Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Queensland needs regulated at-fault driver personal injury insurance

Sorry for the serious title, but this is a serious issue.

I work, and despite trying to wriggle out of it, still work, in the community sector and in brain injury.

I am currently, as a result of a report I am writing for job no. 2, skimming through the add-on at-fault driver protection schemes that most of Queensland's licensed Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurers include with their CTP schemes as an incentive to get more customers.

CTP is automatically attached to vehicle registration, and it covers personal injury, up to and including permanent disability or death. As the medical expenses alone could run over a million dollars for a serious accident, this is a good thing, no matter how much it stings to have to pay half of your registration as compulsory insurance.

The thing is, Queensland (and most of the other states in Australia) have an at-fault scheme - if you were judged to have caused the accident which maimed you, you can fucking well pay your own medical and rehabilitation or care costs.

Which has resulted in the most extraordinary drain on the publicly funded disability support system, and far too many cases of family breakdown as families try to cope with long-term disability resulting from drunken street-racing or simple lapse of concentration.

Which is why the CTP insurers tack-on an at-fault cover, with payouts ranging from laughably inadequate to just about reasonable.

But they all limit themselves to physical, sensory or spinal cord injury. They specifically exclude, all of them, psychiatric illness or psychological disorders. And none of them even make any mention, exclusionary or otherwise, of brain injury. This is the bit that ticks me off. In the Civil Liability Regulation (Qld) 2003, Schedule 4 lists each category of injury covered by regulated, at-fault, CTP. And not only does it list brain injury, it lists Extreme, Serious, Moderate and Minor brain injury. Ditto for mental disorder.

What's going on here? Are they drawing an arbitrary line in the sand to cut costs? Are they counting on community ignorance of the appalling, debilitating effects of brain injury and quietly ignoring the issue? Or is brain injury, with its potential to demand lifetime care costs that make simple quadriplegia pale into insignificance, such a huge cost that they're running scared?

For added hypocrisy value, Suncorp Metway Insurance are a commercial partner of YoungCare, a new and very high-profile provider of 5-star (I'm not joking) age-appropriate (well, kind of) long-term high-care accommodation for young people with brain injury and other debilitating conditions. YoungCare advertised strongly on the brain injury issue. Suncorp appear to be refusing to acknowledge their client group.

Shame, Suncorp, shame, and shame on the rest of you as well.

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