NRMA stands by "unsafe" smash repair system

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 NRMA, one of Australia's largest insurers, has come under scrutiny following the release of a scathing report into its online smash repairs system.

The report by the New South Wales Government's Staysafe committee found that NRMA's online repair tendering system was "unsafe". NRMA has said it has no intention of suspending the system despite the findings.

The report, which was released yesterday found that "[The] system of allocating damaged motor vehicles to smash repairers without the repairers physically inspecting the damaged vehicle before quoting for work ... is an unsafe system in its current form". According to committee member and Port Stephens MP John Bartlett the vehicles were "being repaired to the standard of a brick and the crumple zones at the front and rear no longer worked and all the impact was being felt in the cabin".

According to the report "the system would lead to cost cutting and unsafe repair practices, with the quality of repairs lowered by encouraging smash repairers to take short cuts".

According to NRMA, only minor "cosmetic" repairs are put through the system - however often there can be further damage which is only evident after a complete inspection. The NRMA system simply places photographs of the vehicles on its website where approved smash repairers bid to carry out repairs.

David Brown, head of claims and assessments at NRMA, said this of the report: "[W]e totally reject the findings of the report, in fact we find the report's fundamentally flawed with no evidence of safety issues, and [it] has been prepared without seeing the system first-hand". He further added that the system would not be scrapped.

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