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New deal for Victorian smash repairers

Smashing: Industry changes mooted for Victoria will benefit motorists and ensure higher consistency in vehicle repair work, according to VACC executive director Geoff Gwilym.

Milestone deal between VACC, IAG insurance group aims to stamp out ‘cash settling’

General News logo7 Sep 2015

By NEIL DOWLING

VICTORIAN motorists stand to benefit from faster accident repair times under a new initiative struck between the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and the Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

The smash repair industry benefits package, launched today and effective from October 2015, was negotiated by the VACC and follows similar moves by the Motor Trades Associations of South Australia and Western Australia.

The package will also translate to IAG-affiliated smash repairers in Queensland.

VACC executive director Geoff Gwilym said the changes would eliminate unnecessary delays to starting repairs and improve repairers’ cash flow, as well as providing a better customer experience.

The benefits package, negotiated by VACC with members of the IAG, includes abolishing the practice of ‘cash settling’ (where a customer chooses to accept a lower cash settlement offer from an insurer in lieu of repairs), as well as providing all repairers with access to IAG’s Online Repair Management (ORM) system.

A commitment has also been made by IAG – whose commercial insurance businesses include NRMA, RACV, Lumleys and Coles Insurance – to pay its repairers within 48 hours, regardless of their relationship status, when using the ORM.

The ORM system allows repairers to start work on damaged vehicles quickly and aims to deliver prompt electronic payments to the repairers, according to the VACC.

Formalising transactions digitally has the potential to not only reduce the instances where a customer will elect to drive away in a damaged car, but to remove the potential for predatory or fraudulent behaviour between insurance assessors and workshops.

“The VACC commends the approach to encouraging the reduction of cash settlements in the body repair industry,” Mr Gwilym said.

“This type of initiative is improving operational standards in the industry which in turn means a focus is placed on getting the customer back on the road as soon as possible.

“Other industry-based initiatives, like shop grading, can work hand-in-hand with initiatives like this by recognising levels of accreditation achieved by individual body repair shops, which is a direct reflection of their repair capacity and quality performance.”

IAG’s head of supply chain, Steven Bubulj, said that the initiative aligned with the organisation’s commitment to deliver an industry-leading, consistent repair model nationally.

“These changes signify the partnership approach IAG has committed to with the industry’s key bodies,” Mr Bubulj said.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates what constructive and mutually beneficial relationships can achieve for the benefit of all industry participants.” The changes will come into effect from October 6, 2015

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