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‘Volume and complexity’ behind underpayments, says icare

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NSW state insurer icare says the “sheer volume” of information required by legislation and the complexity of calculations was behind the errors in pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE) paid to many workers.

Insurers were also required to assess and commence provisional weekly payments within seven days of being notified of an injury. That short timeframe meant initial payments were often based on incomplete information and in many cases were later recalculated and payments adjusted.

“Employers found it difficult to provide insurers with the required data and information to determine PIAWE, and insurers were only able to pay an injured workers' weekly payment based on the information provided to them by employers,” icare says.

The insurer is now inviting injured workers in the state to come forward and seek assessment if they believe they were underpaid. The request applies to NSW workers who received weekly workers' compensation payments from 2012-2019.

Of around 3000 claim files reviewed, roughly a quarter were potentially underpaid.

The calculation of PIAWE is used to determine the amount of weekly benefit payments paid for a work-related injury while the recipient is unable to work, as part of a workers' compensation claim in NSW.

In September last year, the NSW Government published amendments to the PIAWE regulations intended to reduce the complexity of these determinations.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) required that icare repay any underpaid workers. An independent review of icare’s culture, governance and accountability is now underway and the icare board has also established a new committee on corporate governance.