Being involved in an accident – big or small – is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. But, says Eddie Martin, National Director of the SA Motor Body Repair Association (SAMBRA) this is precisely the time when motorists need to keep a cool head and remember their rights and responsibilities. “Whether you are directly involved or witness to an accident, it is important to remember what needs to be done immediately following an accident, and what your rights are as a collision repair consumer.” Martin shares the following tips: Your responsibilities, following an accident: Your rights, as a vehicle repair customer The next step will be to work with your insurer to have your car repaired by a reputable motor body repair specialist (panel beater), if it is in a repairable condition. “Your car is one of the largest investments you are likely to make, and the decisions you make with regards to your vehicle’s repair will ultimately play a role in the future safety of your loved ones and preserving the value of your investment,” adds Martin. If your car is safe to drive and your insurance company has a drive-in claims service, make an appointment to have your car assessed. It is important to ascertain whether your car will require structural or non-structural repairs (your insurance company will be able to advise you on this, subsequent to an assessment of the damages). You have the right to choose which repair shop will look after your vehicle, but it is vital that you have your car repaired by an accredited and reputable repair specialist. If you do not have an existing relationship with a repairer, visit sambra.biz for a directory of accredited repair specialists in your area and make an appointment. Who pays? If the accident was your fault, your insurance will cover you, your vehicle, the other party and their vehicle – depending on the nature of your cover. However, if the accident wasn’t your fault, the other party’s insurance company should cover you and your vehicle. “Unfortunately, there are many drivers that are unlicensed, uninsured, or both, which can become a hassle if the accident wasn’t your fault,” says Martin. “We cannot stress enough the importance of third party insurance – which is an affordable solution for most South Africans. However, in the event that the guilty party wasn’t insured, your insurance company can try to recoup any of your repair expenses on your behalf and reimburse you. This process can take a long time, though.” Accidents are traumatic, but remembering your responsibilities and rights will be of great benefit. For more information on your consumer rights, call SAMBRA on 021 939 9440. Need repairs? Use the “Find A Repairer” Map on the home page. Download the Consumer Guide.