undertaken as part of a commitment by Hon Victor Dominello MP to review the definition of minor injury under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

April communiqué

At the April Board Meeting, Members were provided with an update on NSW Government administrative arrangements, and discussed opportunities to improve customer experience and outcomes by working with others in the new Customer Service Cluster in the portfolio of the Minister for Customer Service, the Hon. Minister Dominello MP.

Dr Bloom, Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee, provided an update on a Special Committee Meeting to consider SIRA’s Early Close Financial Statements. The Committee’s engagement in Early Close procedures will enable SIRA to develop timely and high-quality year-end financial statements in line with requirements for NSW public sector agencies and its responsibilities under legislation.

Board Members were provided an update on the status of NSW Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Green Slip refunds arrangements, with refunds available to eligible NSW policy-holders since early 2018. As the refunds program will cease on 30 June 2019, the Board noted SIRA’s intention to return unclaimed refunds to NSW policyholders.

The Board noted a progress update on several other matters relating to the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme, including Scheme performance, financial matters relating to the Scheme, the draft Transitional Excess Profit and Loss Guidelines, and the Young Drivers Telematics Trial. Analysis of data and research continues, with reports and matters for the Board’s decision to be considered over the upcoming months.

Other items discussed at the April 2019 Board meeting included:

  • The Board noted that as part of its responsibilities under legislation, SIRA is considering the valuation of insurance liabilities of the NSW (Workers Compensation) Nominal Insurer as at 31 December 2018, and the 2019/20 Nominal Insurer Premium filing.
  • Board Members noted SIRA’s continuing development of a strategy to support workers who were affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, and who will subsequently be affected by section 59A of the legislation (limiting payment of compensation for medical expenses).
  • The Board noted an update on current matters in the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • Members were updated on SIRA’s strategic planning for 2019/20.
  • Board Members noted a quarterly update on key SIRA People and Culture statistics.
  • The Board briefly considered SIRA’s ongoing focus on the application of the findings from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

March communiqué

The SIRA Board had a valuable discussion with the new President of the Workers Compensation Commission, the Hon. Judge Gerard Phillips, who succeeded our SIRA Board member, the Hon. Mr Greg Keating. The Commission does important work resolving disputes between injured workers and their employers and this session provided the Board with some useful insights on the Commission’s activities and the issues facing the system at present.

Dr Graeme Innes AM, Chair of the SIRA Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee, provided a report on the March 2019 Committee Meeting. He advised that the Committee’s focus is on obtaining system-wide data to provide insights about the accessibility, timeliness and effectiveness of dispute resolution in the workers compensation system and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme, and opportunities to prevent disputes where possible. The Committee also discussed the recommendations outlined in the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Committee Report on the 2018 Review of the Workers Compensation Scheme. The Board noted that the Committee will invite a number of key stakeholders to future meetings of the Committee over 2019. Information about the Committee Members is available on the SIRA website.

The SIRA Board engaged in further discussion on the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry including relevant considerations and focus areas for SIRA. Key themes under discussion included inter-regulator collaboration, insurer transparency, organisational culture and governance, and appropriate regulatory approach and arrangements for enforcement teams.

The Board was pleased to endorse SIRA’s release of a consultation paper on a proposed consistent set of customer service conduct principles across the insurance schemes it regulates. The community expects that their interactions with mandatory personal injury schemes are efficient, honest and fair. Businesses require affordable and efficient policies providing adequate protection, while the beneficiaries of these policies need to be properly supported. As an insurance conduct regulator, the Board supports SIRA’s proactive regulation of supervised insurers in accordance with the legislation, in line with community expectations and in the best interests of customers.

Ms Nancy Milne OAM, Chair of the SIRA CTP Premium Committee, provided an update on the March 2019 Committee Meeting and overview of the Committee’s advice to the SIRA Board on several CTP premium-related matters. These included the CTP Risk Equalisation Mechanism Post-Implementation Review expected to occur in April/May 2019, and ongoing engagement with the taxi industry (Point to Point transport) on the planned introduction of application-based booking and metering systems in May 2019. Further information about the Committee Members is available on the SIRA website.

The Board noted the progress on development of the CTP Transitional Excess Profit and Loss (TEPL) mechanism Guidelines, which have undergone extensive stakeholder consultation. The Guidelines are due to be finalised following the making of a transitional regulation amending Schedule 4 of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (the Act). SIRA has addressed feedback on the draft Guidelines from insurers, actuaries and other stakeholders, including the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Final technical adjustments are being made, with further actuarial and legal advice to be applied. Members look forward to considering the final version of the Guidelines, which will be implemented to ensure that the underwriting profits achieved by insurers during the transition period are neither excessive nor inadequate.

Other items discussed at the March 2019 Board meeting included:

  • Board Members noted SIRA’s continuing development of a strategy to support workers who were affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, and will subsequently be affected by section 59A of the legislation (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses).
  • The Board was provided a progress update on the program of work to support the implementation of the dispute resolution amendments featured in the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.
  • Board Members noted an update on current matters in the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • Members were provided an update on SIRA’s strategic planning for 2019/20.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board

February communiqué

Dr Graeme Innes AM, Member of the SIRA Board and Chair of the recently established SIRA Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee, provided a report to the Board from the inaugural meeting of the Committee in early February 2019. The purpose of the Committee is to advise the SIRA Board on matters relating to dispute resolution services for injured people and insurers, across a range of personal injury compensation schemes.

Along with Dr Innes, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the appointed Members of the Committee, namely,

  • The Hon. Mr Greg Keating, recently appointed Member of the SIRA Board;
  • Mr Andrew Stone SC; and
  • Professor Tania Sourdin.

Each Committee Member brings unique knowledge and experience to the Committee, and we look forward to receiving their advice. Further information about the Members is available via the SIRA website.

Dr Abby Bloom, recently appointed Chair of the SIRA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC), provided an update on the February 2019 ARC Meeting. Board Members noted the overview of the Annual Engagement Plan for the audit of the SIRA financial statements for the year ending June 2019 by the NSW Audit Office.

The Board thanked Ms Nancy Milne OAM, Deputy Chair of the SIRA Board and outgoing Chair of the SIRA ARC, for her leadership of the Committee since its establishment in 2016. Ms Milne has been re-appointed to the SIRA ARC as an Independent Member for a further term.

The SIRA Board received a highly informative presentation from representatives of TCorp (NSW Treasury Corporation), the financial markets partner of the NSW Public Sector, on the investment governance and fund performance of the Insurers’ Guarantee Fund (IGF). Discussions on the IGF are held at key intervals to assist Board Members to discharge their responsibilities for the IGF, a statutory fund established under Division 227 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987. The IGF funds the claim payments of the remaining liabilities of insolvent insurers, and SIRA is responsible for administering the IGF.

Board Members noted SIRA’s continuing development of a strategy to support workers who were affected by section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987, and will subsequently be affected by section 59A of the legislation (limit on payment of compensation for medical expenses). SIRA is working closely with insurers and relevant stakeholders to identify key initiatives to assist these workers as they transition off medical benefits.

Members were pleased to note that SIRA convened the first in a series of monthly community of practice session with insurers in February 2019. The aim of this Community of Practice is to share experiences, information and co-develop resources to provide support and information for workers affected by section 59A and treatment providers within their respective portfolios.

The Board noted a progress update on the program of work to support the implementation of the dispute resolution amendments featured in the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. It is expected that the final tranches of the program will be completed by June 2019.

Other items discussed at the February 2019 Board meeting included:

  • Board Members Ms Nancy Milne and Dr Abby Bloom provided an update on their attendance at the recent (February 2019) National Heads of Motor Accident Insurance Schemes (HMAIS) meeting with the National Transport Commission (NTC) to discuss the introduction of Autonomous Vehicles and how they will interact with CTP Insurance schemes. Discussion ensued on how current motor accidents legislation would respond, where the onus of proof should lie in relation to liability and what would need to be done to ensure a right recovery against manufacturers. The NTC will incorporate into their recommendations HMAIS feedback on what is critical to consider for motor accidents schemes.
  • Board Members noted an update on 2017 Compulsory Third Party Green Slip scheme monitoring, with the scheme December 2018 quarter insights report to be published on the SIRA website in due course.
  • The Board discussed progress on SIRA’s strategic planning for 2019/20.
  • Members were provided an update on the management of Alternative Indemnity Providers under the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
  • As a standing item, the Board discussed the proceedings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry and the recently published Report.

Trevor Matthews
Chairperson, SIRA Board