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Responding to the challenge of rising vehicle repair costs

At a glance

  • The emergence of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), along with the increasing use of more expensive materials, is leading to rising vehicle repair costs
  • With many replacement parts sourced from elsewhere within the EU, the cost of repairs could increase further in the event of a no-deal Brexit
  • Zurich Private Clients works with a network of approved repairers to provide a fast and reliable service and keep costs to a minimum

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Cars – and especially high-value vehicles – are increasingly being fitted with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed to improve safety.

While technologies such as autonomous emergency braking, intelligent speed adaptation, and pedestrian detection, can help to make accidents less likely, they are also driving up the cost of repairs when collisions do occur.

According to a 2017 study by the Association of British Insurers, the average cost of repairing a car rose by 33% in the previous four years (2013 – 2017).

The complexity of modern cars

Whereas 10 or 15 years ago, fixing a car following a prang might have been a relatively simple process, the presence of cameras, sensors and other intelligent gadgetry within modern automotive components makes things more complicated.

Robert McWilliams, Approved Repairer Vendor Manager for Zurich, explains: “If a vehicle is installed with ADAS, everything has to work exactly as it should, or the safety of the driver, passengers and other motorists could be compromised.

“In the event of a collision, you would need authentic replacement parts that align with the car’s ADAS, and to have the appropriate initialisations and calibrations carried out at an approved body shop.”

Parts manufacturers are also increasingly using more expensive materials – such as high-strength steels, carbon fibre and magnesium alloys – in order to make vehicles lighter and reduce emissions.

The impact of Brexit on repair costs

The situation could become even more challenging after Brexit. Should Britain leave the EU without a deal, World Trade Organisation rules would apply, meaning car parts would be taxed at 10% every time they crossed the EU-UK border.

“Brexit is going to have a major impact,” says Robert. “Most car parts are sourced from outside Britain, which means they could become much more expensive for motorists here. Lead times will increase, too, as parts will need to be checked over before they are exported.”

Zurich Private Clients’ approach to repairs

Zurich Private Clients is committed to helping customers get back on the road with the minimum of cost and fuss in the event of a claim.

From the moment a client reports a collision, our claims handlers will take control of the situation, arranging for the vehicle to be recovered and any necessary repair work to be carried out.

To ensure that repairs are completed satisfactorily, and at a fair price, Zurich Private Clients have an approved repairer network – that has nationwide databases of trusted and approved repairers.

“Using the Zurich approved repairer network, we are able to steer clients towards bodyshops that have the correct certificates and audit processes,” says Robert.

“Unauthorised body shops can charge whatever they like. You hear examples of people being charged a labour rate of £120 per hour. Using the correct channels, we can keep costs down to around half that. And clients also get a guarantee that their car will be repaired correctly.”

Zurich Private Clients will handle all communications with the repair centre, feeding back information to the client at every stage of the process. And while all this is going on, the client will be supplied with a replacement vehicle of a similar standard, minimising any inconvenience.

In the case of a total loss, the handler will either arrange a settlement to be paid – sometimes in as little as 24 hours – or for a replacement vehicle to be supplied.

To find out more about our Zurich Private Clients products, speak to your Account Executive or call us on 0800 302 9080.

Image © Getty

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