The Botswana Insurance Company may find itself facing litigation from clients who are being denied the right to choose their preferred panel beaters despite stipulations in their agreement with the insurance company.
In an apparent bid to quell the disquiet among its members, BIC this week ran a half page advert in one of the country’s tabloid size newspapers explaining that “it had introduced a panel of approved motor vehicle repairers’ claiming that “ all motor vehicle repairers on the approved panel have met BIC’s stringent standard for workshop equipment and standards.”
Sunday Standard investigations have, however, revealed that most of the panel beaters in the panel do not have basic panel beating equipment. The Sunday Standard can reveal that of the list of 25 panel beaters on the list, only three have a chassis bench. The three are Webbs Motors, Carfil Services and Mogoditshane Motors. The chassis bench, which is the only way to fix bent chassis in motor vehicles that have been involved in accidents, costs about P1 million Pula, which is far above the means of most repairers on the BIC list.
Sunday Standard investigations have also revealed that most of the repairers on the list either do not have spray booths or use make shift booths. A spray booth is a room that ensures high quality painting by protecting repainted cars against the elements and ensuring proper baking at optimum temperatures.
Most of the repairers also do not have spot welders and use the out-dated oxy acetylene torches which do not meet most manufacturers’ standards.
BIC Claims Manager, Newton Zazire, would not answer Sunday Standard questions, referring all enquiries to Managing Director, Dziki Nganunu, and Finance Manager, Joan Klassen, both of whom did not answer their cell phones.
BIC was last week facing a backlash of customers who are unhappy with the new deal that also make it difficult for customers to take their vehicles to panel beaters of their choice.
Sunday Standard is in possession of correspondence between BIC and some of its customers who are unhappy with the new development.
BIC recently signed a new service level agreement with panel beaters binding them to use second hand parts for vehicles older than three years. There were fears among some BIC customers, especially with vehicles that are on a five year motor plan that the new agreement may clash with manufacturers warranty standards.
BIC customers will also lose out on the wide choice of panel beaters currently enjoyed by customers of competing insurance companies. So far, only 25 panel beaters have signed the agreement throughout the country and BIC is forcing its clients to use only those that have signed the agreement.
Indications are that the criteria for appointing the BIC panel of panel beaters will flare up into another controversy.
Industry insiders believe that the recent move by BIC underlies the cash crunch faced by short term insurance companies, which are now moving towards cutting back on quality to push up their profits.
This is given credence by a provision in the agreement which binds panel beaters to giving BIC discount based on the volume of business they bring.
The agreement comes only a year after the only Botswana short term insurance company, General Insurance Botswana (GIB), was liquidated following cash flow problems.