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icare aims to improve return to work rates

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NSW state insurer icare has pledged to work closely with partners to improve return to work under its workers’ compensation scheme.

Recently published data shows that as of July 31, the return to work rate after 26 weeks had fallen to 79%.

“We have experienced challenges embedding our new operational model, including achieving the right scale with our new claims partner,” icare says in a statement. “This has had a negative impact on the RTW rate since January 2018.”

The data also shows liability decision timeliness is at 97% within seven days – above the target of 95%.

The total number of active claims has remained “relatively stable” since January last year, with an average of 38,000 to 40,000 active claims each month.

There has been “some growth” in claim payments this year, driven by growth of the nominal insurer, quicker payment of weekly benefits and a decline in return to work.

“In the 2017 and 2018 calendar years, we paid on average $61 million per month for weekly benefits and have paid an average of $70 million per month for the 2019 calendar year-to-date,” icare says.

“Medical costs continue to put pressure on claims servicing costs and, on average, have gone up by 40% since 2015.”

The scheme is subject to an ongoing independent review by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority. A final report is expected before the end of the year.