Motorists who have had the misfortune of being involved in road accidents are increasingly discovering that the friendliness and charm dished out by their insurer at the time of their policy renewal generally turns into unhelpfulness and apathy when a claim is raised.
Policy holders often find themselves at the mercy of insurers, having to wait interminably, for example, for their damaged vehicles to be repaired and returned.
But insurers deny any intent to cause inconvenience or grief to their customers. “The claim evaluation and vehicle repair process can be long-drawn, particularly if the vehicle has suffered serious damage. Often, it can take more than a month to fix the car,” said a technician employed by a Muscat-based firm.
Speaking to Observer, the technician — who did not wish to be named —said a motor vehicle claim typically generates a long paperwork. “First of all, the relevant papers must be submitted to the insurance company, along with a detailed report of the accident. Next, the technicians will have to undertake a complete survey of the vehicle, assess the condition of damaged parts, and file a comprehensive report of his findings. It is only after this exercise that the insurer will decide on a suitable garage for the repairs.”
According to Charles, an expat mechanic in a local automotive workshop, the selected garage also takes some time to carry out a thorough check of the vehicle and submit its quotation to the insurance company.
“Typically, the garage will make a complete list of parts that will be required for the repairs, along with a list of car body repairs, and the labour involved. It generally takes about a week for the insurer to agree on this quotation. For minor jobs, repairs can take about a week, extending to several months if the damage is serious.”
In contrast, repairs that do not involve an insurance company will take less than a week to be executed, Charles pointed out.
But policyholders say their experience with their insurers is far from pleasant.
Take the case of S J, a salaried Omani private sector employee stationed in Muscat. “Three weeks ago, I met with a minor accident. As it was not my fault, I was at the mercy of a company that had insured the other vehicle involved in the mishap. Three weeks on, I am still waiting for my vehicle to be repaired and returned to me. The authorities should penalise insurers for this undue delay in handling claims.”
Salim Ali, an employee of a well-known insurance firm, says insurers are being unfairly attacked. “My company shoulders hefty expenses every year paying for the repair and maintenance of accident-damaged vehicles, treatment of the injured in hospital, and sometimes even compensation when death occurs.
Just imagine what will be the consequences if motorists did not insure their vehicles. Where would these payments come from?” he remarked.
But insurance is also something of a double-sword. Motorists, mindful that they are comprehensively insured, are likely to be less careful when driving and thereby cause accidents. This mindset is responsible for a number of road accidents. After all, the driver gets away with a fee of not more than RO 50, with all other costs borne by their insurer.
Hammam Al Badi