‘Unjust’ laws leave family $300k worse off
A FAMILY injured in a horrific accident claim they have been left $300,000 out of pocket because of "unjust" new insurance laws.
The Singaporeans were also forced to fly home still needing more surgery - all because they were not covered for an accident that wasn't their fault.
Tourists Jyh Ang Koo and his wife Kelly Tan required major internal surgery - and their 13-year-old son needed surgery to a crushed foot - after a head-on collision near Lismore on December 11 last year.
After a month-long stint in Gold Coast Hospital they were forced to return home, complete with stoma bags, because the insurance company for the driver at fault refused to pay for further medical expenses.
Their two-part operation normally requires a six-month break between surgeries, which then removes the bag and restores proper intestinal function.
"The laws should really not be against tourists here because the accident was not our fault," Mr Koo, 51, said.
"There are other states that cover tourists in this way, so maybe tourists should give NSW a miss."
The trio are believed to be among the first foreigners to be caught up in changes to the CTP insurance scheme, which started in December last year.
Under the new laws foreign tourists who are not at fault in motor vehicle accidents are now unable to recover any medical or treatment expenses once they leave Australia.
They are also denied easy access to hardship provisions to cover immediate hospital expenses or easy access to weekly wage payments - a cover available to Australian citizens only.
In most other Australian states, the CTP scheme allows for a tourist's medical expenses to be paid if they are not at fault.
Ironically, if the family had the accident 100km north in Queensland, or had the crash two weeks earlier, they would have been covered.
Australian Lawyers Alliance NSW president Andrew Stone SC said this part of the new laws is "disgraceful" and "grossly discriminatory against foreign tourists who are injured on NSW roads".
"The cost of adequately covering medical expenses for foreign tourists injured on NSW roads is only a few cents in the total premium," he said.
"All it takes is one adverse public example reducing enthusiasm for tourists to travel to NSW for a driving holiday and any savings to motorists will pale compared to the cost to the NSW tourism and education sectors."
Mr Stone said almost all travel insurers do not cover medical expenses gap left by changes in the CTP scheme.
A NSW Business Chamber spokesman refused to comment.
A spokesman for the NSW Government State Insurance Regulatory Authority said: "The new CTP scheme supports all injured road users, regardless of their nationality or residency status for as long as they reside in Australia".
"The Act also allows people residing outside Australia to have access to payments for lost income in circumstances where their loss of earnings is likely to be of a permanent nature," he said.
"However, the Act does not provide for injured people who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia to receive payments for medical cover when they leave Australia."
Despite not being legally required to do so, Allianz two weeks ago provided the family with a a "significant advanced payment" to assist with medical and other expenses.