Insurance claim delays: Red tape, or lack of panelbeaters?
When Tauranga woman Lisa Bryce had to make a claim on her vehicle insurance policy this month, she wanted it resolved quickly. "It was rather urgent."
A window on her husband's van had been removed when someone broke into the vehicle overnight, and they needed it replaced quickly. Bryce said she was particularly worried that she might be kept waiting by the glass company.
But it was resolved quickly. "Our insurance people put us on to Novus within hours of our call and it was taken care of that day, at no cost to us."
While Bryce had a positive experience, insurers have been criticised for the time it takes them to resolve claims.
READ MORE: More panelbeaters and apprentices needed to match increased collisions
Research released by the Collision Repair Association (CRA), an industry body covering hundreds of panel beaters from around New Zealand, shows the average time taken to repair a vehicle is around six days - of which more than two days is lost in administration between the insurer and vehicle repairer.
CRA general manager Neil Pritchard said the level of red tape required for each repair was unnecessarily high and meant the customer was without their vehicle for longer than they should be.
"Under the current model, the typical repair process requires the insurer to accept a claim for repairs, assess the vehicle, then authorise the panel beater to quote on the repairs. Once the estimate is accepted the panel beater can begin repairs.
"The issue is there is no industry standard covering the documentation required for an insurance claim and some insurers are regularly making requests for additional information after the estimate has been submitted by the repairer.
"The time taken up with completing this extra paperwork can be as long as the repair itself; for the customer this means their car is off the road for up to twice as long as it needs to be," he said.
Pritchard says some of the country's largest insurers have the longest administration time with IAG, NZI, State and AMI group considered by respondents the most bureaucratic.
He said his organisation's research showed Vero/AMP, Youi and Zurich were rated as the slowest to assess, process and authorise claims with Medical Assurance, FMG and AA Insurance the fastest.
But the Insurance Council, with represents insurers, said it was a shortage of panel beaters that was causing problems.
Chief executive Tim Grafton said the research was an "empty beat-up" to disguise a failure to address the problem.
"He has a short memory because earlier this year his organisation approached the Insurance Council to partner in joint communications regarding their skills shortage causing delays in car repairs.
"Pritchard is creating tension between the smash repair industry and insurers that is unnecessary," he said.
"The CRA needs to wake up to the real issues with delays in repairs.
"They need more skilled staff who know how to work with high-tech cars and they need more staff in repair shops in the major cities where we have seen an increase in both cars on the road and crashes" he said.
"There will always be cost negotiations between panelbeaters wanting more profit and insurers wanting to keep costs down so that insurance remains affordable for everyone.
All insurers are asking for is the evidence of the damage to support the recovery of the costs which is no more than any other business requires when paying for services" he said.