Historically, the selection of panel repairers by insurers in Malaysia has been an opaque process. This led Allianz Malaysia Berhad (Allianz Malaysia) to take a more transparent and effective approach in picking its automobile repair service partners.
In August, the company departed from the common practice by being the first insurer to hold an open tender to invite car workshops under the PIAM Approved Repairers Scheme (PARS) to join its panel of repairers.
Allianz Malaysia CEO Zakri Khir says the panel repairer selection process needs to be revamped as the company wants to provide an equal opportunity to all repairers and uplift the performance and service of its panel. The last revamp was done in 2017, so it was about time that the company looked into it.
“We felt the need for our repairers to incorporate our values, our culture and to have an Allianz Malaysia look and feel. Everything should be in accordance with a certain set of prescriptions,” he explains.
“For example, the new panel of repairers must be able to give a two-year warranty for repair works performed and for repairers outside Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, they must also be able to provide both accident and roadside assistance services (on the spot assistance and towing services). It is really about good customer service and ensuring that repair works performed are safe and roadworthy.”
Allianz Malaysia also included other criteria such as competitive rates and value-added services to be provided to customers.
“Our requirements for our panel of repairers are very strict. If a repairer gets a customer complaint and we find that the customer is right, we will issue a warning. If it happens a second time, we will suspend the workshop and if it happens a third time, we will remove it from the panel,” said Zakri.
“We are in the business of protection. In this case, we need to protect our customers and ensure not just their personal safety but also the safety and roadworthiness of their vehicles.”
These requirements are all set out in the tender Allianz Malaysia puts up online, so it will be for the repairers to decide whether they are able to meet them.
Previously, individual repairers would approach the insurer and express their interest in applying to be on the panel or insurers would have to manually go through the list of PIAM-approved repairers.
This process resulted in a lack of transparency, according to Zakri, with some repairers having a “quid pro quo” relationship with insurers. On the other hand, an open tender process provides transparency and is also subject to governance and audits.
“The industry demands good governance, transparency and accountability. With this tender exercise and panel selection, repairers will be compelled to professionalise. It also allows us to keep to our commitment of ensuring the standard of services provided,” says Zakri.
Allianz Malaysia invited all repairers to take part in the online open tender process through the Merimen Online system — an online platform where insurers can submit claims and communicate with repairers — and received a total of 660 applications. The group has approved 170 workshops so far.
Zakri says the revamp in Allianz Malaysia’s selection process was also made possible as the company now has better statistics in terms of the probability of accidents and towing requirements across the country.
“We have mapped out the areas in which accidents are more likely to happen and we picked repairers that are in the proximity of the area. We also have our Allianz Road Rangers patrolling near certain spots where breakdowns are more likely to happen.”
Panel repairers are an integral part of Allianz General’s Road Rangers, the company’s 24-hour accident service. Customer touchpoints via this service include a 24-hour Helpline Assistance, an Allianz Road Rangers fleet of over 150 trucks nationwide and a First Response Bike Brigade, Claims Concierge Service, e-hailing Voucher, Claims Express Approval and Vehicle Delivery.
Since its launch in 2017, over 240,000 customers (as at June 2020) have benefited from the Allianz Road Rangers services.
While the shift in the panel selection process allows for greater transparency, there has been resistance from some repairers as it threatens the status quo.
Zakri opines that many repairers have “had a great time” in the past years under the quid pro quo arrangements they had with insurers.
“Some repairers were not happy with the new arrangement. On the other hand, there were also many good repairers that never had the chance to be on the panel because they didn’t subscribe to the quid pro quo arrangement or they didn’t know the right people. These repairers were very eager to apply to join our panel,” he says.
Meanwhile, from the customers’ point of view, he adds, the turnaround time is likely to be faster as repair time is estimated to be shorter by 10% to 20%, with the service now being seamless from the initial towing to the repairing of the vehicle.
Other industry players have also taken notice of Allianz Malaysia’s open tender process, with some asking whether they could use the insurer’s tender specifications as a basis for their own tenders.
“We are very happy to assist other insurers because this is not about competition — it is about providing good service to the customer. I believe others will follow suit. It’s a step in the right direction,” Zakri says.
He hopes the industry as a whole will employ open tenders in the future, not only for picking repairers but also other service providers as well.