It may be a classic children’s fairy tale, but in the context of Queensland’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme, the recent scheme insights published by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) shows that the Tortoise and the Hare story is more than just fiction.
To be fair to all concerned, it needs to be acknowledged that Queensland’s CTP scheme is the poster-child of Australian CTP insurance. According to the MAIC, during the past five years, it has delivered 66% of revenue in claimant benefits – well above the best practice benchmark of 60%: all kudos to MAIC for administering such an efficient scheme.
This is a great result for claimants who, on the whole, are receiving more money in their back pocket after experiencing an unfortunate incident that may have left them with more than just medical bills. But on closer inspection of the CTP Scheme Insights Report Q3 2020*– I feel we should be asking one more question (after taking in the good news headline spruiking a preservation of affordability, fairness and efficiency) which is: Why is it taking our biggest insurer so bloody long to settle these claims?
When you look at the split between insurers in the MAIC report, Suncorp remains the holder of the largest market share at between 45% and 47%. Allianz sits between 27% and 28%, whilst QBE has 7% or 8%. RACQ make up the difference with 17% to 20%.
But when you look at the next chart, the figures show there is quite a difference in the timing of resolutions. The timeframe to settlement shows Suncorp is taking longer than any of the other insurers to resolve claims. Where RACQ takes 15.1 months to finalise a claim, Suncorp takes 21.2 months. On the other hand, Allianz is taking 19 months and QBE, 16.5 months. So on face value it appears Suncorp is a, albeit rather large, tortoise. And if the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 sets out one of its objects to “encourage the speedy resolution of personal injury claims resulting from motor vehicle accidents”, then isn’t it time that we seek to understand why Suncorp takes so long?
In recent experiences with Suncorp, I’ve noticed they have been quick to make contact with clients to assess their rehabilitation needs and this is commendable. However, why should people who have had the misfortune of being injured in a car that is CTP insured by Suncorp, have to wait such a long time to receive compensation for a no-fault-of-their-own accident?
I don’t mean to cause offence, but a cynic might ask questions as to why the biggest of the ‘Big Three’ is taking almost two years to assess a claim, count the beans and make a sensible offer. In my experience, claimants are genuine and deserving in a majority of cases – so why make all of them wait so long to be compensated for their loss?
From a claimant’s perspective, having an average time from notification of the claim until settlement of 21 months is entirely unacceptable. When you consider that this is not the time from the date of the accident to settlement but rather, from when the claim form is lodged until settlement, it probably means that claimants who have to deal with Suncorp are likely waiting closer to two years from the date of the accident to when their claim is resolved. To add to the insult, it is then on average, a further four months from the claim resolution until it’s finalised with a payment.
If smaller insurers like RACQ and QBE can manage to wipe almost six months off this process for their claimants, then surely the larger organisations with more resources can do better?
If the aura of our golden-haired scheme is to continue, we need all stakeholders to comply with both the letter and spirit of the legislation.
So perhaps Suncorp is Aesop’s overconfident hare in this story who could learn a lesson. And good Queenslander motorists out there: there’s one for you too – maybe bigger is not always better?
For more information on Queensland’s CTP scheme and frequently asked questions, visit:
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