Motorists set to save says MP

MEMBER for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams has welcomed proposed reforms to the NSW Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme, saying they will save motorists around 15 per cent on their green slip.

However the response has not been so positive from other corners, with the Australian Lawyers Association (ALA) saying the proposed reforms will “strip rights away from innocent accident victims”.

An overhaul of the CTP scheme was a recommendation of a review by the NSW Motor Accidents Authority, which found NSW had the least affordable scheme in Australia.

Currently motorists in NSW are paying, on average, $500 a year for CTP insurance which is up to $260 higher than other states, while injured people are waiting years to receive benefits.

“For too long NSW motorists have had to pay more than their counterparts in other states and have had to wait for too long to receive benefits if they are injured in an accident,” Mrs Williams said.

She said the system was also inefficient with less than 50 cents from every dollar in premiums actually going to injured people.

“In-built costs usually result in lawyers and medical experts receiving more than those injured, especially in small disputes,” Mrs Williams said.

Under the state government’s proposed green slip changes, the cost of an average CTP premium would be reduced by 15 per cent with payments to those injured in an accident starting within four weeks of a claim.

“By introducing a ‘no fault’ scheme, the emphasis will be on ensuring that all injured people are eligible for benefits, regardless of who is at fault,” Mrs Williams said.

“This type of system has worked well in other states like Victoria.”

President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) Jnana Gumbert said the proposed changes to the scheme would slash the badly needed compensation that accident victims currently receive.

“The minister has cut benefits from the innocent victims of accidents in order to pay benefits to those who cause acccidents,” she said.

”Why should the innocent victim of an accident have to sacrifice their rights so that the driver who caused the accident can get compensation,” she asked.

She also said the proposed changes meant that accident victims wouldn’t be given legal assistance.

“The MAA’s own internal studies show that unrepresented claimants receive less compensation than those who are legally represented,” she said.

“That’s hardly surprising considering that insurance companies have highly experienced claims officers and lawyers handling cases. It’s just not fair to expect injured people to battle big insurance companies by themselves.”

Ms Gumbert rejected claims lawyers were making more money out of the scheme than the people they represent.

She said 50 per cent went to the injured, 5 per cent to their lawyers and 35 per cent to the insurers – 16 per cent for their costs and 19 per cent in profit.

Mrs Williams is encouraging local residents to review the plan and to comment.

Further information on the proposed changes can be viewed at www.maa.nsw.gov.au

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