Beware the Accident Corporatisation Castration

Don’t have an accident if National leads the next government!

Now, I know that sems a weird thing to say, but you will need to be ultra-cautious if there is a National-led governemnt, becasue their policy will mean you will likely be declined ACC cover and either have to battle them through the courts or foot the treatment and rehabilitation bills yourself.

I say this as someone with considerable experience in this area. For much of the 1990s and the first three years of this decade I worked as an advocate for ACC claimants, representing them at reviews and District Court appeals.

Now ACC staff have, since the early 1990s, had the “my job is to save the Corporation money” ethic instilled into them. Hence there are lots of decisions that are wrong in law, although it has gradually improved over the last 8 years.

But from my experience of working as an ACC claimant advocate, the time accident compensation plumbed the depths of malfeasance was during the brief period 1999-2000 when the last National Government privatised workplace accident insurance.

There are two ways that private insurers can minimise cost and deliver a return to their shareholders. The first is to engage in injury prevention. That is expensive. The second is to deliberately and maliciously decline claims that are valid.

That is what the private insurers did in the 1999-2000 period, and I witnessed it first-hand as an advocate for claimants over that time. The private insurers work on the basis that ACC review and appeal soxts are so minimal that most lawyers and advocates won’t work on a contingency basis, however valid the claim. And the law is so complex that most claimants don’t have the expertise to represent themselves.

So the private insurers falsely and maliciously decline claims in the knowledge that most claimants will not have the resources to challenge the decisions.

If they wrongly decline 10 claims, and only two have the persistance or resources to challenge them legally, then that is a bloody good deal for the private insurers and their shareholders.

Steve Pierson has blogged about this here earlier today at The Standard. I think he is spot on, and I have the experience working in the area to give credibility to his claims.

If National lead the next government, be very, very afraid of having an accident.

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