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New code protects ACC claimants’ rights

New code protects ACC claimants’ rights

The rights of ACC claimants have been enshrined in a new code, approved by the government after extensive consultation, ACC Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

Ms Dyson said the Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights spelt out ACC’s commitment to high standards of service and fairness in eight claimants’ rights, including the right to be treated with dignity and respect, to be treated fairly and have their views considered, and to be fully informed.

“These rights are designed to meet claimants’ reasonable expectations every time they contact ACC, whether by phone, letter or face-to-face. Each right is accompanied by specific obligations on ACC to ensure the rights are met.”

Ruth Dyson said the code was designed to restore confidence in ACC, which had been weakened during the 1990s when the National Government slashed levies, removed lump sum payments and limited rehabilitation.

She said the spirit of the code was as important as the specific obligations.

“ACC handles 1.4 million claims a year. The code recognises that a positive relationship between claimants and ACC staff, built on mutual respect, is essential if ACC is to achieve its primary focus of helping injured people to make the best possible recovery and receive fair compensation.”

The code comes into effect in February 2003. It sets out a detailed complaints procedure, starting with a commitment from ACC to resolve issues as they arise at the local level.

Ms Dyson said that, at any point, a claimant could lodge a complaint that would be fully investigated.

“When a breach of the code has occurred, the complaints service can direct ACC to undertake a number of remedies, including a written or oral apology, meeting with the claimant to resolve the issue, or providing interpretation services. If a claimant is not satisfied with the decision, they can seek an independent review.”

Ruth Dyson said the code was in addition to all existing claimants’ rights, and covered the way ACC delivered services. “It is important for claimants to realise that the code is about their relationship with ACC. It does not cover decisions about entitlements, compensation, or treatment for their injury, which will continue to be dealt with under the provisions of the Injury Prevention Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001.”

Ms Dyson said the Privacy Commissioner and Office of the Ombudsmen could still be asked to investigate matters relating to ACC’s interaction with claimants after the code came into effect.

“However, I would like to think that the code, and the underlying commitment to build positive relationships, will help claimants to resolve difficulties with ACC without the need for outside intervention.”

The Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights as been developed as a requirement under section 44 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001. It comes into effect on 1 February 2003.

Copies of The Code of ACC Claimants’ Rights are available from ACC, PO Box 242, Wellington, or on the website acc.org.nz/claimscare

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