It sounds like it has. Sam Street caught up with John Guest and Morry Corvasce from the VACC, to find out the significance of the recent Code of Conduct changes.
One of the biggest criticisms of the original Code of Conduct published in 2006 was that there was no effective dispute resolution process. What's the point of having a code if there is no way to bring those breaking it to task? The code has been updated four times since its inception, each update taking months if not years to achieve. Given that the Code Administration Committee (CAC) is made up of the repairer community and insurers – both of whom have different agendas and business imperatives.
John Guest and the Body Repair Division - Code, Sub Committee VACC made a breakthrough when they developed the IDR (internal dispute resolution) website back in 2016. Having a central website for disputes highlighted recurring problems which led to the majority of these being resolved. The website also demonstrated clearly that only legitimate disputes were pursued, eliminating any frivolous claims This ensured a better and more efficient process for all stakeholders.
What's new in the 2017 Code is the external dispute process (EDR). If the issue is not resolved in the IDR process it will be referred to the the local small business commission for mediation. This was where the process ground to a halt previously and a repairer or insurer might have to go to court for a resolution which is costly and time-consuming, taking up to 12 months.
Now, if the issue isn't resolved at this stage (EDR) the matter is put to a final authority who views the case 'anonymously'. More importantly the judgement is binding and in most cases, there has been a positive outcome for both parties.
While it might take six to 12 months for a repairer to take an insurer to court using this new code system the matter can be resolved between within a matter of weeks.
"What is also significant is that the information that we are obtaining through the disputes process is assisting AMBRA to improve the Code in its entirety," said Corvasce. "Ultimately this bolsters a better relationship between the insurance and repair iIndustry. This is what the Code was originally designed to do"
“Of course wherever possible it's best to try to resolve an issue without even an IDR. However, if there is a dispute then this is a much quicker way to settle it which means the consumer gets their car back sooner," said Guest. “It also takes away the pain away from all of our AMBRA members and is a fixed, low cost alternative".
The idea behind this three-step process is to minimise litigation and support the consumer. “Out of 100s of IDRs lodged last year, over a dozen are either in progress and/or have been processed through the Small Business Commission." Guest said.
How long is a piece of string?
The 2017 code abolishes the 'how long will it take to assess this car?' guessing game. Insurers have agreed a maximum period of five business days for an assessment and work is being done by both sides of the industry to improve the assessment time frames that is currently being imposed by some insurers.
Legitimate costs have been something of a grey area. There have been issues on both sides with insurers refusing to pay storage and tow-truck fees if the car is moved to another facility for repair and repairers charging unreasonable sums for storage. The IDR builder has highlighted many of these issues and because the website builds data nationally there is now a way of proving how widespread an issue is.
"AMBRA, through the extensive consultation with the (CAC) is determined as a collective through the ongoing efforts of all the state associations to ensure that we ultimately have an effective Code that creates a balance within the industry for all stakeholders," Corvasce said.
You can download the 2017-03-29-Code-of-Conduct here.