The panelbeating industry is a tough business these days, and it’s about to get tougher. As car technology and road safety improve, the collision repair industry shrinks. The accident rate has been trending down for decades and while a good thing in itself, the repair sector is being squeezed, and at the same time working harder for lower rates.
Insurance companies have tight controls over the car accident repair market, but at least customers can (usually) still choose their own panelbeater or accident management service in most cases.
This about to change. As expected, AA Insurance have just announced (NZ Herald, March 20) they’re going into the panelbeating business. Their first SMART (small to medium area repair technology) repair shop is due to open in Auckland soon, with the intention of ring-fencing all drivable car accident claims. Anything left over will be directed to a privately owned ‘AA approved’ panel shop. The AA Insurance spokesperson says “We do not expect the introduction of a SMART shop into our Quality Repairer Network to have any significant impact on our existing repairers.” Hmmm, we’re not sure how that’s possible? AA Insurance says they need to do this to improve customer service and reduce repair times. Hmmmm, Crash Management contracts over 100 high quality panelbeating shops throughout the country and we (and our clients) believe these owner/operator facilities provide outstanding customer service. Our clients include some of the largest vehicle fleets in NZ, and they know that professional accident management minimises time-off-the-road and provides a fast, efficient, professional result. Why therefore is the SMART repair shop really needed?
AA Insurance is a joint-venture between the Automobile Association NZ and SunCorp, one of Australia’s mega-insurers. SMART repairs are used extensively in Australia and are sure to grow in NZ. Australian corporates, particularly banks and insurance companies, have a reputation for imposing ‘Aussie Rules’ in NZ to maximise their profits and generally kiwis don’t like that. Should the NZ collision repair industry be afraid?