Early treatment jury’s priority for new CTP insurance scheme

Canberra’s citizen jurors have called for a no-fault compulsory third party insurance scheme that would cover anyone injured in crash in the ACT.

The jurors also want a scheme that would allow car crash victims access to treatment and rehabilitation sooner.

Participants in the ACT’s first exercise in deliberative democracy voted on the weekend for their top priorities for a new CTP insurance scheme.

Eighty-four per cent said early access was at least an eight-out-of-10 priority, while 82 per cent said equitable cover for everyone injured in crashes was at least an eight-out-of-10 priority.

Modelling from Ernst and Young showed a no-fault scheme with full benefits for treatment  and loss of earnings would add between $50 and $100 to the cost of CTP insurance.

However a report said the jurors were “shocked at the slow delivery times to receive financial assistance and the adverse impact that this has on people’s recovery and ability to return to normalcy”.

They were shown research that showed early access to compensation improved medical and rehabilitation outcomes.

“Early access also decreases secondary victimisation such as stress and economic uncertainty, allowing people’s lives to continue as normally as possible despite their accident,” their report said.

“This would remove the incentive to delay treatment and rehabilitation to maximise a lump sum payment and may help make the culture of the scheme more people and wellness-focused.”

The jury believed giving patients earlier acess to treatment would reduce long-term medical costs and improve the efficiency of the scheme.

They believed increasing the efficiency of the scheme could help it cover more people.

The jury was moved by evidence where witnesses were force to wait years for compensation as insurance companies and lawyers fought about who was at fault.  

 “We propose to cover, in an equitable manner, any persons injured as a result as of a motor vehicle accident in the ACT,” the report said.

“Everyone, regardless of whether at-fault or not-at-fault, should be covered in terms of health care and treatment.”

The jury said the scheme should recognise non-wage and carer responsibilities.

However they said compensation for lost earnings should be capped at a defined amount. 

The Ernst and Young modelling showed if the ACT adopted a scheme that capped loss of earning benefits, like Victoria, it would add between $30 and $65 to the cost of CTP insurance. A limited benefits scheme like NSW would add between $20 and $30.

The jury was also concerned that early access to compensation could reduce the accuracy of injury assessment and would fail to take into account injury deterioration.

Surveys provided to the jury revealed members of the community were also keen to move towards a no fault or hybrid common law system.

Actuarial modelling of hybrid models showed restricting access to general damages to more serious injuries like the NSW and Victorian schemes could save between $75 and $125.

By using common law options for general damages and loss of earnings and defined benefits for treatment and care, it could save between $40 and $70. 

Only allowing access to common law options for loss of earnings and more serious claims could save between $150 and $250.

However the last two options would need a largely administrative dispute resolution system for treatment and care.