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Insuring your right to repair

With the controversy surrounding the Right to Repair codes of conduct currently being compiled by the Competition Commission, GAVIN MYERS finds out how this may affect insurance claims

First, what is the Right to Repair code? It’s a voluntary code of conduct set by the Competition Commission, which recognises that the owner of a vehicle has the right to choose a repairer. It’s not legislation, nor will it affect existing regulation around road safety or consumer protection.

Gunther Schmitz, the chairman of Right to Repair South Africa, comments that the code is not prescriptive, but is aimed at protecting consumers and offering them additional options.

“Competition is good for the consumer and is empowering,” he says, adding that the move follows a worldwide trend that started in the United States of America in which automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were required to open up maintenance and repairs to independent workshops, without the vehicle’s warranty being voided.

While the code has raised concerns among vehicle OEMs (citing safety risks, among other concerns), we wondered what effect it may have from the perspective of the insurance industry. The feedback received was surprisingly positive.

“The Right to Repair campaign is quite an interesting topic and we fully appreciate how emotive it can be. In principle our view is that any changes aimed at addressing barriers to entry and creating an inclusive economy are positive,” says Marvin Tshezi, head: claims procurement, operations, Hollard Insurance.

Sid Beeton, divisional transport manager, One Insurance, concurs: “For the trucker on the street, Right to Repair should be a good thing. It will help them from an insurance perspective.”

Beeton adds that One Insurance has never imposed restrictions on its clients in terms of where they can repair their vehicles. “We have approved repairers for our heavy commercial vehicle clients. Many of these repairers and clients have standing agreements anyway.”

Do either of them foresee any issues with the code?

Tshezi comments that the proposed changes need to be balanced with protecting the interest of the consumer, who cannot be left in a worse-off position after the repair work is effected. “Hollard has submitted its views on what it believes are critical considerations to ensure that the rights of the consumer – to whom the insurer has an obligation – are not compromised during the repair process,” he says.

Beeton comments that, while One Insurance does not foresee much issue with the Right to Repair from an insurance point of view, there may be some kickback from OEMs when it comes to warranties. “There will not be a huge impact on the larger transporters, who have more pulling power,” he adds.

“Consumers must be given the option to fix the things they own,” comments Schmitz.

Will it be as simple as that? We’ll have to wait for the final codes to be published to find out…

My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise, spank it at the track or go bundu-bashing (the mud-and-rocks-side-of-a-mountain type, not the exploring-Joburg’s-pavements type). Otherwise, chances are you’ll find me lying underneath one of my beloved toys or with my head buried in its engine bay, tinkering away.

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