Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

FNC calls for standardisation of car-repair garages

Insurance companies are sending cars to second-rate garages

A rating system for car repair companies is needed to ensure vehicles are properly maintained and motorists are kept safe, the Federal National Council heard on Tuesday.

Ajman representative Sheikh Mohammed Al Nuaimi said he heard complaints from motorists who their cars to garages on the recommendation of insurance companies, but were dissatisfied when the vehicles were returned still faulty.

He called on the Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri, who is also the chairman of the Federal Insurance Authority (FIA), to introduce a standardised system that will rate garages.

“As there is no official rating system, insurance companies are contracting low-level garages and the cars are not returning fully repaired,” he said.

He said the Department of Economic Development in Dubai received 350 complaints about inadequate garages in 2017, and 700 last year.

The Insurance Authority’s annual report for 2017 showed that there were 7,000 complaints against car insurers generally.

“The main reason behind the complaints was owners’ dissatisfaction with the serviced provided by the repair shops,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Mr Al Mansouri said the FIA submitted a proposal for a classification system to the UAE Cabinet. The proposal categorises garages using a star rating system from 1 to 5, based on the quality of their services.

The system is pending cabinet approval but Mr Al Mansouri said he hopes it will be introduced across the UAE within the next three months.

“The only solution is to make all workshops subject to this rating system,” Mr Al Mansouri said.

Sheikh Mohammed argued that the rating system was first proposed four years ago and, with around 40,000 car workshops in the UAE, it will take a long time to implement the scheme.

He proposed that FIA begins rating workshops that are registered with insurance companies.

“Each company deals with 20 or 30 companies, 50 tops. So in total there is around 1,000 workshops that are contracted by insurers,” he said.

FNC members voted to pass Sheikh Mohammed’s recommendation on to the cabinet.

Hussam Arab, a car workshops’ supervisor at a semi-government company, said introducing a star rating system would solve many issues regarding quality regulation.

“The standardisation will force workshops to recruit adequate technicians and it will become mandatory for insurance companies to only deal with standardised workshops,” said Mr Arab.

He said garages can sometimes “play on body parts” to save money. “For instance, if the damaged part is made of plastic, they repair it with a blow dryer instead of replacing it with a new one.”

He said they can sometimes use car parts that are not suitable for the vehicle.

“If a car is less than five years old, it is mandatory to replace damaged parts with new ones, but what some shops do is they replace them with used parts.”

He said motorists should be clear on their rights according to their insurance policies.

“If the car is older than five years, insurance can replace it with either a new or used part, but that should not be the case for a new car.”

Updated: January 30, 2019 09:27 AM