Fleet News

Warning over sub-standard body repairs

VEHICLE bodyshops could be putting drivers at risk on the road because of sub-standard work on repairs, an industry expert is warning.

Repair specialist Alan Hodgkinson is calling on fleets to hammer home to insurers that any work on fleet vehicles must be of the highest standards to ensure fleets are meeting their duty of care to drivers.

Hodgkinson, chief executive of repairer network ABS, said: 'With the issuing of the Health and Safety Executive's Driving at Work report, we are seeing a situation arise where the responsibility for ensuring that all fleet operations are carried out to a high quality, auditable level, falls legally on the fleet manager and his or her directors.

This includes the responsibility to ensure that suppliers like insurers and repairers are meeting standards that would stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.

'Our worry is that practices used by some motor insurers would not pass close examination.'

The HSE's report states that vehicles used for work-related purposes must have repairs carried out to an 'acceptable standard'. Hodgkinson believes that some insurers are not reaching these standards.

He said: 'Many repairers used by insurers are recruited as much on price as on quality of repair and the methods used to assess quality are sometimes crude.

'Most insurers have very limited post repair checks in place as well and these are generally designed to ensure that the repairer has been honest in charging for parts rather than determining whether the repairer itself is of an acceptable standard.'

Since the changes to block exemption came into force last October, it has been possible for a dealer to choose whether to carry out repairs and servicing itself, or sub-contract them to an authorised third party.

According to the Authorised Independent Repairers Organisation (AIRO), only 3% of garages had applied for approved repair status a month after new car distribution block exemption rules were introduced (Fleet NewsNet, February 10)

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