• By the source below
  • 20 May, 2016

  Carter Newell March 2016

The facts

The 12 year old plaintiff was an outstanding young swimmer. Just prior to the incident, she was age champion at her school and in the District, was a multiple medalist at Regional and State levels, had appeared in the top 10 age rankings at National level in four events, and was expected to compete in at least four events in the Australian Age Nationals later that year.

On 7 January 2008, the plaintiff was undertaking a training program at Lithgow Memorial Swimming Pool which was managed by Lithgow City Council (   council   ). The plaintiff was training with two friends, Tom and Jordan Brodie, under the supervision of their father (   Mr Brodie   ). The training program was written by her coach (   Mr Critoph   ) who was the swimming coach of Kinross Wolaroi School (   school   ), however, as he was away at the time he gave the program to Mr Brodie to implement with his two sons and the plaintiff.

The training program involved each swimmer diving 10 times from the deep end and 10 times from the shallow end. When commencing her second dive, but first dive from the shallow end, the plaintiff's foot slipped in what may have been a puddle of water and she collided with the bottom of the pool, rendering her tetraplegic. The plaintiff had dived from the concourse (not a diving block), and was standing near, or on, a '   no diving'   sign.

The plaintiff was undertaking a    track-start'    dive, taught by Mr Critoph, which involved placing one foot on the edge of the concourse/block with toes gripping its edge, and placing the second foot some 50-60cm to the rear. Swimmers then lean down, placing hands at the edge of the concourse/block, and then propel themselves into the water using both hands and feet. At the time of the incident, the plaintiff would have performed track-dives on hundreds, but more probably thousands, of occasions.

The plaintiff subsequently claimed damages in negligence against the school, having a non-delegable duty of care for its servant/agent (Mr Brodie while supplementing Mr Critoph’s role), on the basis that it failed to conduct an inspection or risk assessment of the pool    'in respect of its suitability to be used for swimming training exercises involving dive entry into the shallow end'   when there were non-coping tiles, for failing to warn the plaintiff of the risk of injury in performing    'track-start'     dives, and failing to teach the plaintiff how to abort the dive to avoid injury. None of the allegations referred to any provisions of the   Civil Liability Act 2003   (Qld) (   CLA   ).

The plaintiff also claimed damages against the council for failing to prohibit dives from the shallow end of the pool (under the supervision of Mr Brodie or otherwise), and failing to have a sign that read    'Warning: Dive Entries Permitted by Trained Swimmer Under Coach’s Supervision Only'     in accordance with SU22, the supervisory guideline issued by Royal Life Saving Society Australia (   RLSSA   ).

The trial judge gave a verdict in favour of the plaintiff against the school on the basis that it was unreasonable that the school encouraged the plaintiff to use the '   track-start'   dive at the shallow end of the pool, especially when gripping coping tiles were lacking.

The plaintiff, however, failed against the council as it would not have been reasonable for the council to be aware of the increased risk associated with '   track-start'   dives, the difference between    'track-start'   or other dives, or of the importance of gripping coping tiles.

The plaintiff appealed the decision against the council. The school also appealed.


The following issues were considered:

  1. Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the school was liable (for reasons outlined above); and
  2. Whether the trial judge erred in finding that the council was not liable.


Appeal against the council

The Court of Appeal considered the RLSSA guidelines, expert evidence, and academic literature from the Department of Education and Training and Department of Local Government regarding the plaintiff's allegation that the council ought to have been aware of an increased risk of executing    'track-start'   dives and the importance of the coping tiles.

The Court of Appeal found that the plaintiff failed to establish that the council was, or ought reasonably to have been, aware of the literature, and that there was nothing in the literature that would have alerted the council to the increased risk of the track-start dive or coping tiles in any event.

The Court of Appeal also found that pursuant to SU22 of the RLSSA, the absence of any warning sign had no relevance to the plaintiff as a trained competitive swimmer.

The plaintiff’s appeal against the council was dismissed.

School's appeal

The Court of Appeal was critical that the plaintiff made no allegations pursuant to the CLA, such as whether the risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable to the school for the purposes of s 5B of the CLA. The importance of pleadings and submissions was emphasised.

The Court of Appeal found:

  1. There was no evidence to suggest that if the plaintiff had been trained to abort the    'track-start'   dive, that she could or would have done so on the date of the incident;
  2. When considering the available literature, there was no basis for the school to have been aware of that literature, and any increased risk associated with    'track-start'   dives, particularly given the literature indicated the safety of the    'track-start'   dive compared to other diving techniques;
  3. Ultimately the plaintiff’s foot slipped when executing the '   track-start'   dive which was causative of her fall, rather than as a result of non-gripping tiles; and
  4. Given the above, the alleged failure of the school in carrying out a risk assessment was not causative of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Lessons to be learned

This decision demonstrates that even in the event that the plaintiff’s foot was found to have slipped on the tiles whilst attempting to execute a '   track-start'     dive, it did not automatically follow that the tiles were defective or unsuitable or that a risk assessment would have identified any risk which could have prevented the incident from occurring. There was also no evidence to suggest that the plaintiff could have been trained to abort a dive gone wrong, or that she would have done so on the day of the incident. Further, just because literature is available that provides commentary and recommendations regarding diving, it does not automatically follow that being aware of the literature could have prevented the incident from occurring.

Public liability insurers ought to consider whether the availability of guidelines and expert opinion, lack of site inspections and risk assessments, and any failure to train is likely to impact whether the incident would have occurred in any event.

By the source below 13 Nov, 2017

Buying a car is an exciting and often frustrating experience. Aside from the usual questions about fuel efficiency, blue tooth connectivity and whether red really does make it go is faster, we need to worry about how safe the car is. Well here are nine things

1.     Anti-lock brakes

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) do more than just stop a wheel from locking. They also control traction control by applying the brakes (and/or adjusting engine speed) when they detect wheel spin.

2.     Stability control

This system can prevent drivers from losing control of their car when swerving unexpectedly. It’s also compulsory in all vehicles and is more commonly known as ESP, but also as DSC, DTSC, ESC, ESP+, VDC, VSA and VSC.

3.     Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)

Another bit of technology to help you stop, EBD eases brake force if the grip is different at each wheel, helping to stop the car in a straight line.

4.     Lane-keeping technology

Similar to those little bumps on the side of the freeway, this technology vibrates the steering wheel when the car strays across lanes without indicating.

5.     Pre-tensioned/load-limited seat belts

Pre-tensioned seat belts take up slack in the belt when they detect if a crash is imminent. Load limiters help stop serious injury by stretching the belt slightly in a crash if too high a load is placed on the occupant.

6.     Dual-stage airbags

Inflating less rapidly in lower severity crashes, these airbags significantly lessen the chance of airbag-related injuries.

7.     Seat-mounted side airbags

Seat-mounted side airbags protect the pelvis, chest and abdomen in a side-on crash and unlike door-mounted airbags, stay in the correct position when the seat is moved.

8.     Side curtain airbags

This type of airbag drops down from the roof lining and protects the heads of passengers in the front and rear of the car.

9.     Isofix child seat mounts

One of the most important safety features are these mounting points for child seats which are built into the car seats, rather than the adult seat belt, making installation of the child seat much easier.

By the source below 08 Nov, 2017

A car or a motorbike is often one of the most expensive things that you will own. The freedom of driving on the open road is difficult to match but those open roads are varied in both location and condition.

Whether you own your vehicle outright, are paying off a loan, or someone else owns it and you are driving/riding it, appropriate risk management is pretty important. Not everyone has the same level of experience or care on the road. In many cases, it doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, as your chances of being in a bingle are very high. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are over 600,000 road accidents in Australia each year, costing the economy an estimated $27 billion annualy.

But it’s not just car crashes that you need to worry about, with statistics showing that 1 in every 9 cars are reported stolen each year.

So as careful as you are with your pride and joy, there’s always a chance that something will, not could, go wrong – making motor vehicle insurance a must.

Compulsory Third Party insurance

Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is the most basic level of cover, and as the name suggests, is compulsory by law. It is generally covered by the government or is included in your vehicle registration fees, depending on which state you live in. This type of insurance provides cover for death or injury to those involved in an accident - apart from the driver.

Unfortunately, CTP insurance doesn’t cover anything that happens to your vehicle or any damage caused by it. For that you need some form of motor vehicle insurance.

Motor Vehicle Insurance: Different Levels of Cover

Motor vehicle insurance has different levels of cover and as is the way with most insurance products, the more cover you take, the more it will cost.

Third Party Property Damage

This type of insurance covers the cost of damage caused to other people’s property and legal costs but not damage to your vehicle. It includes items such as other cars, buildings, fences, lamp posts and traffic signals.

Third Party Fire and Theft

Much like Third Party Property Damage, this type of insurance covers the cost of damage to other people’s property, but will also cover you for damage caused to your vehicle by fire or theft. It does not cover damage to the owner’s car caused in a road accident.


The name pretty much says it all – as this insurance product covers you comprehensively. It covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle for events including theft, collision, fire, malicious damage and weather-related damage, such as hail or flooding.

Comprehensive insurance will also cover the cost of repairing and replacing any other vehicles that are damaged by your vehicle in an accident, and damage to property.

In many cases, depending on your policy, it may also cover personal property in the car, death benefits, towing, legal costs and even hire cars needed while repairs are being done. These are usually treated as optional extras, so make sure you talk to an insurance broker or your insurer about which type of policy is right for you.

Legal aspects

As with many aspects of living, the law has an effect on everybody - insurance is no different. Several legal aspects are discussed below:

Duty of disclosure

An insurance company asks potential policyholders a number of questions so that it can decide whether to provide insurance and at what cost. The policyholder has a legal obligation to disclose all relevant details that may affect the terms of insurance. This includes any modifications made to a vehicle after the insurance policy is acquired, such as body modifications and sound systems. ‘Hotted up’ cars can be insured, depending on a number of factors, but it is important to disclose all information relating to the modifications. Obviously, this may affect the cost. Some insurers will choose not to insure cars that have been modified, while others tend to specialise in this type of insurance.

Parents and children

Some parents insure the car of a young adult in their own name. This leads to a lower cost, assuming the parent has a reasonably sound driving record. This practice is, in fact, fraudulent as it misleads the insurance company on the level of actual risk and therefore the cost. If your children are of driving age and own their own vehicles, they should have their own policy. Ensure you inform your broker or your insurer if you have children that are of driving age and drive your vehicle as not doing so could void any claim you need to make.


Under federal law (Privacy Act 1988), there are strict guidelines related to the type of information that private-sector organisations, such as insurance companies, can ask. The laws govern the purpose for which information can be used and the way that information about policyholders is treated.

How Insurance Companies Assess Your Risk

The cost of motor vehicle insurance is determined by the level of cover - the more cover taken, the higher the cost will be, and the level of risk. When you buy motor vehicle insurance, the following factors are considered:

Your age

How old you are at the time you get your insurance policy will affect the price of your premium. The younger you are the more you pay because statistically drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to have an accident. Once you hit that magical time of life called 25 or over, the cost of your insurance can drop quite a lot. However, it will generally rise again when you’re over 65—because statistically, seniors, like younger drivers, have a higher accident rate.

Your gender

Sorry to say guys but studies have been done that show men drive more aggressively than women and are prone to have more accidents, and the prices they are charged for insurance premiums reflect this. Overall, women pay 12% less than males with a similar age, location and driving history.

Your driving record

If you have a spotless driving record with not even the slightest scratch of your car you will most likely pay a lower premium than someone who has had a few incidents. Some car insurance companies even reward safer drivers with ‘safe driver discounts’.

Your car

Cars that cost more to repair cost more to insure and cars that have been modified or ‘pimped out’ cost more again. Cars with extra safety features will normally cost less to insure because the safety features result in less claims and lower claim amounts. So before buying a car you might want to research the average prices for insurance for that make or model to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Your neighbourhood

If you live in a neighbourhood that has a statistically high crime rate you will have to pay a higher premium than someone who lives in a safer area with the same age, same driving record etc. People who live in and near cities pay more than people who live in rural areas because there is more traffic with a bigger chance of having an accident.

When it comes to choosing your policy it can be hard to figure out what’s a reasonable price to pay. So make sure you get plenty of quotes from different insurance companies or talk to a broker to find the policy that covers your needs at a price that suits you best. It's also important to remember to read the conditions to see what’s covered and what isn’t.

Vehicle Value

In terms of how your vehicle is valued, most insurers will offer two choices - market value or agreed value.

Market value— this is what your car would be sold for on the open market at any given point in time.

Agreed value— this is a fixed value agreed to between you and your insurer.

Can I reduce my premium?

Insurance companies generally provide a lot of options for people to reduce the premiums they pay. You can actively do a lot of things to help keep the costs down. These include:

  • Parking your car safely. Securely parking your vehicle (either off street or in a lock-up garage) can reduce the risk of theft, vandalism, flood or storm damage claims.
  • Maintaining a good driving record reduces the risk of you making a claim – many insurers offer sizeable discounts for drivers with good driving records.
  • Buying a car fitted with safety and security devices like alarms or immobilisers to reduce the risk of theft and damage, or have them installed if this is feasible.
  • Driving less often. It sounds silly but some insurers will offer lower premiums for drivers who don’t drive as much.
  • Limiting the number of drivers you nominate on your policy, especially if they are under 25.
  • Choosing a higher excess. This is a good option if you don’t think you’re going to need to make a claim any time soon. The higher the excess, the lower the premium
  • Choosing to insure for market value instead of nominated value. For newer vehicles, this isn’t usually an issue but as a vehicle’s value depreciates quickly, the market value of your vehicle may not be enough.
  • Bundling your car insurance with other types of insurance, such as home and contents, life or travel insurance.

As always, contact a broker or your insurer to check how these may be taken into account.


As with most types of insurance product, insurers will offer a range of extras that you may wish to consider. Of course, with any extra you choose, there will be an additional cost. These include:

  • protection of your no-claim bonus
  • a rental car following an accident
  • windscreen and glass damage cover
  • exclusion of cover for drivers under 30 years of age
  • cover for stolen work tools or stock
  • roadside assistance


What to do if you have an accident

When people take out motor vehicle insurance, they hope they never have to use it. Makes total sense. But with so many accidents happening every day, there’s a pretty good chance you will need to make a claim at some point.

Luckily though, most accidents only damage the vehicles rather than the occupants. The question is, do you know what to do if you have an accident?

  • Firstly, never drive away from the scene of the accident until you’ve completed the following steps.
  • Don’t panic! As hard as it can be, try to stay calm. Switch off the ignition and check to see if anyone is injured. If so, call 000 to get medical assistance immediately.
  • Report the accident to police if someone is injured (this includes you) or if there is damage to property whose owner is not in attendance. It’s also a good idea as sometimes your insurance company will want to see a police report. Speaking of which, it’s probably a good idea to call your insurance company and let them know.
  • Try and prevent any further accidents by keeping your hazard lights on. Only move your vehicle if it is safe to do so, and if it’s interfering with traffic.
  • Make sure you give your name, address, registration number, contact details and insurance information to the other people involved in the accident. Be sure to get the same details from the other driver, and contact details from witnesses if there are any.
  • When you get a chance, use your camera or phone to take photos of the vehicles if there is visible damage. If you have visible injuries, take photos of them too, and then instagram it. Maybe not, but having a photo record of the accident can be invaluable when it comes to making a claim later on.

Pleasure Crafts (boats)

Pleasure craft insurance is designed to protect private boat owners from loss or damage to their vessel and accessories as well as any legal liability arising out of the use of the vessel.

Like private motor vehicle insurance, there is usually a no claims bonus system and this can result in a cheaper cost if no claims are made.

Policies differ slightly among insurers, but the basic tenets are common to most insurers in Australia and New Zealand.

A typical pleasure craft owner’s policy protects the insured and anyone using the pleasure craft with the insured’s permission. The definition of BOAT usually includes:

  • the hull
  • motors - including control equipment
  • sails, masts, spars and rigging
  • auxiliary dinghy (if any), accessories and trailer

The craft is insured for market or agreed value, and is usually accompanied by an excess. The excess is payable only when the policy holder is at fault.  

Will pay/Full cover

Won't pay /No Cover

Voluntary rescue work

Extra costs- i.e. hiring replacement craft

Towing damaged craft to safety

Reduction in value- because of age or damage

Personal property on craft if lost or damaged

Cost of worn-out parts

Inspection of hull if stranded

Rust or corrosion

Recovering boat, reducing loss costs

Faulty workmanship, structural defects, design

Dismantle, clean craft if submerged

Mechanical or electrical breakdown


Pre-existing damage (prior to insurance)


Damage to tyres of trailer


Skiing or diving equipment,


Fishing equipment not permanently attached to craft,


Unsecured sails, protective covers, outboard motors


Overheated motors


Damage to sails, masts, riggings as a result of racing.


For sailing boats, a racing risk extension is available (for races that are less than 50 nautical miles).

When filing a claim, an insured must fulfil various contractual obligations including to:

  • Make a claim as soon as possible after a loss. Failure to do this may result in reduction of claim resulting in disadvantage to the insured
  • Take all reasonable steps to stop any further loss
  • Advise the nearest police station if boat is lost, stolen, vandalised or maliciously damaged
  • Keep the damaged property so that the insurer may inspect it
  • Advise the insurer of any prosecution or inquest that may be held
  • Send any document relating to a claim to the insurer as soon as possible (alternatively for some insurers within 72 hours) of receiving the document
  • Not repair or replace damaged property without the consent of the insurer
  • Not pay, promise to pay or offer payment, or admit responsibility for a claim


If you’re taking the opportunity to travel more, or just enjoying your boat, caravan or motor home on the weekends, there are insurance products to help make sure you’re always protected.

Whether you keep it permanently onsite, or take it across the country, caravan insurance policy provides protection against accidental damage to your caravan. You can also cover extras such as your annexe and contents.

There are usually two types of caravan insurance covers, comprehensive (which covers both parked and mobile caravan) and onsite (which cover parked and/or immobile caravans).

What is a product disclosure statement?

A Product Disclosure Statement ( PDS) is a legal document, or sometimes a group of documents, that contains information about your insurance policy. A PDS will typically include any significant benefits and risks, the cost of the policy and the fees and charges that the policy provider may receive. Supplementary PDSs may be issued from time to time and must be read in conjunction with the PDS to which they relate. A PDS will help you understand the insurance policy and give you the the information about the terms and conditions, policy benefits and exclusions that you can use to compare differet policies. You should be aware that a PDS doesn't take into account your individual needs or financial situation.

Reading the PDS will help you compare and make an informed choice about the policy and give you information on you how your insurer will respond if you need to make a claim. And most importantly, if you don’t fully understand the PDS contact your insurance company and ask for more information. It's always better to have more information than less.

Cooling off period

When you take out a new policy make sure you have the details of your new product explained to you and confirmed in writing. In most cases, you will also have the benefit of a 30-day cooling off period. This means if you change your mind in the first 30 days after joining, and haven’t made a claim for benefits on the new product you may get a refund of any contributions you’ve paid.

By the source below 08 Nov, 2017

Sometimes, it’s nice to take something and make it your own. Sometimes, that thing you take and make your own is your car.

If you are contemplating 'souping up' your vehicle, regardless of whether the modification you want to make is in the form of a minor safety-minded addition or in the form of a full-on facelift, there are some important things you need to know and consider, both when it comes to the law and your car insurance.

So, if customising your ride is something you feel compelled to do, make sure you do your due diligence. While we can’t help you paint those fun racing stripes on your car, we can help you with the aforementioned due diligence. Let’s dive in and have a look at the modification-related things you need to know.

Important non-insurance considerations prior to making modifications

 First and foremost, before you add to or change anything on your car, you need to be certain that what you plan to do is actually legal. All vehicles being driven on the roads need to be what is termed “street-legal” — and there is every chance that your intended modifications may impact your vehicle’s street-legal status.

As a result, always notify your relevant licensing authority before making any modifications to your car.

What happens if my modifications are illegal?

 If your modifications aren’t legal, typically a few of the following things will happen, all of which are pretty massive headaches:

  • You’ll face a significant fine.
  • Your vehicle will be de-registered.
  • Your vehicle will be impounded.
  • You’ll receive a defect notice.


How do I know if my modifications are legal?

 In Australia, modifications to your car need to be approved by your state or territory’s motor vehicle licensing department and they must comply with the following:

  • Australian Design Rules (ADR)
  • The National Code of Practice for Light Vehicle Construction and Modification (NCOP)
  • Road rules and regulations


What sorts of modifications are usually allowed by law?

Permissible vehicle modifications include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Alarm systems
  • Roof racks
  • Stereo systems
  • Additional lighting
  • Body markings
  • Single tone air horns
  • Air conditioning
  • Stabiliser bars
  • Air shock absorbers
  • Badge bars


What sorts of modifications are usually illegal?

In general, the following are no-go zones:

  • Loud exhaust systems
  • Dark window tinting
  • Non-compliant modifications to the engine, chassis, tyres or suspension


Important modification-related insurance considerations

Now that we’ve handled the legal stuff, let’s take a look at what you need to be aware of when it comes to modified vehicles and car insurance.

Do I need to notify my insurer?

Yes, you absolutely need to notify your insurer if you plan to make changes to your car. It’s as simple as that. Failing to notify your insurer of any modifications could lead to the cancellation or voidance of your policy and rejection of any claims you make.

In some circumstances, failure to notify your insurer about modifications may even lead to the warranty on your car being voided.

What kinds of modifications will and won’t be covered?

While policies will vary between individual insurers, when it comes to modifications, insurers deemed “mainstream” will usually cover the following:

  • Chrome exhaust systems
  • Radio and stereo systems
  • Alarm systems
  • Alloy wheels
  • Driving lights
  • Bull bars
  • Bicycle racks


The sorts of things that these mainstream insurers usually won’t cover include the following:

  • Nitro or hydrogen fuel-equipped engines
  • Custom paint work
  • Turbocharged or supercharged engines
  • Racing harnesses
  • Roll bars
  • Roll cages


Will modifications affect the cost of insurance?

Typically, yes. While some modifications are pretty benign and won’t make a difference to your premium, where other modifications are concerned, whether or not the effect on cost is positive or negative will depend on what kind of modifications you are planning to make.

If you’ve put an alarm system in your car, which lowers the risk of theft, or you’ve added safety features, which lower the risk of an accident, then your insurance premium may actually be lower.

However, changes that impact performance and aesthetics (yes, even those fun racing stripes) usually carry a higher accident risk — and, therefore, a higher premium. Other changes that increase the value of your car — like stereo systems and custom parts —also increase its appeal to thieves, meaning such modifications also attract a higher premium.

How does me being super-young and hot affect my insurance prospects if I modify my car?

It’s pretty simple: If you modify your vehicle (particularly in a manner that is linked to greater engine capacity and speed) and you’re under 25 (and particularly if you are male), you may find yourself uninsurable, regardless of what type of insurer you try to acquire coverage with (e.g. mainstream or specialist insurer).

Who are these specialist insurers you just mentioned?

If the modifications you want to make to your vehicle will have mainstream insurers showing you the door, you may have better luck with a specialist insurer.

Specialist insurers will often provide coverage to modified vehicles in circumstances where mainstream insurers won’t. For example, specialist insurers will usually provide insurance coverage for enhancements or alterations to suspension, engine or chassis (provided such changes are legally compliant).

However, bear in mind that younger drivers with modified vehicles will typically struggle to secure cover with a specialist insurer, and premiums in general with specialist insurers aren’t extremely competitive — the idea is that they will provide you with insurance where other insurers won’t, not that they will provide you with cheap insurance where other insurers won’t provide you with insurance at all.

While the types of modifications that carry higher premiums will vary among specialist insurers just as they do among mainstream insurers, modifications that increase the power of your vehicle will usually attract a relative increase in premium with specialist insurers. For example, if the modification to your car increases its power by 15 per cent, then your insurance premium will also increase 15 per cent.

The overall message

Never make a modification to your car before doing your research about whether it’s legal and how such a modification will impact your insurance. Those racing stripes look way better on a vehicle that is both insured and not impounded.

Read more about decisions that can affect your car insurance here

By the source below 05 Oct, 2017

This is a common type of insurance, involving a person or an organisation taking out insurance to protect against a liability they might face from a third party in connection with a business-related activity. The third party typically has suffered some kind of loss, such as physical and/or property damage, and, as a result of this, might try to argue that someone else should compensate them.

This claim would usually be a negligence claim brought against the other party. (Some claims are also covered by contract law or the federal Trade Practices Act 1974.)

To make a public liability claim, the person suing generally has to show that their injury or loss is the fault of the other person or organisation they are suing.

Example 1

Darren suffers food poisoning after eating a pie at the football. If he wants compensation from the person who sold him the pie, he will have to argue that his injury was their fault. In other words, that he got the food poisoning from eating the pie, and not from any other source.

Example 2

If the pie seller above is found by the court to have been negligent in serving a dangerous pie, they might order the seller to pay the injured football fan compensation. This could be a large amount. However, if the seller has public liability insurance, they won’t have to pay the amount themselves; their insurance company will pay. This could save the seller thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Claim statistics

Recently, community concern about rising public liability costs has been raised, with many organisations and individuals complaining about increased costs. This has resulted in the cancellation of some community events because the organisers could not find appropriate public liability insurance at a reasonable price.

As a result, State and Territory governments around Australia have changed the rules relating to claims for negligence. These changes have made it tougher for a person to sue for negligence by:

  • changing how compensation is calculated—compensation payments are likely be reduced making it more difficult to bring a claim, especially if the person suing was doing a risky activity
  • in some instances, not allowing the person suing to claim their court costs in their compensation claim, with compensation to be paid in stages instead of as a one-off payment.

With public liability insurance there must be a proper balance between compensation for those who have been injured through the negligence of others and the costs to society of asking insurance companies to pay this compensation. Everyone contributes to the costs of insurance. If too many claims for public liability are allowed to succeed, there is a negative effect on society as everyone has to pay more for insurance.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of public liability claims made on defendants with payouts rising.  

For example:

From 1997 to 2003 the average size of a settled public liability claim (‘settled’ means paid out by an insurance company before the matter went to court) increased from $11,000 to almost $17, 000.

From 1997 to 2003 the average cost for a public liability insurance policy increased from about $600 to $1,400.

(Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance, 5th Monitoring Report, July 2005,

By the source below 05 Oct, 2017

As the panic over dangerous inflammable cladding spreads like a bushfire, one of the country’s top strata insurance companies has come up with a course of action for worried owners.

Check your documents, then put safety measures in place if you have flammable cladding, is the message from one of Australia’s top strata insurers.

Strata Community Insurance says if a review of the original building documents show suspect cladding was installed, owners corporations should get a fire safety professional to inspect and recommend steps to improve safety.

This need not be the horrendously expensive remove and replace programme and could be a simple as a drenching sprinkler system which would at least slow the spread of fire.

In addition, says SCI, committees and strata managers should put a plan in place to recover cost and rectify non-conforming cladding immediately. They should also seek legal advice to recover costs.

Strata Community Insurance says that from early in the 1990’s, aluminium composite panel (ACP) has become a standard material for medium and high-rise buildings across Australia. It revolutionised the building sector by providing a low-cost, aesthetically pleasing skin or layer that was easy to attach to a building’s framework.

Benefits of this cladding included its ability to stop wind and rain entering a building, sound and thermal insulation as well as fire resistance. In addition, it was required to meet minimum standards under the Building Code of Australia.

In the aftermath of the disastrous Grenfell Tower fire in London on 14 June 2017 and the Lacrosse building fire on 25 November 2014 in Melbourne, questions are now being asked regarding the viability of cladding, and potential impact across Australia given the significant growth of multi-dwelling developments.

On 6 September 2017, the Australian Senate Economics References Committee recommended that the Federal Government implement a number of measures, which include:

  1. A total ban (importation, sale and use) of ACP’s with Polyethylene core.
  2. A national licencing scheme for all building professionals.
  3. A national approach to increase accountability across the supply chain.
  4. Introduction of a penalties regime for non-compliant work.

Types of Cladding

There are several types of cladding that have good fire resistance including brick, planks or weatherboards made from fibre cement, steel, aluminium and reconstituted timber products.

However, the contentious ACP cladding on Grenfell Toweri and the Lacrosse apartment building was ACP cladded with a highly flammable polyethylene (PE) core which allowed the fire to spread quickly and disastrously.

During the panel discussion at the recent Strata Fire Safety Forum in Sydney, it was suggested that for every 10 apartment blocks in Australia with cladding, approximately eight face the risk that they are covered in the highly combustible ACP cladding that caused the Grenfell Tower fire in London. This potential disaster is being compared to the asbestos crisis from the 1980s.

The panel noted that there was a higher propensity for larger buildings (from 20 to 200 apartments) being impacted, which they suggested equated to a significant portion of the housing stock. However; Paul Keating, Managing Director, Strata Community Insurance notes, “while we view the larger buildings as at greater risk because of size and height, we cannot dismiss the impact on lower level strata buildings who also need to take urgent action”.

  Who is responsible?

An investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners program, which aired on 4 September 2017, revealed that some international manufacturers and their Australian suppliers were aware of the risks associated with using ACP cladding with a PE core on high-rise buildings. However, they continued to import it because Australia’s lax and ambiguous building standards allowed it.

The situation is made more complex as it is difficult to identify where the responsibility lies for installing the non-compliant material. It could lie with developers, builders, sub-contractors or suppliers. This ambiguity may mean that apartment owners will need to cover the potentially crippling bills for the ACP cladding’s removal and replacement.

Implications for insurance

Where cladding products have passed AS1530.1-1994; the Australian Standard for flammability of external building product, it is reasonable to assume that there should not be an impact on insurance cover.

However, says the insurer, where this standard has not been met, given the nature of highly flammable cladding it may be difficult to access full insurance cover without a remediation plan in place to remove or replace existing ACP cladding.

As with asbestos from the 1980s, insurers will look to limit this additional risk. Today, it is almost impossible to obtain insurance for asbestos-related products and Strata Community Insurance fears that ACP may follow the same path.

Taking action

Owners of properties contain cladding should contact their executive committees and/or their strata managers to investigate whether there is a copy of the original architectural plans on file showing the composite of material used and whether it passed AS1530.1-1994.

In addition, they should also locate the Certificate of Conformity that was issued at the time of construction and ensure that their insurer is aware of both the existence of the cladding and its conforming (or non-conforming) status. A failure to disclose such information to their insurer may result in there being no cover under their insurance policy.

“As evidenced with the recent Grenfell fire, some ACP (including the PE core version) is highly combustible and needs immediate remediation and/or replacement and, with the recent publicity, the onus is now on lot owners to demand action given the potential for disaster,” notes Mr Keating.

By the source below 05 Oct, 2017

Miles Stratford has a stark warning for insurers, landlords and property managers – get ready, because a methamphetamine-fuelled storm of litigation is heading your way.

It is advice worth heeding. For the past five years the Auckland-based risk manager has been at the forefront of efforts to come to grips with New Zealand’s unfolding crisis with methamphetamine, or ‘ice’ as it is colloquially known. He fears the insurance and property management industries in Australia and internationally are in for a rude and costly awakening.

At the moment, no-one is really worried about it because they don't see it as a problem – it is a hidden issue,” Miles says. “But wind forward 12 months and if real estate agents, property managers, conveyancing solicitors and other intermediaries haven't changed their habits and behaviours, you are most likely going to have a whole bunch of risk and liability that sticks.”

For most landlords and property managers, the closest they have probably come to the world of illicit drug deals and organised crime until now is watching the latest cop show on television. However, a huge escalation in the supply and use of ice in recent years – including a proliferation of meth labs in rented apartments, houses, sheds and other buildings – has drawn many unsuspecting property owners into the web of criminal activity that surrounds the drug. It is becoming increasingly common for landlords to find that their rental house or unit has been turned into a veritable factory. Kilograms of dangerous synthetic drugs could be churned out, impregnating walls, floors, carpets, curtains in the procees. Even plumbing systems with highly toxic and volatile chemicals pose a severe and lingering health threat and could even trigger an explosion.

The damage caused can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Specialist cleaners using highly specific chemicals and techniques are required, and the process can take weeks. In the American state of Virginia, for instance, Department of Health guidelines on the steps that need to be taken to clean residential properties run to 19 pages and stipulate 13 key actions1. Miles says in New Zealand the cost of such clean-ups typically comes to between NZ$15,000 and NZ$30,000.

Owners keen to offload their property are often also required to disclose if it has been used as a meth lab, potentially hurting its capital value2.

In New Zealand, homebuyers are increasingly insisting on meth tests before completing their purchase, and of almost 13,000 properties tested by Miles’s company MethSolutions since 2012, about 40 per cent have had traces of the drug.

Tip of an iceberg

The illicit nature of the ice trade means that its scale can only be estimated, but official figures on drug seizures and meth lab busts, combined with wastewater monitoring and surveys of drug use, give some clue as to its scope.

From 2009 to 2013, the amount of ice seized globally more than doubled from 32 to 88 tonnes3, while seizures at the Australian border jumped 60-fold from 2010 to 2014.

The rise of ice has been so rapid that it is now widely considered to be the second-most commonly used illicit substance in the world, after cannabis, with some estimates putting the number of users as high as 54 million worldwide5.

Australia has become an especially attractive market for criminal networks because a combination of rapidly rising demand and high relative wealth has meant users are paying high prices. It has been reported that in 2013–14, the street price of ice in Australia was AU$675 a gram, compared with AU$268 in the United States, AU$122 in the United Kingdom, AU$111 in China and just AU$14 in Mexico6.

In the US, almost a third of state and local police agencies reported last year that methamphetamine was the greatest drug threat in their area7, and surveys indicate that the number of new users jumped 71 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

Buying local

While the international trade in ice is large, the nature of the drug means that criminals are also producing it locally to meet domestic demand.

Because it is a purely synthetic drug that does not involve growing plants (unlike cannabis, cocaine and heroin), it lends itself to being made in basic labs on a small scale, making production highly mobile9. So, as quickly as authorities shut down one meth lab, others spring up.

In Australia in 2013 police detected 608 clandestine meth labs, with a notable trend towards larger operations, with an attendant increase in the contamination they produce and the risk they pose10.

The problem is being amplified by an emerging trend for drug makers to spread their operation across multiple homes, says Aon Risk Solutions Sales Manager – Real Estate, Joanna Boyd.

“Different phases of the production process are occurring in different homes,” she says. “Therefore, more homes are being impacted.”

Claims on the rise

The incidence of chemical contamination caused by meth labs is causing concern for insurers, as well as landlords and property managers.

In New Zealand, insurers are clarifying their liability. IAG, the nation’s largest insurer, says it is receiving up to 80 claims a month, and pays out NZ$14 million a year to cover meth-related damage.

Faced with mounting claims, the insurer (which covers about half of the country’s 450,000 rental properties)11 has sought to ‘manage’ its costs. In March, it announced a NZ$30,000 cap on claims, an increase in standard excess from NZ$400 to NZ$2,500, a lift in landlord insurance premiums of up to NZ$130 a year and clarification that cover does not extend to damage caused to house contents12.

“Insurers have a role in signalling risk and trying to prompt better behaviours through how we construct our policies,” the insurer states. “We need to be very clear about levels of cover, and that includes establishing a higher excess so that landlords are encouraged to vet prospective tenants and monitor their homes rigorously, and that homeowners themselves remain vigilant.”

By the source below 05 Sep, 2017

As a tenant we don’t often think it is necessary to have contents cover but this can be costly assumption to make.
A good contents policy not only covers your contents but also your Australia Wide Liability for property damage or personal injury you may cause including damage you may cause to the property you lease. We have outlined a few scenarios in which you could become legally responsible for damages to help explain this cover further.

▪ A pan catches fire causing smoke damage to the house and fire damage to the kitchen .
This claim will range from $50,000 for clean up to the value to replace the entire building.

▪ Your pet damages the carpet and a scratches walls.
This could result in replacement of carpets and repairs to the walls costing $10,000. A Plaster and Paint of one wall is normally approximately $2,500.

▪ You throw a small party which gets out of control.
Uninvited or invited guests cause damage to the property inside and out resulting in repairs of $30,000.

▪ A friend visits and consumes alcohol, as they are leaving they trip and fall down a small flight of stairs.
We all have a duty of care for all persons on our property and this is legally seen as a breach of that
duty. Your friend could pursue you for medical costs and trauma. This type of claim would normally result in a minimum of $80,000 just to determine if you are liable or not. Should the claimant be successful this could increase to over $200,000.

▪ You have hired a scooter in Bali and you have your friend on the back, you have an accident and they injure themselves.
The cost of medical care and fights home will cost a minimum of $30,000. Once back in
Australia your friend may also pursue you for ongoing costs and compensation. This could result in legal costs and payments in excess of $200,000.

People without insurance who are confronted with the above circumstances are often faced with bankruptcy if they are not properly insured.

Contents insurance can be tailored to your requirements and doesn't need to be expensive. We will help you find a product that fits your requirements.


By the source below 05 Sep, 2017

    Thunderbolts and lightning are very, very frightening on their own, but add heavy rains tumbling down and golf-ball sized hail stones smashing into things, and there are many ways a storm can wreak havoc to both our property and us. Each year across Australia and New Zealand, storms and hail cause hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of property damage and injuries to people. Here you will find some information on what to do before a thunderstorm or hailstorm.

    Here are some things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property if you live in a storm prone area.

    • Ensure your property is clear of any dead trees or bushes, keep trees and shrubs away from the house and power lines.
    • Perform regular maintenance on your home and property as materials deteriorate over time, especially in sub-tropical and tropical climates.
    • Be aware of changes to building standards, these standards are in place to reduce the risk of damage to your home, so have a builder check the structural soundness of your home as well as the condition of the roof.
    • Keep gutters and downpipes clear.
    • Prepare a household emergency kit with essential items such as a portable radio, spare batteries, torch and a first aid kit, and make sure everyone in your family knows what the risks are and formulate a plan for contacting one another if separated.
    • Review your home and contents insurance policy and update a list of your home's contents. You can use Insurance Tracker to help with this.
    By the source below 05 Sep, 2017
    A grieving mother who lost her son to diabetes faced further heartache when she was not only burglarised but was also treated callously by her insurance company’s fraud investigator, it has been alleged.

    Violet, not the claimant’s real name, lodged a home contents claim after a thief broke into a back shed containing her deceased son’s belongings and got away with $20,000 worth of items.

    The third-party investigator allegedly accused Violet of being a liar and of stealing the items herself, pelted her with irrelevant questions including about her plans for the weekend and the death of her son; and even told her: “No wonder you don’t have a husband,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

    Violet’s story is one of many cases that have prompted the general insurance industry’s monitor, the Code of Governance Committee, to look into how external investigators are being used by the industry to detect and avoid paying out fraudulent claims.

    While there is a need to crack down on fraud, which costs insurers $2 billion a year and subjects honest policyholders to higher premiums, consumer advocates said the lack of rules for investigators has seen them bully, threaten, and intimidate claimants, SMH said.

    A new committee report has revealed that when insurers outsource claims-related functions to “service suppliers,” including investigators, compliance with the Code of Practice was “unpredictable” and the degree of oversight in some cases was “inadequate.”

    “As well, there is not enough guidance provided to external investigators when interviewing consumers,” committee chair Lynelle Briggs told the publication.

    “We also found that some respondents have authorised [investigators] to handle complaints when [insurance companies] are required to perform this function [and] some respondents’ contracts with [investigators] do not align with the code’s requirements.”

    The committee urged the industry to develop a set of best practice standards, and made 30 recommendations, including that interviews do not exceed two hours; that questions be “relevant, fair, and transparent”; that investigators assess whether claimants have special needs and provide them with additional support; and that guidelines be set up for interviewing minors.

    Drew MacRae from consumer advocacy group Financial Right Legal Centre (FRLC), said there was indeed a systemic problem with insurance investigations and that this problem should be quickly addressed.

    “We believe the recommendations should be implemented straight away because we think the industry has been on notice for enough time,” he said.

    “One of the key recommendations is communication, because we found that most people had no clue that they were being investigated, and if they did, they had very little information about what the process involved and their rights.”

    By the source below 07 Aug, 2017
    General insurer Virginia Surety will refund more than 500 customers over $330,000 in premiums, ASIC has said.

    The insurer will offer refunds and will have a condition placed on its Australian financial services licence, for improperly selling consumer credit insurance policies.

    From June 18, 2013 to December 31, 2015, Virginia Surety sold consumer credit cover, a bundled add-on which includes both life and general insurance, to customers taking out loans at car yards in Queensland and New South Wales.

    Search and compare insurance product listings for Financial Institutions from specialty market providers here

    ASIC found that the insurer had stated that the life cover in the add-on policy was underwritten by TAL Life, without TAL’s permission, leaving customers at risk that claims could be rejected even for paid policies.

    ASIC placed a condition on Virginia Surety’s AFSL so the firm has to refund the life premium paid by affected customers and engage an independent external compliance expert approved by ASIC to review compliance practices and report to the regulator.

    Peter Kell , ASIC deputy chair, said that consumers should have confidence when purchasing insurance cover that claims will be recognised.

    “The fact that Virginia Surety was selling this insurance without the life insurer’s approval indicates serious deficiencies with its compliance,” Kell said. “We have put all insurers in this market on notice that they need to change their practices and ensure they are properly considering the interests of consumers.”

    TAL has agreed to honour the life cover for those consumers with impacted policies and pay claims even though consumers will receive a refund from Virginia Surety.

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