Is Your Insurer Putting Used Parts In Your Vehicle?

Has your vehicle been in an accident? What’s your insurer fitting your vehicle with? We find out if used parts in insured vehicles are legal.
Melissa Cohen
2017-08-21
Being involved in an accident is always a stressful experience. Not only on your physical and emotional well-being, but also on your pocket. A damaged vehicle can set you back thousands of Rands, depending on the extent of the damage. If you have insurance, you are assured that your vehicle will be repaired. But how do you know that the insurer is putting the right parts into your vehicle? What is the law about used parts and are insurance companies allowed to legally use these parts in your car?
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What Are Used / After-Market Parts? 

Claiming from an insurer is one thing, but have you ever asked what type of parts are being put into your vehicle? A used part is something that has already been in another vehicle that has been in an accident and has been turned into scrap. The parts are then tested for quality purposes and thereafter, put into cars that have been in an accident and are in need of parts. The other option is known as 'after-market' parts. These parts can be defined as any parts that are not directly sourced from the manufacturer. They may be sourced from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) who make the 'genuine parts'.
"The difference is that the OEM’s part will have the OE’s badge. While the 'branded' parts will carry the manufacturers brand. In other cases the parts are made by a third party at the specifications set, including quality," explains South Africa Insurance Association's General Manager of Insurance Risks, Nico Esterhuizen.

So What Is Your Insurer Allowed To Do?

According to Santam's website, the majority of claims are motor accident claims. In fact, around 70% of all claims are linked to vehicles. With this being said, insurance companies are under a lot of pressure to ensure that clients' damaged vehicles are fixed.
"The purpose of insurance is one of indemnification and not enrichment. Most insurers would strive to put the customer in the position they were in before they suffered  a loss," explains Esterhuizen.
The Insurance Ombudsman, Mr. Brian Martin, makes a point of mentioning that the cost of vehicle repairs are at a steady increase.
"If premiums are to be kept at reasonable levels and increases in premiums within similar bounds, it is imperative that everything possible be done to keep repair costs down, but at the same time without compromising safety or quality standards."
Esterhuizen emphasizes the importance of quality parts in damaged vehicles. He says that all after market and used parts have to undergo a quality test. This is to ensure that it matches up to the quality standards of new parts of its kind.
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What If Your Vehicle Is Still Under Warranty? 

Every case is different and it all depends on the vehicle and the extent of the damage. The argument is of course, if you are a new vehicle owner, would you settle for after market parts in your brand new vehicle?
"If it is economical to repair them [vehicles], insurers are obliged to use original factory supplied parts where the warranty or maintenance plan of a vehicle is still active," says Esterhuizen.
Although this is the rule, you might never know what parts they are putting in your vehicle. It's advisable to request a quote of all the parts fitted. This is to ensure that you are getting what they claim to be providing.

But What Does Your Policy Say? 

The Ombudsman has agreed that in order to cut costs, insurers are allowed to use after-market parts on their clients' damaged vehicles. So will your insurer tell you what parts will be put into your vehicle?
"Most policies do state that the onus rests upon the insurer to either repair, replace or pay cash. Therefore, the use of after-market parts is also used as a cost saving measure," adds Esterhuizen.
You are encouraged however, to request to see a quality certification for the parts that are being fitted before they are fitted. Basically, if the cost of the parts are expensive to repair then your premium will increase. Insurers believe that they are doing the client a service by making the repairs cheaper. If you feel uncomfortable about where your insurer wants you to take your vehicle, find a dealership that specializes in your vehicle's brand. That way, you can feel fairly confident with the products that you are receiving.
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