After any kind of vehicle accident, securing a comprehensive repair estimate from a trustworthy repairer should be the first step to getting your car back on the road.
Richard Green, National Director of SAMBRA (the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) representing over 900 motor body repair businesses across South Africa, says when deciding which quote to proceed with, bear in mind the cheapest estimate is rarely the best option.
“The disruption accident damage can cause should not overshadow the need to get a quality repair estimate,” says Green. “Always choose the company that provides the most thorough quote and which you feel most comfortable trusting.
“Ensure the motor body repair facility is qualified and thorough enough to find and assess all the damage. While you can send in photographs of the damage or have a consultation over the phone, it remains important to take your car in for a proper inspection and comprehensive repair assessment.”
SAMBRA-accredited motor body repairers all employ highly trained and experienced accident-damage estimators who will conduct a visual inspection of the vehicle to assess the level of damage, including the internal damage and assess which parts need to be replaced.
Green says the first estimate will typically only include the visible damage. Once the claim is authorized and technicians start stripping the exterior of your car, they will most likely find even more damage which can result in additional repair costs.
“Most accredited motor body repair service centres use internationally accredited estimating programmes to create estimates and will forward these to your insurance company,” he says.
And, as most insurance policies have excesses on vehicle repair claims, consumers should also understand their policy beforehand and what portion of the total cost of repair is for their cost.
“The ‘excess’ is the portion of the claim you must pay for. The primary reason for an excess is to ensure motorists do not feel tempted to claim for every small loss.
Green advises that in order for your vehicle to be released by the repairer following the repair work, you will need to pay the excess, even if you are unhappy with the amount, and then dispute it with your insurance company.
“If you don’t pay the excess you could, for example, end up having to pay storage costs to the repairer while you dispute the excess with your insurer. It is, therefore, always advisable to first resolve a dispute over excess with your insurer before commencing with a claim.
“If you are still not happy, then your next step is to contact the office of the Ombudsman for short-term insurance.”
In summary, Green says when seeking a repair estimate, firstly, take your car to a reliable, SAMBRA accredited motor body repair shop and, secondly, ensure you are 100% sure of what your excess on the claim will be.
“Remember too, when it comes to insurance claims, it is the depreciated value of your vehicle that will be considered. The older your car, the smaller the insured value will be and the greater the chance that your insurer will choose to declare the vehicle uneconomical to repair and write it off, depending on the amount of damage and cost of repair.