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NSW expands insurance regulatory body and injury compensation laws

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The NSW parliament has passed changes to existing motor accident and worker compensation laws to increase coverage for victims, and has strengthened the State Insurance Regulatory Authority’s (SIRA) jurisdiction.

The Motor Accidents and Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 was passed on June 8, covering a wide range of areas with volunteers and children of fatal workplace accident victims receiving additional support.

Volunteer firefighters, SES volunteers, surf lifesavers, marine rescue, and volunteer rescue association workers will now be able to access cover similar to paid workers.

These assurances give volunteers access to provisional acceptance of liability, cover for funeral-related expenses, and reduced costs for returning to work with a new employer and education.

The amendments provide children of people killed in workplace accidents increased funds associated with the state guardian and trustee, who manages their sum until they turn 18.

The bill also includes several changes to compulsory third party (CTP) schemes to ensure that motor vehicle accident victims can have their benefits fairly and correctly assessed.

Victims who receive higher incomes in the 12 months prior to their accident will be able to have their higher salary reflected in the calculations of their statutory benefits while also considering their earnings post-accident.

Injured people living overseas will have increased access to benefits while modifications were also made to clearly define circumstances surrounding no-fault accidents and accidents involving drivers from interstate.

Taxi and hire vehicles will now be mandated to provide information to SIRA or their CTP insurer to ensure that their premiums accurately reflect costs.

Further changes allow SIRA to act against health service providers that continuously engage in patterns that deliver adverse outcomes to injured parties.

With stricter guidelines to be set, SIRA says it will increase transparency on insurer performances to ensure that providers are compliant with regulations.

“The policy outlines the types of information I will make publicly available, including the imposition of insurer licence conditions, improvement notices, and more details about our investigations,” SIRA CEO Adam Dent said.

“I expect that greater transparency around SIRA’s regulatory activity will strengthen deterrence and drive improved outcomes for customers as a result.”

Mr Dent says it will provide information on insurer activity through media statements, web articles, and quarterly regulatory updates.

“More than 110,000 people make claims on the NSW workers compensation, motor accidents and home building compensation insurance schemes each year. It’s important that they understand how regulated entities and the schemes are performing.”