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3 June 2005

LCA Report Reveals Insurer Profits Have Hit a 10-Year High – So Where are the Benefits?

Profits made by Australian insurers are at a ten-year high and it is time to pass the benefits on to injured Australians, a forum in Sydney was told today.

Data revealed at the Law Council's Personal Injury and Compensation Forum suggests that insurers have made more profit in the last six months than at any other time during the past decade.

Independent actuary Richard Cumpston's survey of insurer profitability concludes that the profits of insurers appear high enough to allow better benefits for the injured, particularly those most harshly affected by recent legislative changes.

Reflecting on the findings, Law Council President John North said, "It's got to the point, because of the limits on compensation, where we continue to pay for insurance but receive less and inadequate cover."

"Something needs to be done. Balance must be restored to personal injury laws so that they are fairer to Australians injured as the result of negligence," he said.

The Law Council's Personal Injury and Compensation Forum provides a unique opportunity for those interested or engaged in the fight for better compensation rights, to exchange information and participate in debate on this hot topic.

"We have long had concerns about the loss of compensation rights and the effect on people who have been injured through another's negligence," Mr North said.

He said reforms to negligence laws were compromising the three primary objectives of compensation, which are: fair recompense for people injured through fault; promotion of safety and risk management; and a just allocation of responsibility among wrongdoers.

Mr North also identified a number of arbitrary restrictions on compensation, including thresholds on compensation for pain and suffering, which he described as a "particularly ugly weed" in a forest of restrictions.

"When people are injured, they have real pain and inconvenience – they often can't do the everyday things that make life worthwhile," he said.

The President of the Law Society of NSW, John McIntyre, also spoke. He welcomed the initiative of the Law Council in holding the forum.

"The independent research by Richard Cumpston provides dramatic proof of what the Law Society has been saying for some time. The changes to compensation laws made in this state have gone too far in favour of the insurers who are benefiting massively at the expense of people injured in the workplace, on the roads and elsewhere," Mr McIntyre said.

Other speakers included Ms Gaye Tombs, the widow of Corporal Brett Tombs, who died in the 1996 Black Hawk helicopter disaster. Ms Tombs spoke about her experiences as an accident claimant.
Media Contact: Elenore Eriksson,
Director Public Affairs - 02 6246 3716/0419 269 855

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