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Insurers add to parts confusion

The addition of Far Eastern vehicle manufacturers to Thatcham’s ever increasing accredited parts catalogue has highlighted the fact that block exemption changes have yet to filter through the parts market.

One insurance company told AM it would not allow repairers to use non-OE parts because that would invalidate the customer’s ‘guarantee’.

The increasing use of non-OE parts also highlights a legal grey area over what charges repairers can make when using these parts. Repairers are also being advised to check their contracts with work providers and customers to see whether the use of OE parts is specified.

A spokeswoman for Direct Line says: “This is a problem for insurers. Manufacturers say they can’t guarantee parts that are not made by them, so we wouldn’t want our customers to lose their guarantee or the value of their car because it wasn’t repaired with manufacturer’s parts.”

Block exemption rules state that manufacturers’ warranties cannot be invalidated by using non-OE parts provided they are of ‘comparable quality’.

Esure say the use of aftermarket parts is entirely down to the repairer. Admiral also permits the use of these parts, and allows the repairer to keep the larger margin, although it prefers repairers to use the Q Parts range from supplier SSVG.

Solicitor Jeff Winn, writing on the ABP Club website, says: “Manufacturers’ parts must be fitted if the repairer has told either the customer, referrer or insurer that manufacturers’ parts will be fitted. If nothing is said or agreed on what type of parts can be fitted, the duty is to undertake a reasonable repair and use ‘suitable parts’ for the purpose.”

On charges, Winn says: “If no price or formula for fixing a price is agreed there is no reason why a repairer could not seek a reasonably high mark-up on the non-OE part from the insurer. The insurer could dispute it, but unless a contract says otherwise a reasonable charge for that part would be upheld.” ‘Reasonable’ is defined as the price other repairers would charge.

The Thatcham Parts Accreditation Scheme includes more than 120 visible components like bumpers and bonnets. The newly accredited Far Eastern suppliers are OTN and TKY of the Tong Yang Industry Group, API and Gordon Auto Body Parts.

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