As the insured owner you have certain obligations you need to comply with under the terms of your insurance cover. Any breach to these conditions is taken seriously by your insurer and may result with your claim being refused.
- You are obliged to immediately inform your insurer that you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision.
- You are obliged not to admit fault for the accident.You will be required to complete an accident claim form after which the collision damage to your vehicle will be quoted for repair.
- Your insurer through their network of recommended repairers will direct you to a smash repairer they control.
- You can have your vehicle repaired by a smash repairer of your choice, however your repairer will only get the job if they match the repair quote as produced by the recommended repairer which is usually substantially lower than the repairer of your choosing.
Whilst the above may seem to be restrictive and controlling, vehicle owners should not be bullied into believing they will have their claim refuted or have insurance cover cancelled because they choose to have their own choice of repairer.
However make no mistake about it whether it is a recommended smash repairer or a repairer of your choice, you (the insured) have the absolute right to have your collision damaged vehicle repaired to a safe and ‘crashworthy’ standard and pursuant to the conditions and promises as defined in your insurance policy.
Your insurer makes certain warranty and guarantees to repair your collision damaged vehicle to either:
- Its pre-accident condition or
- To a workman like manner.
Whichever promise your insurer has made to you; they are obliged to reinstate safe structural integrity and crashworthy compliant collision repairs no matter who repairs your vehicle.
The recently adopted Smash Repair and Insurance Industry Code of Conduct clearly identifies your insurer’s voluntary obligation to ensure safe structural integrity. (See Motor Vehicle Insurance and Smash Repair Industry Code of Conduct section 1.1(a))
However and regardless whoever ultimately repairs your vehicle, you will find very few repairers have the correct collision repair equipment or can repair it to a safe integrity or within the repair budget allocated.
To ensure your vehicle has the best possible chance of being repaired to a crashworthy integrity you must insist on the following:
WARNING – NEVER ACCEPT A CASH SETTLEMENT IN LIEU OF COLLISION REPAIRS FROM YOUR INSURER
- Insist that your collision damaged vehicle is repaired on manufacturer approved repair equipment. (The ‘Carbench’ brand Jigging equipment is the only smash repair equipment approved by motor vehicle manufacturers available for ALL vehicle makes and models).
- Insist that your smash repairer shows you the manufacturers' endorsements for the equipment they intend to use to repair your vehicle.
- Ask your repairer when was the repair equipment last calibrated and ask to sight a recent and valid (within 90 days) calibration certificate; otherwise avoid the use of this equipment and or the repairer.
- Insist that your insurer complies with the promises and repair warranty pursuant to the insurance policy and the Code of Conduct.
- Insist that your repairer fits only new genuine replacement parts.
- Do not be bullied or settle for anything less than you're entitled to.
- Once the collision repairs are completed, ensure to ask your insurer (before you accept your vehicle) to provide you with a signed confirmation that all collision repairs are safe and within manufacturers recommended tolerances. Otherwise DO NOT accept the vehicle.
- Immediately after, arrange for your collision repaired vehicle to undergo an IVIC 'Structural Tolerance Report to determine if the repairs comply with manufacturers recommended specifications.
As the motoring public becomes more aware of their rights concerning crashworthy collision repairs, IVIC is noticing an increase with some insurance companies offering to cash settle collision repair claims rather than repair the collision damaged vehicle for the owner.
This is a very cunning ploy by insurers as it legally absolves them from many statutory responsibilities and other expensive costs. Cash settlements also allow insurer’s to maintain a very low collision repair average which helps them to maximise profits for their shareholders.
This is how it works: A customer purchases a motor vehicle insurance policy. Pursuant to the insurance policy contract the insurer accepts responsibility to repair the collision damaged vehicle to a safe crashworthy integrity when the vehicle sustains collision damage.
In addition to the above the insurer is also responsible for all other indirect costs that apply which include upholding their legal Duty of Care responsibilities and providing a collision repair warranty for each collision repair for the lifetime of the repaired vehicle.
Some insurers offer a fully transferable lifetime collision repair warrantee which allows for all future owners of collision repaired vehicles to also claim against the original policy.
As mentioned in the 'The Truth about the Smash Repair Industry & Smash Repair Budgets and Stakeholders 'links of this web site, smash repairers do not receive an adequate budget from insurance companies to repair collision damaged vehicles to safe crashworthy integrity. Yet to their financial determent, smash repairers operating under the insurance controlled regime are prepared to accept whatever work that is offered to them from insurers.
Insurance companies and their assessors are notorious for reducing the initial repair quote leaving very little (if any) profit for smash repairers in such jobs. However smash repairers knowing they cannot provide safe integrity repairs for the reduced amount, foolishly are prepared to cut corners and sacrifice on quality and safety during the repair process and accept these quantum reduced inadequate jobs. Unfortunately the vehicle is later returned to its owner with defective repairs and with disguised unrepaired damage.
There is certainly no rational explanation why smash repairers accept these jobs; perhaps it is to sustain a false cash flow requirement, whatever the reasons, their actions are definitely negligent and clearly breach their Duty of Care responsibilities.
This method of quoting and allocating repair work is beginning to backfire on insurers as the owners of collision repaired motor vehicles are beginning to realise that their collision repaired motor vehicle has not being repaired to a safe crashworthy integrity.
The IVIC 'Structural Tolerance Report' provides owners with the required forensic technical evidence to help support their complaints of unsafe and defective repairs. It also allows owners to successfully claim additional yet more expensive remedial reworks against their insurer and usually free of any cost to the vehicle owner.
Let's put this into perspective. - A smash repairer might quote collision damage for say $5,000. This is the amount required to repair the collision damage to what is known as safe crashworthy integrity. However before the repairer can commence repairs he first needs to obtain an authority to commence works from the insurance company.
An assessor employed by the insurance company (or an assessor contracted by the insurer) has a responsibility to control and mitigate costs for their employer or contract provider. The assessor will subsequently assess and quantify the collision damage against the original quote as supplied by the smash repairer and interestingly, in almost every situation the quantum amount will be reduced from the repairer's original quote.
The assessor justifies the reduction by slashing either the quantity of hours (the labour content) required or repairing, rather than replacing damaged components or substituting genuine replacement parts in lieu of cheaper and more inferior aftermarket replacement parts, or a combination of each.
The assessor then values the damage at say $2,200 (a reduction of $3,800 from the original quote) and approves only that amount ($2,200) for the repairs. Wanting to keep the workshop full of work and keep in favour with the insurance company, smash repairers foolishly almost always accept the cheaper quote.
This method of quoting and repairing motor vehicle collision damage is obscenely negligent. It will not be long before we see all stakeholders joined as co-respondents in potentially huge industrial contributing negligence actions.
In the meantime however vehicle owners can access the IVIC 'Structural Tolerance Report' product to obtain the technical evidence required to support their claims that their collision damaged vehicle was not repaired to a crashworthy compliant integrity and pressure their insurer to rectify accordingly.
Apart from the actual cost to repair the vehicle, there are also further and continuing indirect costs which the insurer is responsible, they being:
- Repair supplements - items not accepted in the initial quote but later required
- Re-works (remedial repairs resulting from customer complaints),
- Duty of Care responsibilities
- A lifetime repair warranty and /or Guarantee
- The cost of administering the above.
- The cost of defending legal action brought about by disgruntled customers
For insurers these indirect ongoing costs and continuing legal responsibilities are very high and is clear to see why they favour cash settlements over repairing collision damaged vehicles.
Another very important consideration why insurers favour cash settlements is they can remove themselves from any legal liability from potential negligence suits which might be brought forward in the future. To ensure there will never be any confusion as to who is or isn't responsible for future problems with the subject vehicle, the insurer will always insist for the insured to waiver their rights to sue the insurer in cash settlement cases.
However on the other hand, the insured will always be left in a financially desperate position if they accept cash settlements.
The insured will find:
- The insured will have difficulty locating a smash repairer who would be prepared to repair the collision damage for the cash settled amount.
- <span 1.6em;"="">The customer will have no avenue for legal redress if something were to go wrong and invariably something is very likely to go wrong under these circumstances.
- Once the cash settlement has been paid, the insurance policy will be immediately cancelled and recorded accordingly within the insurance industry records. This means the insured is forever duty bound to disclose that they have had an insurance policy cancelled by an insurer whenever they wish to purchase any new insurance policy in the future. This is a clever trick by insurers and a means for them to classify you being a higher insurance risk and charge more for the annual premium and excess.
If you do not disclose that you have had an insurance policy cancelled to any new insurer, you run the risk of having any potential claim refused and possibly find yourself being classified uninsurable.NEVER ACCEPT A CASH SETTLEMENT IN LIEU OF COLLSION REPAIRS FROM YOUR INSURER