Buswell cover up claim dimissed
Buswell cover up claim dimissed

The head of the State Government's insurer has dismissed claims of a cover up after it emerged a woman whose car had been hit by Troy Buswell was offered a settlement subject to a gag order.

Rod Whithear, the chief executive of the Insurance Commission of WA, explained this morning that it was "not uncommon" to insert confidentiality provisions into settlement offers.

The Government has come under fire after RiskCover - the trading arm of ICWA - offered a $3000 payment to a woman who's car was struck by the former treasurer but made it conditional on her not talking to the media.

The offer also barred her from pursuing any further legal claims against the Government over the incident.

Mr Buswell crashed into the woman's car in Subiaco on the night of February 22-23 while allegedly driving home drunk from a lavish wedding reception in Kings Park.

Addressing the media today, Mr Whithear scoffed at suggestions the inclusion of the gag order indicated the Government was trying to hide the incident, saying such claims were "bewildering".

Mr Whithear confirmed he spoke with Department of Premier and Cabinet boss Peter Conran over the matter, revealing they sometimes discussed "sensitive" issues.

However, he said Mr Conran's only advice had been to treat the claim in a "thorough" and "diligent" manner.

"There appears to be some pretty widespread consternation that the Insurance Commission - RiskCover - has made an offer to a person lodging a claim (and) that we've included a confidentiality provision in that settlement offer," Mr Whithear said.

"This is not uncommon.

"We deal with 15,000 workers compensation claims, motoring insurance, property insurance each year.

"We deal with 6000 personal injury motor vehicle claims.

"We operate with all of those claims on a confidential basis particularly when we're undertaking settlements.

"These things are negotiated."

Asked what proportion of claims includes gag orders, Mr Whithear was unable to provide specifics.

He said the publicity of the woman's settlement offer would not affect its value or how it was dealt with the commission.

The woman's car, a black 2001 Holden Barina, was assessed as a repairable write-off, with the value of the damage greater than the market value of the car.

The car's owner, whom The West Australian has agreed not to name, had only compulsory third-party insurance.

It is understood she has been left without a car since February 23, when Mr Buswell smashed into the Barina in his ministerial Holden Caprice.

The Barina had extensive damage to the driver's side and to its suspension. The assessed value of the car was $3321. RiskCover offered to pay $3000, subtracting the "salvage value" of $321.

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said it was "unacceptable" that "young victims" of Mr Buswell's errant driving were being forced to pursue claims which included confidentiality clauses.

Mr Travers said the Government should "come clean" about the events of the night and the extent to which it had tried to "massage this matter through the various Government agencies".

Labor has also called on the Insurance Commission to determine whether Mr Buswell had been drunk when the crash occurred to establish whether it - and therefore taxpayers - was liable for the bill.

It was the case that Mr Buswell was in fact drunk, Labor argues the former treasurer should for all related damages.

The West Australian

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