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Why rush ACC changes?


MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release

22 December 99


Why rush ACC changes?

Ross Chapman, Managing Director of HIH Insurance, one of the major insurers in the workplace compensation market, today expressed his disappointment at moves by the Government to rush through legislation to nationalise workplace compensation.

"Why the haste to do this when the Labour Market Policy Group (LMPG) in the Department of Labour is currently undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the competitive workplace market?" Mr Chapman asked.

"In a very short time we will have hard facts about the New Zealand experience. We can then objectively assess how we are doing. And it will mean not having to rely on comparisons with other countries, which can, and have been, misrepresented."

If ACC is saying it is now able to match the lower premiums and the quality of service offered by companies like HIH Insurance, why could it not do so before?

"The ACC had a dismal record in workplace accident prevention, proactive injury management and early rehabilitation and early return to work. These are areas that HIH place critical importance on and, ultimately, are of far greater importance than simple price issues," Ross Chapman said.

HIH and other industry representatives met with key Government ministers on the 15 December. At that meeting assurances were given that the industry was willing to work closely with the Government on any reform.

"The Government does not have to be a monopoly service provider to meet the social and economic objectives of the accident insurance scheme. It can play a key responsible role in establishing the benefits, standards and monitoring performance of all parties in the system."

Who wants the change back and who, ultimately, will benefit from returning to a monopoly provider?

"We are now seeing employers focusing on workplace prevention, injury management and rehabilitation, which was not a key focus under ACC.

Has the level of disputes risen under the new model?

"There have been minimal instances of disputes, contrary to the previous ACC record. In fact, HIH has only had two external reviews and both these decisions have been upheld," said Ross Chapman.

Have benefits or entitlements been reduced under the new system?

"Statutory benefits and entitlements have remained essentially the same as were available under the old system. However, employers are now starting to provide additional benefits over the statutory cover.

"Our shared objectives with key stakeholders are for a financially viable, affordable and responsible, 24 hour, comprehensive, no-fault system that delivers benefits to employers and injured workers, and that is exactly what we have now," said Mr Chapman.

"We look forward to being able to play a constructive role in the Select Committee process given that the benefits of choice and competition are delivering and can continue to encourage greater injury prevention and rehabilitation."

Ends

For further information contact:
Ross Chapman
Managing Director
HIH Insurance
Tel: (09) 379 7697
Mobile: 021 965 303

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