The Transport Accident Commission’s claim system has helped to defray and mitigate the medical expenses of millions of Australians injured in transport accidents. Every year, thousands of drivers, passengers and pedestrians are provided with crucial financial assistance, helping them lead their best possible life in the wake of an injurious accident.
But the situation can be complicated when required elements – such as insurance and vehicle registration – are missing or incomplete. Don’t be concerned – get the certainty that comes from knowing exactly where you stand with help from u-Law. If you’re wondering how your vehicle’s registration status or your own insurance policy could affect any pending or potential TAC claim, read on and let us explain in our latest blog.
How the TAC Claims Process Functions
Payments made to a person suffering injury or the family of a person suffering death because of a transport accident are paid from the Transport Accident Fund. The Transport Accident Fund is maintained through a number of mechanisms, including the collection of amounts received as a penalty for offences against regulations, income resulting from investments made by the TAC, and – crucially – transport accident charges.
Now referred to as the Transport Accident Commission charge, these transport accident charges are a component of each vehicle owner’s registration fees that is paid directly to the TAC to support it in its operations, including education campaigns for the prevention of transport accidents and the payment of claims.
Due to the expensive nature of the work undertaken by the TAC – including the lifelong payment of loss of earnings benefits to those render partially or wholly incapable of working – the Transport Accident Commission charge can account for around 60% of the total amount in registration fees paid.
As such, a vehicle’s registration status can factor into the decision-making process where a claim is made for an injury sustained in or by that vehicle. But the extent to which it has an impact can and has been debated.
Understanding your Vehicle Fees
Despite most vehicle-owners referring to the sum of the annual fee payable to VicRoads as their ‘registration’, this is technically untrue.
As detailed above, this fee is technically composed of
- a registration fee that VicRoads retains,
- a Transport Accident Commission charge that is paid into the Transport Accident Fund, and
- an additional insurance duty applied to the Transport Accident Commission charge.
As such, it is important to note that the TAC has its own definitions of ‘uninsured’ and ‘unregistered’ and draws a distinct difference between them.
For the TAC, an insured vehicle is one for which the Transport Accident Commission charge was paid within the previous 12 months. Conversely, an uninsured vehicle is one for which the Transport Accident Commission charge has been unpaid for at least 12 months.
Additionally, it recognises an additional class of claimant vehicle – unregistered vehicles. An unregistered vehicle is one which has never been registered in Victoria or elsewhere in Australia, and one for which the Transport Accident Commission charge was not paid at the time of the accident.
This distinction is made because while all vehicles require TAC cover, not all require registration. Understanding this requires understanding the purpose of each fee – the registration fee is a road tax that contributes to maintenance of the state’s infrastructure, while the Transport Accident Commission charge provides financial protection in the event of a transport accident. Think of it as similar to but not exactly the same as an insurance premium, except your insurer is a government body.
Therefore, a vehicle that is solely operated on private land – such as farm equipment that is never driven on public roads – will not require registration but will require TAC cover. The TAC makes provision for this by offering owners of such vehicles the chance to purchase TAC cover for non-registered motor vehicles (NRV cover).
In light of the above, where the claims process is complicated is where a person is injured in an accident on private land involving a vehicle that is either uninsured or unregistered according to the TAC.
What to do
Claimants have had success in previous years seeking payment for injurious accidents occurring in uninsured and unregistered vehicles, but as the circumstances of each case are different it is vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable transport accident lawyer.