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 an accident. Many consumers are not aware a problem may exist until they make a claim on their vehicle insurance policy.

Statistically, drivers 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

In the past, most policies allowed motorists a genuine freedom to nominate who would carry out necessary repairs. Over the past five-to-six years many insurers stipulated that a second quote was required, usually from a repairer nominated by the insurer. Most businesses are aware they face competition in the market place and are prepared to quote on that basis.

When a car owner is paying out of their own pocket for repairs, 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.

The situation becomes more uncertain when an insurance company is involved. 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 and question them on exactly what the quote means and what work will be carried out. Any repairer who wants your business will take the time to explain this to you.
  • Look at the repairer's shop and equipment. Is it clean and well laid out, a place you could leave your asset with confidence?
  • Contact your insurer and check your policy. Find out if you are required to use their repairer. If so, ensure you receive a copy of the quote and the work is explained to you. 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 a 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.
  • If you feel coerced at any time, be prepared to argue for your rights or to walk away. You should be the one to choose who works on your car.
  • You may have a repairer you are comfortable with and have dealt with previously. You will 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, check who is repairing your vehicle and 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.

VACC repairers

VACC body repairers comply with equipment standards, repair standards, disputation procedures.

VACC views 'Lifetime Warranty' offers by insurers as a marketing gimmick, as motor manufacturers rarely warrant their spare parts longer than 12 months and paint refinishing products are generally warranted for three years.