Victorian Community Insurance Scheme Optimistic
Monday, 26th May 2003 at 1:05 pm
Over eight hundred Victorian community organisations are anxiously awaiting the response from International brokers to the Victorian Government’s recently announced insurance reforms which could save their scheme according to the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).
MAV President, Cr Brad Matheson says the groups are cautiously optimistic that the international insurance brokers will now see Victoria as a more attractive public liability insurance market after the reforms were announced last week.
The MAV introduced a public liability insurance scheme last year enabling hundreds of community groups across the state to participate in a group-buying scheme attached to councils’ own insurance policies.
Cr. Matheson says however the scheme was set to fold because Victoria was lagging behind all the other states in introducing tort reform.
He says the 807 participating members of the scheme have paid $700,000 in insurance premiums and made no claims to date but the insurance companies warned that rising pay-outs meant it is no longer viable for them to act as re-insurers to the community scheme.
The re-insurance for the scheme runs out on 30 June 2003 and the insurers, in both London and New York, are examining the Bracks Government’s reform package.
Cr Matheson says all other states had already undertaken tort law reform, which enabled community groups in those states to obtain public liability insurance.
He says the scheme was established as a safety net to cover community groups and events across Victoria and Tasmania, including regional festivals, historical societies and senior citizen clubs that were being hit with skyrocketing insurance premiums.
The group insurance scheme was developed through an alliance between the Bracks Government, the Municipal Association of Victoria, ourcommunity.com and a leading broking firm, Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT). The pooled product is available to many segments in the community sector including arts and cultural, conservation and heritage, recreational, youth groups, festivals and disability groups.
Victorian Premier Steve Bracks says the new laws will reduce the period under which a person can make a claim for damages from six years to three years for adults, with the time limit starting from the moment the injury was diagnosed.
The period for a person under 18 to make a claim would be six years from the time of diagnosis.
The Premier says personal injury claims would now be subject to a “long-stop period”, which meant claims would be barred unless people obtained permission to sue from the courts.
He says he’s confident the new laws will stabilise the cost of insurance premiums and would allow sporting clubs, tourism operators and doctors to obtain affordable cover as well as encourage new participants to Victorian insurance markets.
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