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SIRA seeks feedback on COVID cost-sharing proposal

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The NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) is seeking feedback on plans to spread COVID-19 workers’ compensation costs across the state scheme amid concerns that they may become significant if claims volumes are high.

The ongoing risks from the pandemic and uncertain long-term health impacts of COVID-19 make it difficult to estimate the ultimate cost of COVID-19 claims, while SIRA says it is also difficult to predict which employers and insurers will be the most impacted by work-related infections.

“This is exacerbated by the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and the possibility of asymptomatic individuals unknowingly spreading the virus,” it says.

“In this sense, all NSW workers are exposed to some risks of contracting COVID-19 in the course of their employment, and all workers and employers will benefit from these risks being managed at a whole-of-scheme level.”

A similar approach is already used for workers who contract a dust disease, and while it has never been used, the law also provides for the claims arising from terrorism to be managed at a scheme level.

Changes to the Workers' Compensation Act in May included a “rebuttable presumption” that people in prescribed employment who contracted COVID-19 were infected by the virus in the course of their work.

SIRA is seeking feedback on a consultation paper on the proposal by 5pm on December 18.

More details are available here.