08 September 2016

There has been a lot of talk lately about green slip reform, but do you really know what the NSW Baird Liberal Government is proposing with their changes to the current motor accident CTP scheme?

The NSW Baird Liberal Government of course is touting the proposed changes as a win for NSW road users, the reality of course is very different. What the NSW Baird Liberal Government and the big insurance companies are hoping is that by telling you that you could save up to $100 a year on your green slip, that stripping the rights of injured motorists, passengers and pedestrians to further inflate insurance companies profits will go unnoticed. Is saving $100 worth the risk of losing the ability to support yourself and your family, through no fault of your own? The simple answer is no.

The NSW Baird Liberal Government has been vague in providing details about the changes that they propose to introduce in July 2017, however it is becoming increasingly clear that they will give the insurance companies the upper hand against the individual. For us, that does not pass the fairness test, especially as 85% – 90% of all injured motorists will lose their rights to proper compensation. Are you willing to risk your well being and livelihood to save $100? We invite you to read the stories below, published with the permission of our clients, that demonstrate how these changes, if introduced, could impact you or someone you love.

What are the proposed changes?

Anyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident and found to have been left with a whole person impairment of not greater than 10% by reason of the injuries sustained will not be entitled to recover any common law damages for their injuries. We know, as the NSW Baird Liberal Government does, that up to 90% of all people injured in car accidents will not achieve this threshold. In fact only people who suffer very serious if not horrendous injuries ever do. So not only persons who suffer minor or soft tissue injuries will be prejudiced but the overwhelming majority of persons injured in a car accident will not achieve the threshold and therefore not be entitled to recover proper damages for their injuries.

The NSW Baird Liberal Government is proposing to move to a no-fault scheme. That is, even the party who is at fault and caused the accident would be entitled to claim compensation for their injuries. Currently the common law provides that the party who is at fault for the accident cannot be compensated for their injuries. This means that if you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident, which was not your fault, the person that is at fault, either through their recklessness or neglect, cannot be compensated for their injuries. However, under the proposed changes such persons would also be able to claim compensation. Do you think this is fair?

Lump sum payments to innocent victims of motor vehicle accidents will be replaced by some pension type system where the injured will be drip fed and then cut off after 5 years regardless of how severe their injuries are and what the continuing impact of those injuries are on the person.

Victims of motor vehicle accidents will effectively be put into one of two categories. That is either a low severity injury category where they receive no proper compensation for their injuries or a very severely injured category. There will be nothing in between. This leaves the largest group of victims, those with moderately severe injuries with very few rights to access proper compensation.

Who is behind the changes?

The NSW Baird Liberal Government has been lobbied for many years by the big insurance companies to bring in these changes. Don’t take our word for it. Public records show that representatives of the big insurance companies have been meeting with the NSW Baird Liberal Government for quite some time about these proposed changes, even before the NSW Baird Liberal Government announced that there would be an enquiry into the scheme. What the NSW Baird Liberal Government is effectively doing is creating a further market for the insurers to sell additional policies of insurance. If these proposed changes come into force every NSW motorist who is not willing to run the risk of not being properly compensated if innocently injured in a motor vehicle accident will have to take out additional income protection or life insurance. And who is the winner as a result? The big insurance companies.

Why is the NSW Baird Liberal Government trying to introduce these changes?

The NSW Baird Liberal Government says that fraudulent and exaggerated claims account for $75 of every green slip premium paid by NSW motorists. Where do these figures come from? There is no definitive information available that supports the NSW Baird Liberal Government’s contention that up to $75 of the green slip premium is accounted for by fraudulent or exaggerated claims.

The NSW Baird Liberal Government also claims that the changes will result in a reduction in green slip premiums for each motor vehicle by up to $100. How can this be guaranteed? The NSW Baird Liberal Government has received no assurance whatsoever from the big insurance companies that there will in fact be a reduction in green slip premiums and if so, to what extent.

According to the NSW Baird Liberal Government’s own statistics and discussion paper “On the road to a better CTP scheme”, only 45% of all green slip premiums go to innocent victims of motor vehicle accidents by way of compensation. Where does the rest go? 3% goes to NSW Baird Liberal Government authorities by way of administration expenses. 18% goes to Legal and Investigation expenses. This includes legal costs incurred by both the innocently injured motorist as well as the insurance company. It also includes all court fees, medical report fees and other investigation costs. 15% goes to Insurer to cover its expenses in the administration of the policy and 19% goes to the Insurer by way of profit . That is, from every dollar paid by every motorist for green slip insurance the insurer receives 34 cents of that dollar. Imagine how much more of that pie the insurer will receive if the NSW Baird Liberal Government changes, which will of course lead to an increase in the insurers’ profits, are passed into law? That’s what the NSW Baird Liberal Government does not want you to know. That’s what the insurers are banking on.

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Information source: On the road to a better CTP scheme — Options for reforming Green Slip Insurance in NSW— NSW Baird Liberal Government

Surely reducing fraudulent claims and reducing premiums is good thing, right?

The NSW Baird Liberal Government claims that the proposed changes will reduce fraudulent behaviour in relation to motor vehicle accident claims and the NSW Baird Liberal Government has announced the formation of a CTP Fraud Taskforce to address this issue. We, like most people, welcome a zero tolerance approach to fraudulent compensation claims. It is in no one’s interests, (yes, including lawyers!) to pursue false, exaggerated or staged claims. This is something that Brydens Lawyers abhors and would never condone. There is no doubt that those who set out to do the wrong thing are in a minority and, hopefully, nearly always will be discovered. However, the proposed changes, as they are, will end up punishing the vast majority of innocently injured motorists who do the right thing and are genuinely in need of compensation to help them get through what would probably be the most stressful time in their lives.

How these changes affect you and your family?

At first glance the proposed changes sound like a win for NSW motorists and their families — but it is not. Everyone that owns a motor vehicle in NSW is required to hold a green slip as part of the registration of that vehicle. However, not every motorist in NSW is required to hold income protection or life insurance. Do you? Is saving up to $100 a year really going to cover the cost of the additional insurance that you will require in order to ensure that you are adequately protected in the event of a motor vehicle accident? Of course not. The proposed changes create a significant gap in the level of cover between that which you currently enjoy under your green slip policy of insurance and what will be the situation if the NSW Baird Liberal Government is allowed to make the changes it has proposed.

It is all starting to make a bit more sense as to why the insurers are pushing for these changes, isn’t it?

What the NSW Baird Liberal Government and the insurers are not telling you is that if these changes are made there is no guarantee that the green slip premium will in fact reduce at all, let alone by up to $100. In fact there is no guarantee that there will be any reduction in the years ahead. If that is the case then we will have a situation where your level of cover in the event that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident has been slashed by these proposed changes and you will still be paying the same for green slip premiums as you always have.

What is the point of all of this but to ensure that the insurers continue to make extraordinary profits?

It is not just your own hip pocket that will be hit with these changes, it is the wider community. Our tax dollars are already stretched supporting struggling welfare systems such as Centrelink and the public health system. The proposed changes with a pension style type of payment plan will only add significant burden to these systems. Innocently injured victims of motor vehicle accidents will have to look to Centrelink and/or the public health system to ensure that they receive the most basic level of cover. Who will be paying for the soaring costs of these additional welfare services? Not the big insurers, it will be, as always, the taxpayer.

How can I protect myself and my family from these changes?

If you are not prepared to take the risk of being able to protect yourself and your family, then you must oppose these unfair and biased changes that the NSW Baird Liberal Government is proposing to make. The NSW Baird Liberal Government needs to be aware that NSW motorists are not prepared to lose their current rights and that they will not stand for innocent victims of motor vehicle accidents becoming collateral damage in the big insurers’ push for further profits.

To oppose these changes, voice your objection directly to the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Mike Baird. Your opposition to the proposed changes should be made known to Premier Baird in writing. You can write to him at the following address:

The Hon. Mike Baird, MP
Shop 2
2 Wentworth Street MANLY NSW 2095

Or email the Premier directly in his electoral office in Manly at manlv@parliament.nsw.gov.au

The Premier and the NSW Baird Liberal Government must be made aware that the residents of NSW will fight for what is fair and are not prepared to sell their peace of mind for $100.

You can also make your voice heard in opposing these changes by signing the change.org petition, which can be found here:

GREEN SLIP FAIRNESS FAIL – SIGN THE PETITION NOW

As any of us can only hope that ourselves or a loved one, never have to encounter the huge amounts of pain, stress and uncertainty that results in being the victim of a motor vehicle accident and if you are not prepared to run the risk of not being able to look after yourself or your family then join us in opposing the changes proposed by the NSW Baird Liberal Government and protect 90% of innocent victims that the NSW Baird Liberal Government wants to leave behind, on the wrong side of the road.

 

CASE STUDIES:

Garry’s Story, 8% WPI, severe crush injury

Melissa’s Story – 5% WPI, spinal injury

Maria’s Story – 8% WPI, hip injury

Peter’s Story – 21 % WPI, severe injury