Canberra’s CTP insurance scheme could be better with small changes: experts

Two experts who will give evidence before the ACT compulsory third party insurance scheme citizen jury say the territory’s existing system could be improved with minor tweaks.

Canberra’s citizen jurors will hear from lawyers, academics and actuaries in the second stage of the deliberative democracy pilot this weekend. 

The jury met for the first time earlier this month, where they were given a crash course in CTP insurance and heard from legal groups, insurers and healthcare consumer associations about pros and cons of different schemes.

Jurors will this weekend be presented with modelling from Ernst and Young of different schemes based on other jurisdictions

They will also hear about the trade-offs associated with different schemes. 

Monash senior lecturer Dr Genevieve Grant, whose research focuses on how people navigate the complex claims processes, said some schemes were more intimidating than others. 

The ACT’s common law system typically meant people needed legal advice from the outset, Dr Grant said, whereas in other schemes people could take those early steps on their own. 

However, Dr Grant said moving to a no-fault scheme was not a better solution.

“It’s not just a choice between no-fault and fault-based schemes,’ Dr Grant said.

“Sometimes people think no-fault schemes mean no disputes or fights, and everything is straightforward.

“Whatever the scheme design there are opportunities to do things better and opportunities to do things less well.”

Dr Grant said there was scope within the ACT’s current scheme to give people more advice and support within the early stages of making a claim and show them what steps they needed to take. 

Barrister Andrew Stone said the ACT had the “best scheme in the country in terms of compensating victims”.

“The two big trade-offs are premium versus benefits and fault versus no-fault,” Mr Stone said.

“In terms of premiums the ACT has one of more expensive but it also looks after accident victims better than any other state.

“If I knew I going to be in motor vehicle accident and had to pick a state to be injured in, I’d pick the ACT.”

Mr Stone said the cost-savings of a capped scheme were “small” compared to the “catastrophic” consequences of being underinsured.

​He said no-fault schemes in workers’ compensation had “stuffed” people who could not return to work because of their injuries. 

“​We all live in a state of denial that it could be us, so it’s about persuading the majority to design a scheme to look after a small minority on basis it might be you, your partner, or your child,” Mr Stone said.

“If it’s a no-fault scheme, where you look after everybody including people who cause accidents, then you have to look after everyone less well, you double the number of people you’re making payments to and if you want to do it on the same premium you’re effectively halving the benefits.

“It would cost over $1000 a premium to provide no-fault benefits at the current rate.”

Meanwhile Canberra lawyers are continuing their crusade to prevent changes to the existing CTP scheme.

A spokeswoman for ACTCTP.org said more than $55,000 had been spent on radio and print advertisements as well as their website.