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NSW reviews icare workers' comp scheme

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The NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has invited submissions to an independent review of workers’ compensation arrangements managed by Insurance and Care NSW (icare).

The compliance and performance review is being undertaken by Janet Dore, a former Victorian Transport Accident Commission CEO and independent member of the SIRA compulsory third party premium committee.

She will be supported by scheme actuaries Ernst and Young and SIRA officers. The review was commissioned earlier this year and has now reached the public consultation phase.

The Nominal Insurer scheme managed by icare, which accounts for about 65% of total active claims in the state’s workers compensation system, has been criticised by businesses and brokers for its performance.

“Given its dominance within the NSW market, the success of the Nominal Insurer is critical to the success of the NSW workers’ compensation system,” the review consultation paper says.

National Insurance Brokers Association (NIBA) CEO Dallas Booth says his organisation has received a consistent number of concerns relating to the system’s management and operation.

“The review will enable these matters to be carefully assessed against the scheme’s overall objectives,” he told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“Our other concern is that there is relatively limited information made available regarding the overall financial performance of the Nominal Insurer, and we believe it will be important for the review to look at the financial and funding position of the scheme, as well as its day-to-day operations.”

NIBA will be working with members to make a submission and has encouraged brokers to provide their positive and negative experiences to the review.

icare says it is always supportive of reviews of the system and looks forward to receiving the findings and the report in due course.

“Reviews are standard practice and part of our regulatory environment,” a spokeswoman told insuranceNEWS.com.au. “It is an opportunity to display our successes and progress in transforming the scheme since icare’s formation.

“We have been providing information to the independent review in response to all requests. SIRA has now invited submissions from external parties.”

The NSW Business Council, which last year called for an urgent inquiry, says the review provides an important opportunity to address concerns.

“We have received many reports from businesses across NSW complaining of poor administration when it comes to workers’ compensation,” CEO Stephen Cartwright said.

“These include a lack of appropriate checking of claims, lengthy delays and poor advice and support for both employers and employees.”

The review will include the work undertaken on icare’s behalf by its agents EML, Allianz and GIO.

In 2017 icare selected EML as its sole workers’ compensation agent for new claims, starting this year. CGU and QBE ceased services in 2017, while GIO and Allianz continued as transition agents.

A SIRA spokeswoman says the review is intended to assess and address matters identified through regulatory activities.

“This includes claims management, data quality, premium setting, return to work rates and customer feedback,” she told insuranceNEWS.com.au

The public consultation period will close on June 14, with the report to be published at a date to be determined later in the year.

The discussion paper is available here.