The Independent Review Office (IRO) saw record demand for all services in 2020-21, with increased complaints about personal injury compensation insurers and more applications for legal assistance by lawyers representing injured workers.
The 2020-21 IRO Annual Report, tabled in Parliament today, recorded more than 8000 injured worker complaints. The IRO also dealt with more than 300 complaints by persons injured in motor accidents, a new role for the office which commenced in March 2021.
“The IRO delivered on our promise of a fast service, with more than 95 per cent of injured worker complaints finalised within 15 calendar days.” said Independent Review Officer, Simon Cohen.
“We solved more than 80 per cent of workers compensation complaints through insurers taking action, providing a benefit or providing information to the worker’s satisfaction.”
The IRO’s Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS) also saw increased need in 2020/21, with more than 21,500 applications for grants of funding. More than half the grants completed (over 8400 grants) resulted in a decision by the Personal Injury Commission (PIC) or binding agreement, and in 94 per cent of these matters the worker improved their position.
The IRO successfully intervened in more than 200 ILARS cases before they were referred to the PIC, resulting in faster solutions for injured workers and insurers and reducing system costs.
“With workers compensation laws being overly complex and insurers’ claim management often not meeting expectations, IRO’s Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service has enabled thousands of workers to access expert and independent compensation lawyers, ensuring they receive the treatment and payment compensation they are entitled to”, Mr Cohen said.
The IRO’s Inquiry function was also reinvigorated in 2021 to improve the personal injury compensation system. The first Inquiry reviewed the most common cause of IRO complaints – delays by insurers in making decisions about treatment and weekly payment requests. The report shares good practice and recommends improvements to system data and regulatory guidance that, if implemented, should mean more timely decisions and fewer complaints.
The full report can be found here.
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