Motorists who do not have insurance on their vehicles run the risk of having to make significant financial outlays in the event of crashes, not only for themselves but for others involved in these incidents as well. The Automobile Association (AA) says it remains concerned that less than 35% of vehicles in the country are insured.
“Vehicle insurance is not a legal requirement in South Africa. According to the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) about 65% of South African motorists are not insured. There are approximately one million road accidents reported annually in South Africa, which means there is a high chance that a crash will occur with an uninsured driver,” notes the AA.
Data from around the world shows that insurance policies improve the overall risk management of policyholders which, in turn encourages road users to exercise greater caution and care on the road.
“The risk of not having vehicle insurance means that when uninsured motorists are involved in a crash and they are at fault, they will have to pay for the damages to their own vehicle and the other vehicle out of their own pocket. This could leave these drivers with several major issues, including not enough money to cover repairs on their own vehicle and therefore leave them without transport, and financially worse off than they would have been with insurance,” says the AA.
Besides the safety aspect, increasing the number of insured drivers on the roads will translate into a reduction in the cost of motor insurance, which is the main reason that motorists cite for not having vehicle insurance.
But this concerning statistic also holds many challenges for motor body repairers who are essential players in the automotive ecosystem. These challenges include but are not limited to:
- Reduced Client Base: With only 35% of vehicles insured, motor body repairers face a restricted client base. Uninsured vehicle owners may not have the financial means to cover the repair costs, limiting the potential customers for these repair businesses. This lack of insurance coverage places a strain on the profitability and sustainability of motor body repair shops.
- Financial Strain: Repairing a vehicle, especially in cases of significant damage, can be an expensive endeavour. When uninsured vehicle owners are unable to pay personally for these repairs, it puts a significant financial strain on motor body repairers. This can lead to cash-flow challenges, making it difficult for these businesses to invest in equipment, training and expansion.
- Inconsistent Workload: The inconsistency of work for motor body repairers in a market where only a fraction of vehicles is insured creates a challenge in maintaining a steady workload. These businesses may experience seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns more acutely than industries with a more insured customer base.
- Competitive Pressure: To compensate for the challenges posed by the low insurance rate, motor body repairers may be forced into competitive pricing, potentially compromising their service quality. The pressure to lower prices can undermine their ability to invest in skilled labour, technology and advanced repair techniques, ultimately affecting the quality of service they provide.
As South Africa continues to grapple with this issue, it’s crucial for motor body repairers to find innovative ways to adapt and ensure their long-term sustainability in a challenging market. It is also an issue that should be of concern to policymakers and insurance providers, who may need to explore measures to increase insurance coverage rates in the country to support the motor body repair industry.