Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 145..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
access to the scheme, claim procedures, costs of the scheme, insurer licensing and behaviour and, of course, premiums.
The amendments I present to the Assembly today relate to claims procedures following motor accidents, principally claims procedures arising out of motor vehicle accidents where the vehicle whose driver caused the accident is uninsured or the accident victim cannot identify the vehicle that caused the accident.
The ACT is unique in a number of respects. Because the way CTP is collected is a seamless part of the registration process, there are very few uninsured vehicles. However, there are some. There are also, for example, hit-and-run incidents where a victim may not be able to identify the vehicle. The consequence of those situations is that there is no CTP insurer to sue. If the insurer cannot be sued, it is necessary to provide a compensation pathway in order that injured motor accident victims can access the CTP scheme and be compensated for their injuries.
That mechanism is the nominal defendant, a statutory entity created to act as a defendant or respondent in such cases. The nominal defendant in the ACT is the ACT Insurance Authority. Previously, it was a named individual but claims were administered by NRMA Insurance, the sole CTP provider in the ACT.
As I indicated, there are few uninsured vehicles in the ACT. In the ACT there are between 10 and 30 nominal defendant claims per year, out of a total of 970 to 1,100 CTP claims. Nominal defendant claims are not, therefore, a large portion of CTP claims. For example, there are only 80 outstanding claims against the nominal defendant, some of which date back to almost the date of territory self-government. On the other hand, nominal defendant claims are currently valued at approximately $10 million. That cost affects the premiums that all insured motorists pay; thus claims against the nominal defendant must be regulated as part of the overall CTP scheme.
Now I turn to the substance of the act and the amending provisions in the bill I introduce today. Much has been said in this place and elsewhere about the old CTP law and the inherent costs, inefficiencies and delays that plagued the old scheme. As members will be aware, the act seeks to provide for streamlined procedures that permit accident victims to access insurer-funded medical treatment immediately and therefore to expect their compensation claims to be handled expeditiously.
In the case of nominal defendant claims, there was a particular problem under the old law and that problem arose because the claims were administered by NRMA Insurance in the same way they administered all other insured CTP claims and, because it was the sole insurer, claims became commingled. However, there were claims-filing deadlines under the old law that applied to nominal defendant claims but there was no evidence available to the government that showed whether those time limits had ever been enforced by NRMA Insurance.
Consequently, the government sought to bring necessary order to nominal defendant claims. The act appointed a new nominal defendant, the ACT Insurance Authority. The authority is already the default insurer for uninsured workers compensation claims and there was a natural and efficient fit for it to handle uninsured motor