Vehicle owners need road crash aid, insurance app

Nick Tan

Malaysia's digitalisation venture should extend to cover roadside assistance and insurance claims for crashes. – EPA pic, September 25, 2023.

DO you panic if you get into a road crash? Would you be calm enough to know what to do after a crash?

The digitalisation of the roadside assistance and claims process and integration with motor insurance/takaful providers (ITOs) would facilitate seamless post-crash procedure for motor vehicle owners.

An app that manages road assistance, insurance claims, vehicle inspection and repair will improve the convenience of vehicle owners and further protect the rights of vehicle owners by regulating the quality of inspection and repair.

The central bank has issued a five-year roadmap for digitisation (2022-2026).

Closing loopholes that exploit vehicle owners

After a crash, those involved are required to take pictures of their vehicles as evidence, file a police report within 24 hours, and call a towing service if necessary.

People may be unaware of this and forget what needs to be done or delay filing a police report. In the process, road crash victims may be threatened (causing safety concerns) and/or pay extra fees to runners or middlemen.

The towing company may send the vehicle to a workshop that does not deal with ITOs, and the workshop may use counterfeit or substandard materials, leading to quality concerns and inflated claims.

After the vehicle is sent to the workshop, the damage is assessed, the repair estimate is verified and the claim is submitted to the ITOs.

There is subjectivity and variation in damage estimates between the adjuster, the workshop and the ITOs.

Workshop operators then start repairs, but there is subjectivity in the quality and cost of repairs. There may be collusion between workshop operators and vehicle owners to inflate claims.

Finally, the claims are settled and reimbursed to those involved. The faster the above process, the faster they receive the money.

Policy roadmap improves claims process

By this year and next year, vehicle owners will be able to notify ITOs of road crashes, choose workshops, monitor the location of towed vehicles, submit claims, and receive updates on the progress of claims and repairs.

The central bank also aims to establish a code of conduct for repair shops and an independent framework for dispute resolution.

From 2025 to 2026, the central bank’s efforts will include coordinating with car manufacturers to enable automated crash detection sensors, digitisation and automation of damage assessment, and online police reporting systems.

With the roadmap, crash victims will simply need to open an app to request roadside assistance, get towing details and track locations, inform ITOs through a selected panel workshop, submit reports and evidence, and keep track of the claim and repair status.

I applaud the recent initiatives to improve the convenience of vehicle owners, such as only one theory test required for both motorcycle and car drivers, and the renewal of driver’s licences and road tax through Road Transport Department apps.

I hope the End-of-Life Vehicle policy will consider financial buffers that give vehicle owners ample time after their nine-year-maximum vehicle loan expires before applying for a new loan to purchase a new vehicle.

* Nick Tan Beng Teong graduated with Bachelor of Economics at University of Malaya. A member of Agora Society, Tan believes in policy reforms in order to build a better nation.

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