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Motor accidents bulletin - June 2016

Memo from the Executive Director

It’s been a busy three months.

In the March edition of the Bulletin we reported on the launch of the Government’s review of the Green Slip scheme. Since then, SIRA has been managing the review process on the Government’s behalf, including the release of an options paper and the call for and processing of submissions.

A number of roundtable forums were held to gauge the views of key stakeholder groups representing the legal, insurer and health professions, as well as road user and community representatives. A leading social market research company was also contracted to assess the views of a range of road users. Focus groups, telephone interviews and online surveys were held with vehicle owners, bicycle riders and other road users, as well as people who had been injured in motor vehicle accidents.

The result of this extensive consultation was last week’s announcement by the Government of its preferred reform option for the scheme. The Government has also announced its position on CTP insurance for point-to-point vehicles.

In addition to this activity, the past three months have seen SIRA engage across a range of policy and operational areas, including work to counter CTP insurance fraud, involvement in the review by the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice on the CTP scheme, and assessing the insurance impact of automated vehicles.

All of these are detailed in this edition of the Bulletin, together with developments from our injury management and prevention and dispute services areas.

I would like to also thank you, our stakeholders, for your support during these past few months. As you can see, there is a great deal of activity and reform currently underway and we will continue working with you as we further develop and implement these initiatives.

Andrew Nicholls
Executive Director
Motor Accidents Insurance Regulation
State Insurance Regulatory Authority

Reform of the NSW Motor Accidents CTP scheme

On 29 June, the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, the Hon Victor Dominello MP, announced the Government’s preferred option for the reform of the NSW Motor Accidents CTP scheme.

The Government’s options paper had presented four options for consideration. Following a period of extensive consultation with the community, the Government has proposed a version of the third option: A hybrid scheme, providing for defined benefits available to all people injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault, and modified common law damages (which are fault-based) for the more seriously injured.

An expert reference panel, chaired by former NSW Government Minister John Della Bosca and Deputy Chair of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority Board Nancy Milne, will make recommendations on the detail of the enabling legislation, to be introduced into Parliament later this year.

Following further stakeholder consultation, legislation will be drafted and a Bill introduced into Parliament later this year. Subject to Parliament’s approval, the new scheme could come into effect from July 2017.

More information on the reforms is available at greenslipreforms.nsw.gov.au

Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice

The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice has commenced its review of the CTP scheme.

The Committee is responsible for overseeing the operation of the insurance and compensation schemes under the State Insurance and Care Governance Act 2015. It may inquire into any matter relating to the schemes, except individual compensation claims, and is required to report to the NSW Parliament every two years.

This is the Committee’s first review of the CTP scheme since the formation of SIRA in September 2015. The Committee has conducted reviews of the CTP scheme since 1999, with the last review of the former Motor Accidents Authority undertaken in March 2014.

The Standing Committee has published 12 submissions to the review which are available on the NSW Parliament website.

Public hearings were held on 17 June 2016. Anthony Lean, Chief Executive Officer, SIRA, and Andrew Nicholls, Executive Director, Motor Accidents Insurance Regulation, SIRA, appeared before the Committee.

Review of CTP insurance for point-to-point transport vehicles

The Government has announced that it will be introducing an innovative new pricing system for taxis and ride-share services that will make premiums fairer and more affordable.

Under the new premium arrangements, taxi and ride-share vehicle owners will pay a base premium, plus an additional variable component based on their vehicle usage, which will be collected through in-vehicle technologies such as telematics. The new arrangements will ensure that CTP insurance accurately reflects a motor vehicle’s risk and usage.

The announcement follows a review of CTP insurance for point-to-point vehicles aimed at ensuring that the CTP insurance framework supports ride-sharing services alongside traditional forms of point-to-point transport such as taxis and hire cars.

A discussion paper, canvassing six key options, was released for public consultation, and a roundtable with key stakeholders was held to discuss in detail the feasibility of the various options for reform. Submissions to the review are available on the SIRA website.

There was a high level of stakeholder engagement and the consultation process highlighted a strong stakeholder preference for a move to a greater risk-based approach to premium setting for point-to-point vehicles, based on vehicle usage. This approach is consistent with the findings and recommendations of the 2015 Point to Point Transport Taskforce report.

The new premium system will enable insurers to offer more flexible and innovative Green Slip insurance products to the point-to-point transport industry, and ensure ride-share operators pay premiums more reflective of their risk, establishing a more level playing field for all point-to-point transport providers.

SIRA’s consultation with key stakeholders will continue in relation to the detailed design and implementation of the new premium-setting process, including the timeframe for introduction. Priority will be given to ensuring that ride-share operators transition to the new arrangements as quickly as possible after the broader CTP reforms are enacted.

Combatting CTP insurance fraud

As a result of fraudulent claims, NSW motorists are paying up to $400 million extra each year in CTP premiums.

In March, the Government announced the creation of a multi-agency taskforce to develop strategies to counter fraud, with SIRA chief executive Anthony Lean as its chair.

In April, SIRA released the report, Deterring fraudulent and exaggerated claims in the NSW CTP insurance scheme, available on the SIRA website. The report details approaches to addressing CTP fraud and provides detailed analysis of CTP scheme trends.

April also saw SIRA’s advertising campaign to promote the CTP fraud hotline in areas of Sydney with the highest incidence of fraudulent claims. Advertisements ran in community and non-English language newspapers, in addition to sponsored newsfeed posts on Facebook. The campaign resulted in a high level of engagement with the SIRA website and hotline.

SIRA will also be utilising dedicated staff and state-of-the-art data analytics to detect fraud and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those caught.

The work of SIRA and the Taskforce has been strengthened with the Government’s announcement earlier this month that the State Budget will include an allocation of $1.2 million to target CTP fraud.

Also of interest is a recent story on CTP fraud that featured in A Current Affair on Channel Nine. It can be viewed on the show’s website.

Automated vehicles

SIRA commissioned Finity Consulting to prepare a report on the potential issues and impacts arising from the introduction of autonomous vehicles on CTP insurance.

The final report, The impact of autonomous vehicles on CTP insurance and its regulation, identifies a range of implications for regulators of CTP insurance schemes arising from the introduction of autonomous vehicles. The report is available on the SIRA website.

Recognising that a consistent approach to the regulation of autonomous vehicles across Australia is required, SIRA has led the ongoing national discussion of the issue of autonomous vehicles through the Heads of Australian and New Zealand Motor Accidents Insurance Schemes.

The NSW Parliament Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety (Staysafe) is currently conducting an Inquiry into Driverless Vehicles and Road Safety. Public hearings were held on 17 June 2016 and 20 June 2016. Further information is available on the NSW Parliament website.

Injury Management and Prevention Update

SIRA has launched an online Injury Advice Centre at www.sira.nsw.gov.au/injuryadvicecentre, to provide injury recovery advice for people involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Some of the resources on the portal include:

  • Whiplash recovery
    • fact sheets with recovery advice
    • instructions for neck exercises
    • a new animated video, ‘Get moving’, with advice on how to stay active and get better faster.
  • General advice for anyone involved in a car accident
    • a fact sheet describing what to expect after an accident, common physical symptoms and emotional responses and practical strategies to facilitate recovery
    • emotional recovery after experiencing the trauma of a motor vehicle accident and practical strategies and advice to promote emotional recovery.
    • Key fact sheets have been translated into 13 community languages.

SIRA encourages you to visit the portal and disseminate this information as appropriate to people injured in a car crash.

Email Penny with any enquiries.

Service provider guides review

SIRA is currently reviewing its service provider guides for communication between health service providers and CTP insurers:

  • The Allied Health Recovery Request for single service treatment requests will be used in both Workers Compensation and Motor Accidents and is now available for use with workers compensation claims. CTP insurers are encouraged to accept this form if submitted ahead of the official release in the scheme.
  • New Rehabilitation Services, Attendant Care and Equipment Request forms and guide for CTP claimants are being finalised following a second round of user testing completed in May. The draft forms and guides are available on the SIRA website for use in the interim.

To provide feedback or for more information about the guides, email Jane.

SIRA continues to provide training throughout the year to help health service providers better understand how to work in the NSW Motor Accidents CTP scheme, as well as helping insurers and legal representatives to understand whole person impairment assessment. Details appear on the SIRA website.

Research

You may be interested in a recently published paper, Predictors of time to claim closure following a non-catastrophic injury sustained in a motor vehicle crash: a prospective cohort study. This paper is from the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research, University of Sydney. Gopinath et al. BMC Public Health (2016) 16:421 DOI 10.1186/s12889-016-3093-y.

Academics, clinicians and CTP scheme policy makers are invited to the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research academic forum, to be held on Monday, 29 August 2016, at the Kolling Institute, Royal North Shore Hospital Campus, St Leonards. The confirmed key note speakers are Professors Glenn Pransky and Mick Sullivan. A full program will be announced in July on the Centre’s website.

The Centre focuses on research and education in rehabilitation and injury-related disability. It is an interdisciplinary Centre of the University of Sydney and is part of the Kolling Institute at Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards. The Centre’s funding for motor vehicle accident research is provided by SIRA in partnership with iCare.

Injury prevention

SIRA works with the NSW Centre for Road Safety (CRS), Transport for NSW, to deliver on its commitment to road safety and road trauma injury prevention. It supports road safety education campaigns that include:

It also supports research and program initiatives, with the current areas of focus including

In addition, SIRA supports the NSW Government’s Towards Zero strategy, which is a vision for a future free of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. To find out more about more about Towards Zero, visit the NSW Centre of Road Safety website.

News from Dispute Services

Court Cases/Decisions of Interest

Citation: Allianz Australia Insurance Ltd v Zein [2016] NSWSC 196

  • Hearing date: 3 March 2016
  • Decision date: 8 March 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Adamson J

Decision:

  1. Dismiss the amended summons.
  2. Unless an application for a different order is made in writing to my Associate within seven days hereof, order the plaintiff to pay the defendants’ costs.
  3. Dissolve the stay granted by Hidden J on 25 November 2015 on the basis that the proceedings have been determined by the refusal of the relief sought.

Citation: Insurance Australia Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance v Pate [2016] NSWSC 278

  • Hearing date: 4 December 2015
  • Decision date: 18 March 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Schmidt J

Decision:

  1. The assessor’s decision be set aside.
  2. Mrs Pate’s application for damages under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act be assessed according to law.
  3. Unless the parties approach within 14 days, the Court's order as to costs is that the first defendant must bear the plaintiff's costs, as agreed or assessed.
  4. All exhibits and subpoenaed material may be returned forthwith; any exhibits returned must be retained intact by the party or person that produced the material until the expiry of the time to file an appeal, or until any appeal has been determined.

Citation: Zahed v IAG Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance [2016] NSWCA 55

  • Hearing date: 5 February 2016
  • Decision date: 23 March 2016
  • Court: Court of Appeal Supreme Court NSW
  • Before: Meagher JA, Leeming JA, Emmett AJA

Decision:

  1. Appeal dismissed with costs.

Citation: Averkiou v CIC Allianz Australia Insurance Limited [2016] NSWSC 311

  • Hearing date: 3 December 2015
  • Decision date: 23 March 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Harrison AsJ

Decision:

The Court declares that:

  1. The decision of the medical assessor review panel in matter number 2014/04/1773 made on 25 May 2015 is vitiated by jurisdictional error

The Court makes an order:

  1. In the nature of certiorari removing into the Court the decision of the medical assessor review panel in matter number 2014/04/1773 made on 25 May 2015 and quashing that decision.

The Court further orders that:

  1. Matter number 2014/04/1773 is remitted to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority to be determined in accordance with law.
    The first defendant is to pay the plaintiff’s costs on an ordinary basis as agreed or assessed.

Citation: AAI Ltd trading as GIO v Cooley [2016] NSWSC 434

  • Hearing date: 18 March 2016
  • Decision date: 15 April 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Fullerton J

Decision:

  1. Summons dismissed.
  2. Plaintiff to pay first defendant’s costs.

Citation: Allianz Insurance Ltd v Larriera [2016] NSWSC 441
Hearing date: 31 March 2016
Decision date: 15 April 2016
Court: Supreme Court of NSW
Before: Campbell J

Decision:

  1. Proceedings dismissed
  2. Plaintiff to pay the first defendant’s costs on the ordinary basis forthwith after they have been agreed or assessed

Citation: NRMA Insurance Ltd v Buckley [2016] NSWSC 475

  • Hearing date: 8 May 2015
  • Decision date: 26 April 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Rothman J

Decision:

  1. Summons dismissed
  2. The plaintiff shall pay the first defendant’s costs of and incidental to the proceedings, as agreed or assessed.
  3. If either party seeks a different or special order as to costs, such should be the subject of an application made to my Associate, which application should include all relevant documents upon which the application relies, except those documents that are already in evidence and shall, but for those documents, not exceed three pages in length. Such application shall be made within one week of the issue of these reasons for judgment and be subject to a reply within one week of service of any such application.

Citation: Insurance Australia Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance v Melkonyants [2016] NSWSC 503

  • Hearing date: 3 June 2015\
  • Decision date: 26 April 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Rothman J

Decision:

  1. Summons dismissed.
  2. The plaintiff shall pay the first defendant’s costs of and incidental to the proceedings, as agreed or assessed.
  3. If either the plaintiff or the first defendant seek a different or special order as to costs, an application may be made to my Associate within seven days of the publication of these reasons which application should attach any documents (other than documents already in evidence) on which the party relies and, with the exception of those attached documents, the application and submission in support should be no more than three pages in length. Any party affected by any such application may reply, the length of the document having the same restrictions as that which applies to the application, within a further seven days from receipt of any aforesaid application.

Citation: QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd v Davies [2016] NSWSC 536

  • Hearing date: 27 April 2016
  • Decision date: 29 April 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Adamson J

Decision:

  1. Extend the time within which the plaintiff is to commence judicial review proceedings in relation to the decision of the proper officer made on 20 May 2015 to refer the dispute to an appeal panel for review to 30 November 2015, being the date on which the summons was filed.
  2. Dismiss the summons.
  3. Unless an application for a different order is made in writing to my Associate within seven days hereof, order the plaintiff to pay the defendants’ costs of the proceedings.

Citation: Walpole v Insurance Australia Ltd t/as NRMA Insurance [2016] NSWSC 702

  • Hearing date: 1 June 2016
  • Decision date: 1 June 2016
  • Court: Supreme Court of NSW
  • Before: Harrison AsJ

Decision:

  1. The first defendant is to pay the plaintiff’s costs of the proceedings, including the costs of today.