International Travel and Double Recovery

Claudio Bozzi


A combination of the economic significance of international tourism, the increased mobility of individuals, and their greater willingness and desire to manage their own movements has significant implications for insurers which currently remain under-appreciated. International visitors to Australia are more likely to die or suffer injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident than in any other way. While attention has been focused on the complex jurisdictional issues that may arise, other equally important problems such as the potential for action in double recovery have gone largely unnoticed. The need is particularly acute because, as many studies attest, the prospect of death and injury in motor vehicle accidents involving foreign licensees is only likely to increase. Injured third parties returning to home jurisdictions with national health systems will rightly draw on the resources of the state, public welfare, and sometimes private insurance to meet their health care needs. To complicate matters further, European countries typically view the state as a guarantor of individual and collective social rights, and, to varying extents, constitutionally guarantee health care and other relevant benefits such as unemployment payments. In effect, an injured third party receiving a payout for the cost of those injuries from an Australian insurer returns home as a citizen or resident of a state in which she or he draws on publicly funded health care and benefits. In Italy, for example, the needs of the injured third party are met by a devolved health care system which places the greatest burden of responsibility for the delivery and funding of services on regionally governed public enterprises, and to a lesser extent on other entities. Some of those providers have mounted actions in recovery for money spent and goods supplied for the treatment of the same injuries that are the subject of the insurance. The aim of this article is to address the theoretical basis and practical implications of actions taken against the insured injured party in the context of foreign constitutional and personal injuries law (or constitutionalised personal injuries law).

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