The New South Wales Baird Liberal Government is proposing changes to the motor accident scheme to take effect on 1 July 2017 which will have the effect of removing up to 90% of all people injured in motor vehicle accidents from having access to common law damages. Yet another example of a government pandering to the insurance industry. Accordingly every motorist will now have to give consideration to having top-up income protection or life insurance to ensure that they have adequate cover in the event that they are injured in a motor vehicle accident and unable to work. Many motorists will be unable to afford the very high premiums that will be sought by insurance companies to top up the deficiency in their green slip cover and therefore these people will have to rely upon the insurance benefits that are available under their superannuation policy. This would include an entitlement to claim benefits for total and permanent disablement (TPD), if they are covered for same.

Brydens Lawyers are the experts in the bringing of TPD claims on behalf of injured persons who are unable to work either because of illness or injury.

In order to claim a TPD benefit the worker would need to establish that they have been off work for at least three or six consecutive months and that they are unlikely to ever be able to return to an occupation for which they are reasonably suited by education, training and experience.

Worryingly we are starting to see life insurers respond to judicial interpretation of TPD claims by amending the generic TPD definition in their policies so as to make it virtually impossible for a worker to satisfy them and claim TPD benefits. A number of insurers have adopted this course. They have sought to introduce a much higher threshold needed to be satisfied by the worker before any entitlement to a TPD benefit can be established. This change in approach by insurers must also be considered in the context of the drastic changes that have already been made to the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme such that many injured workers are now required to participate in vocational rehabilitation programs and return to work at least 15 hours per week after 2% years absence in order to ensure continuing receipt of weekly benefits. Those workers who have been forced to return to work in order to ensure a continuing workers compensation benefit may deny themselves a TPD benefit as a result of being forced back into the workforce.

The Government has done what it can to make it incredibly hard for injured workers to recover proper compensation and is looking to do the same to injured motorists. The insurance industry are doing what they can to ensure that those who are injured or suffer illness which results in an inability to work will also have a very difficult time in recovering a TPD benefit.

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