Does your insurance company allow you to choose your repairer?

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.

Choice of repairer is important

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.

Protect yourself and your vehicle

  • Make enquiries locally as to who carries out good repair work, and if possible look at a repair completed by this repairer.
  • Get a quote from the repairer; question them on exactly what the quote means and what work will be carried out. Indeed, any repairer who wants your business will take the time to carry out this exercise with you.
  • Look at the repairer's shop and equipment, is it clean and well laid out, a place you would leave your asset in with confidence?
  • Contact your insurer and find out their requirements: if a second quote is required attend to this procedure. You may find a similar service available, so carry out the same procedure, make sure you get a copy of the quote and have it explained to you.
  • If you feel co-erced at any time, be prepared to argue for your rights or to walk away. You should be the one to choose who is to work on your car.
  • If a repairer will not give you a copy of the quote, see if the insurer will send a copy to you before you make any final decision. If they are reluctant to do this, tell them you do not want to deal with someone who is not prepared to undergo the scrutiny you require. Remember, your vehicle is your asset, and you should protect your rights.
  • You may have a repairer you are comfortable with and have dealt with previously. You may have to check your policy wording, but you can insist that your repairer carry out the work.

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.

Specialist repairs

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 repairers

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.

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