VACC and consumer groups have expressed concern over the loss of freedom for consumers to choose their own crash repairer in the event of accident damage. Many consumers are not aware a problem may exist until they make a claim on their vehicle insurance policy.
Statistically, consumers have an accident approximately every 7.5 years. If you have not had a claim recently, the chances are the rules have changed considerably since your last accident.
Most policies over the years have allowed consumers a genuine freedom to nominate who shall carry out necessary repairs. Over the past five to six years, however, many Insurers stipulated that a second quote was required, usually from a repairer nominated by the insurer.
Most businesses, therefore, are aware that they face competition in the market place, and are prepared to quote on that basis.
When a consumer shops for quotes for repairs that they themselves are to pay for, most will pay close attention to the quotes they receive and evaluate where they are getting the best value. It is up to the repairer to quote accurately, explain what they are going to do and try to win the job on service and quality values.
Unfortunately, when an insurer becomes involved the situation becomes more uncertain depending on which insurer the consumer is insured with. Insurers who have set up recommended repairer schemes will sometimes go to extreme lengths to shift the consumer into their repairer network.
You may find your insurer has great service staff who give you good advice, the freedom of choice of repairer, an efficient assessing procedure and minimum delays. VACC advice is to stick with them.
Of course many consumers choose to avoid the hassles of organising the repair procedure and these people may wish to leave things completely in the hands of the insurer. If you elect to do this, at least check who is repairing your vehicle and if possible, check their reputation for quality work.
Prestige imported vehicles should, where possible, go to a repair shop which has the necessary equipment to correctly reinstate the vehicle to factory standards. This may not be necessary for scrapes and cosmetic repairs, but if a major repair is contemplated, this should be discussed with your insurer and a commitment obtained that the repairer has the knowledge regarding your particular vehicle.
There are a number of ways in which your vehicle can be repaired, from physically repairing your existing panels to replacement with new, second-hand or non-genuine parts. Some insurers are only interested in the "bottom line" figure. A VACC Body Repairer can assist in advising you in this area.
VACC Body Repairers comply with equipment standards, repair standards, disputation procedures and offer at least a three year warranty. VACC sees 'Lifetime Warranty' offers by insurers as a marketing issue, as motor manufacturers rarely warrant their spare parts longer than 12 months and paint refinishing products are generally warranted for three years.
VACC Body Repair Division is committed to re-instating accident damaged vehicles as near as practical to their pre-accident condition and will strongly support consumers and members to ensure that this standard is met.