In­surance changes irk re­pairer

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

A lo­cal pan­el­beater has com- plained he is still out of pocket de­spite New Zealand’s dom­i­nant in­surance company in­creas­ing its pay­ment rates.

Last year smash re­pair­ers told Kapi-Mana News they were be­ing squeezed out of business by low in­surance pay­ment rates, driven by the dom­i­nant company IAG, which in­cludes State, NZI, AMI and Lum­ley.

This year about 100 crash re­pair­ers com­plained to the Com­merce Com­mis­sion about IAG’s prac­tices.

In July, IAG re­viewed its rates and stan­dards, cat­e­goris­ing re­pair­ers into three stan­dards with tiered pay­ment rates, which, it said, im­proved min­i­mum qual­ity and safety stan­dards.

A Com­merce Com­mis­sion spokesman said the com­mis­sion had re­ceived sev­eral com­plaints about the company ear­lier this year and had com­pleted its as­sess­ment of those com­plaints.

‘‘We be­lieve the prac­tices of the in­surance company are not likely to breach the Com­merce Act, and will be tak­ing no fur­ther ac­tion,’’ he said.

A lo­cal re­pairer spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity last week.

He said IAG had in­creased its hourly pay rates, but re­duced the time al­lowed for tasks, leav­ing over­all pay­ments lower.

It had also im­ple­mented a re­view of re­pair shop stan­dards, grad­ing re­pair shops into ba­sic, in­ter­me­di­ate or gold stan­dard, and pay­ing them dif­fer­ing rates.

Most shops were down­graded to lower rates.

Gold-stan­dard shops are paid $82 per hour, but the num­ber of them in Wellington was re­duced after the re­view from about 15 to four.

In­ter­me­di­ate shops are paid $68 per hour, up from $45, but the al­lowances for work were re­duced.

Pre­vi­ously the company al­lowed 0.5 hours’ labour at $45 per hour to fit and re­fo­cus a head­lamp, or $22.50. The new rate is 0.25 hours at $68, or $17.

The old rate for fit­ting a front bumper was 1.5 hours at $45 or $67.50. The new rate is 0.75 hours at $68, or $51.

The time al­lowances for panel re­pair work and for paint­ing did not change.

‘‘There was a groundswell of sym­pa­thy for re­pair­ers,’’ the business owner said.

‘‘This is to quell those is­sues. They wanted to look as if they were do­ing some­thing proac­tive about it.

‘‘It’s great that they are get­ting the re­pair­ers to pick up their stan­dards, but it’s still in their favour.’’

Crash

re­pair­ers had

been re­quired to sign a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment, he said.

As­ses­sors were also phon­ing to ask whether he had a cour­tesy car avail­able for clients. If the an­swer was ‘‘no’’, the re­pairer might not get the work.

If it was ‘‘yes’’, the re­pairer was not paid any ex­tra for that ser­vice.

Some poli­cies spec­ify a cour­tesy car for clients.

IAG claims ser­vice gen­eral man­ager Ruth Colenso said the company had un­der­taken a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of re­pair­ers and in­tro­duced tiered rates based upon cri­te­ria that re­flected their in­vest­ment in train­ing, equip­ment and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

The changes con­trib­uted to bet­ter out­comes for cus­tomers by pro­mot­ing higher re­pair stan­dards, and pro­vided re­pair­ers with clearer ex­pec­ta­tions for the business they re­ceive through the IAG net­work, Colenso said.

The new re­pairer times and al­lowances were more ac­cu­rate and were de­vel­oped with IAG’s re­pair method data and times de­rived from its Re­search Cen­tre in Syd­ney, as well as feed­back from New Zealand re­pair­ers.

De­spite the tighter al­lowances, IAG was ac­tu­ally spend­ing an ad­di­tional $8 mil­lion per year, fo­cused on its ap­proved re­pairer net­work.

‘‘The IAG Ap­proved Re­pairer agree­ment does not in­clude nondis­clo­sure about re­pair stan­dard mea­sures,’’ she said.

In­surance claim: A dam­aged head­light, which a crash re­pairer will re­ceive $17 for re­plac­ing, down from $22.

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