It has now been revealed that some of the country’s biggest insurers are repairing damaged cars by using second-hand parts that are obtained from various salvage companies. This sounds like a trick for insurers to lower their costs and increase their profits, right? Well, there are a few reasons why that isn’t the case.
It is actually good news for those of us with older cars that are often sent to be scrapped when an insurer deems the car not economically viable to repair after an accident. Before now, older car owners were often only offered a couple of hundred pounds as a settlement for their car to be scrapped; not enough to cover the cost of buying a new car, and it’s hard work trying to find the rest of the money to go out and buy a new car. Having the option of used car parts being fitted and giving them a second chance with their car is great, solving the issue of cost and scrapping a car that can still be salvaged.
It does raise the question though, of how comfortable people will feel driving round with second-hand parts that could have already been in an accident on the previous car. Because of this, insurers are only fitting second-hand parts to cosmetic areas, such as panels. They are promising not to use mechanical or safety parts with any second-hand ones.
This decision will help the UK meet the recycling and environmental targets that are set by the EU, adding an environmental benefit. One of the downsides of this is that whilst insurers can obtain these used parts from the salvagers for only 30% of the cost for a new part, accepting these second-hand parts does not give you any reduction in your car insurance.
There is also a concern about the quality of the parts that have been raised. The head of recycling at the European car manufacturer group ACIA, Wolfgang Reinhardt, has admitted that there is a reduction in quality as a part gets used. To counter this, the parts will be supplied by members of a National Salvage Group, which have promised that any part will have the same warranty as a brand new part.
Car insurers are definitely under a certain amount of legislative pressure; the 2000 European End of Life Vehicles Directive has set a series of strict targets on the re-use and the recycling of vehicles. The AA and the RAC are supporting the programme, providing that all policyholders are consulted explicitly before any repair is carried out with the used parts.
The success of this will depend massively on how the insurers market the idea to their policyholders and what benefits are offered; the offer of a reduced excess, or a cheaper premium could help swing it for many.
To find a part on your own terms, consider visiting a breakers yard. They can often be cheaper than going through your insurance.