Questions for Government regarding Berkshire Hathaway's take-over of MAC claims
12 December 2018
The Law Society has written to the Treasurer of SA, the Hon Rob Lucas, seeking clarification on a number of issues relating to the transfer of the Motor Accident Commission’s “back book” of CTP insurance claims to US conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.
Given that this deal involves a transfer of State-managed assets and liabilities to a commercial entity who will now be administering the claims of many injured South Australian motorists, the Society expects full and frank disclosure on the rationale behind the transaction and the implications for injured claimants, who include severely disabled people and children.
The Society’s questions to the Treasurer include:
- How is the deal likely to affect claimants, now that their claims will be managed by a commercial operation?
- What measures have or will be taken by the Government to ensure that those injured people who remain under the former scheme will continue to receive adequate care and compensation for the full term of their claim?
- How will long-terms claims be managed, particularly those where the care and treatment needs of claimants increase over time as a result of their injuries?
- What assurances can be given that Berkshire Hathaway will act as a model litigant in matters involving claims of injured motorists?
- What is the nature and value of the assets that have been transferred from the State to Berkshire Hathaway?
- Who will manage the claims on behalf of Berkshire Hathaway?
- Given the transfer of assets and liabilities will occur on 31 January 2019 - five months before the MAC was originally scheduled to be wound up (30 June 2019) – how will the non-CTP roles and responsibilities of the MAC (e.g. road safety campaigns) be funded?
- What advice did the Government receive regarding the economic benefits of the deal?
- Is the independent advice relating to the merits of the deal publicly available?
- Were other options explored with regards to the transfer of MAC assets and liabilities?
- Has there been any undertaking by Berkshire Hathaway to invest in SA?
Law Society President Tim Mellor said that it was imperative that claimants, who are entitled to a certain level of compensation by way of premiums paid by the people of SA, were not adversely affected by this deal.
“These are people who have been seriously injured in motor accidents and, under the scheme their CTP insurance covered, are entitled to compensation relating to medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of income,” Mr Mellor said.
“A number of these claimants may need ongoing medical treatment for 10 years or more, and it would be disastrous for them if for some reason their claims were devalued.”
“Berkshire Hathaway would only take over the management of these claims if it sees commercial value in the transaction. But the profit motive should not compromise the entitlements of injured motorists.”
“A key protection for claimants under the old scheme was that the MAC was legally obliged to be a model litigant, meaning there were strict rules to ensure that the insurer did not use unfair tactics against claimants. What checks and balances will there be to guarantee that a commercial business will be fair and transparent in their dealings with claimants?”