While we welcome the publicity given to our efforts to stimulate debate on the need for a new bodyshop standard (Does your bodyshop shape up? Insurance Times, 28 August), we would like to see more dialogue within the insurer and repairer industries about exactly what this standard would need to cover.

The crux of our argument is that the increasing complexity of modern cars- with features such as carbon fibre, high strength adhesives and drive by wire systems - will force insurers to adopt new repairer standards and revise the way they direct work.

Only repairers who invest to the highest standards will be able to handle all these technologies and this number will inevitably be limited. Instead, a new independent, graded accreditation programme is needed, designed to tackle how work is distributed by insurers to different repairers with specific repair capabilities. The programme should also include guidelines on how to match repairer to repair.

ABS has outlined a model for this graded repairer system:

  • Grade one: equipment and expertise to carry out full structural repairs to all cars and light vans.
  • Grade two: equipment and ability to carry out major repairs, but not to prestige or cars requiring specialist manufacturers tooling.
  • Grade three: equipment and ability to carry out repairs to body, paintwork, trim and mechanical parts on non structurally damaged cars and light vans.
  • Grade four: equipment and ability to carry out light cosmetic repairs to body and paintwork.
  • We are suggesting these only as the starting point for a discussion that the insurance and repair industries need to have. It is clear to us that the current situation will not be adequate in the medium term and that solutions are required.

    Alan Hodgkinson
    Network director
    ABS Accident Solutions