Big used car change planned for South Africa

The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) plans to open its Vehicle Salvage Database (VSD) to the public in a move that will help stop previously written-off and poorly repaired vehicles from re-entering the used market.

The VSD system contains information on salvage vehicles. These are vehicles that have been deregistered by the respective insurers and thus declared salvage, after policyholders have been indemnified of their motor claims.

A vehicle is considered salvage by the non-life insurance industry if it is ‘written-off’ following, for instance, a motor accident. The insurer would have assessed the damaged vehicle including the repair costs. If the motor assessor deems the cost of repairs to be uneconomical to repair, the vehicle would then be declared a ‘write-off’.

When a written-off vehicle is sold, the respective code is disclosed to the buyer. In this, the non-life insurance industry ensures that the relevant stakeholders who buys the salvage vehicle is fully informed of the state of the vehicle being sold, and therefore how the respective vehicle should be treated going forward. For instance, a ‘Code 4’ is a permanently demolished vehicle.

Changes incoming 

In response to queries from BusinessTech, SAIA said that its VSD task team met in February and agreed, in principle, to the following terms:

  • All Code 3, 3A and 4 written off vehicles will be published on the site. It was agreed to discuss in more detail the extent of access to code 2 written off vehicles in the next meeting;
  • The description of the codes will align with the SAIA salvage code;
  • ID numbers and geo-location will be used to identify any abuse of the site/information;
  • The site will be funded by the Task Team participants to retain its independence and will not be used to generate revenue;
  • A comprehensive communication programme will be developed to ensure all consumers are made aware of the site.

“Exploratory discussions started in November 2021 and have reached a stage where a potential first step proposal on a way forward will be taken for discussion to the SAIA board,” said chief executive Viviene Pearson

“Once the SAIA Board has had an opportunity to deliberate on the proposed way forward that will be tabled at the next SAIA Board meeting on 10 March 2022, SAIA will be in a better position to make available further information.”

Why hasn’t the database always been open? 

The primary reason the VSD system database was created was to combat crime.

SAIA has previously warned that if the database is made public, against the Protection of Personal Information Act, it then allows criminals to have access to the entire non-life insurance industry database of scrapped vehicle VINs.

If this were to happen, both the banking industry and the non-life insurance industry would see a dramatic increase in false financing and insurance of cloned vehicles, it said.

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Big used car change planned for South Africa