Category Archives: accident repairs

What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident Abroad

Every year, thousands of British holidaymakers venture off to Europe to take a break and explore different cultures. Many hire a car and others drive their own overseas, where this makes sense.

On such an occasion, FOXY Lady Drivers Club member and experienced driver, Claire, was recently involved in a significant accident in France which left her family car a write-off.

Here Claire shares her experience with us, including the lessons she learned.

“A few days before my accident, I’d driven 700 miles or more through France to reach our destination in the south. I’d actually been looking forward to the journey. Driving in France is not as complicated as people may think. I find their motorways less congested and more pleasurable to drive than in Britain to be honest. And after 25 years of driving, I had never caused an accident, ever, anywhere.

Until now…

I approached a tricky crossroads after a trip to the supermarket with my mum. It was a stop junction for me. The traffic going left and right of me had priority, so I stopped completely. I looked at the traffic, waiting for a gap so I could drive across. It was clear, and at that moment, when you do those last checks, the adrenalin kicks in and you make the decision to go, I got it wrong.

I looked left instead of right, as I would in the UK, saw it was clear on the ‘wrong’ side and drove straight into someone. Everything went into slow motion. The car I hit spun around, thankfully I wasn’t going that fast. Even so, my poor mum whimpered with shock.

I then went into auto mode. All I could think of were the people I’d hit and getting my mum out of the car. I saw one gentleman emerge safely from the car I hit, rushed over and saw a lady in the car on her phone.

Now, I am lucky I speak French and fairly fluently. I immediately apologised and asked if anyone was hurt. No, no one was hurt. In fact the gentleman was extremely calm. He affirmed how bad the junction is in terms of visibility and wasn’t surprised it happened.

Many helpful passers-by called the police, who eventually arrived. A kind gentleman got his warning triangle (mine was stuck in the car, under a pile of garden furniture we had just purchased) and directed traffic until they arrived.

Ladies appeared from the warehouse on the corner with water and urged us to stay out of the hot sun.

Post accident bureaucracy

“There is a set form you must complete at the scene in France, so when the police arrived, secured the road and ensured we weren’t injured, we started on those.

I had a copy in English and, in spite of my good French, this gave me the peace of mind that I was signing a document I fully understood.

Even though it took a good 2 hours to sort at the scene, it seemed like no time at all. My emotions were all over the place. I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for damaging their car and ours.

We’ve had our car since new, even gave her a name (don’t do that, it just makes it harder).

My car was taken to a nearby garage where I was able to finish my calls with the insurance company. When everyone had everything they needed to progress the vehicle destruction certificate – it was a complete write-off, the floodgates opened. The team at the garage had seen it all before and worse.

On the wall were pictures of accidents much worse than mine caused by drunk drivers. Luckily we had the right insurance cover and breakdown protection, which included repatriation.

We were able to get on a flight home (the kids were happy there was no 10 hour drive, even though we had been planning to break it up with a trip to Disneyland Paris).

Looking back, I can only think how much worse the accident could have been. Only one other car was involved at a busy crossroads and no one was injured. Without any doubt it was a very tricky junction, with cars darting round a bend into it from one side.

But what hurts the most is my driver’s pride and the predictable insurance premiums.

Claire’s Accident Advice and Checklist

In the unlikely event you’re involved in a road traffic incident whilst on holiday abroad, here’s a handy checklist based on my experience.

Before you travel

1) Check your insurance and what you’re covered for abroad, including breakdown recovery.

2) Check you have all the required forms (in France there are standard accident forms to complete at the scene and get signed by the other parties and the police).

3) Compile a list of all the telephone numbers to ring from the country in which you are driving, if your insurance company hasn’t done this for you.

4) Keep them in the car. You will thank yourself if you need them later!

5) Also take your V5C with you. If your insurance company’s appointed agents declare the car a write-off, they need to see this. In fact I learned that in France you’re expected to have it with you in any case.

At the scene

6) Firstly try to remain calm. I know that’s easier said than done but think about the endgame: getting everyone to safety, calling the authorities and checking for injuries.

7) Before worrying about who was at fault, insurance details and form filling, take a moment to breathe and think carefully about what happened.

8) If you have a camera or smartphone with you, take photos of the scene and vehicles involved including number plates. This will help you later if there’s any disputes or questions. Your phone can also record the GPS location on the photographs, which could also be handy.

After an accident

9) Try and find a way to enjoy what’s left of your trip. Remember, these things do happen and we are only human, whether it was your fault or not. Find a distraction to take your mind off things, a day trip or meal out with your travelling companions.

10) When you’re back home, explore the possibility of having an advanced driving lesson from someone who specialises in confidence building courses to refresh your knowledge.

Accident Anxiety

If any member needs help coming to terms with a similar experience, which many of us do, ask FOXY Lady Drivers Club to introduce their stress-busting services, including details of Female Friendly Approved driving instructors near you.

And finally be sure to compare insurance premiums at renewal time. After 25 years of accident free driving it would be unfair for your premium to rise dramatically although it will rise for sure! Whether it was your fault or not.

Where accident repairs are needed in the UK, choose a FOXY Lady Approved garage.

Where a refresher driving lesson/course might help, choose a FOXY Lady Approved Instructor.

For 1:1 anxiety support, Club members are able to email FOXY Helpdesk.

What does your car colour say about you?

coloursAccording to specialist minor paintwork repairer ChipsAway, some car colours are more likely to attract dents and dings than others.

So it isn’t you really – it was going to happen come what may??

That’s a bit unlikely we thought but all the same, here are the alleged odds of scratches and scrapes appearing on your car they say, in reverse colour order.

Thereby representing a driving challenge for those of us owning a car in one of these colours, to prove ChipsAway wrong in future perhaps?

5. Red

Not such a popular colour as in the 80’s and 90’s but apparently making a comeback. Red cars account for nearly 10% of all repairs in this driving challenge.

4. Grey

As boring as grey sounds, unless he’s a character in a book or callet ‘Gunshot metallic’ or similar, grey is the third most ‘popular’ car colour in the UK at the moment, with 14% of the total registrations in this colour.

And, running the risk of being equally boring, ChipsAway repair precisely the same number of grey cars .

3. Blue

While blue cars have decreased in popularity over recent years – with 13% of new car registrations in 2014, they still get into their fair share of bumps, and account for 18% of total repairs!

Oh dear. That’s me (as a driver not a dent statistic – I wonder if stone chips count?)

2. Black

In second position, it’s the ‘always in fashion’ black car bringing in 21% of total repairs. A few years ago, black cars were reportedly most likely to be involved in collisions because they merge with the gloom (and the grey ones), particularly during evening hours.

Well, according to ChipsAway they are pipped to the post by…

1. Silver

Written with a suitably discreet FOXY fanfare for all involved, silver coloured cars make it into the loving hands of ChipsAway repair specialists more than any other colour, earning them the top spot, with 24% of repairs.

Or you could think of it another way – perhaps the owners of silver coloured cars just care about them more and so want to keep them looking shiny and new!

Nice try ChipsAway.

And here’s a pat on the back for drivers of white cars that have yet to make it into this league.

Could it be that white is simply a safer colour choice, helping contribute to the fact that they are also the best colour cars for holding their value?

Perhaps. Unless it’s a white van driven by a man in my experience that is…



Always choose the best accident repairer


During its reign (it closed in April 2014) the Office of Fair of Trading told us ‘it’s your choice’ when it comes to choosing an accident repairer for your car. But it never was, really, because at least two of the big insurers charge motorists a supplement of £200 to use one outside their ‘approved’ network.

And because the cost of insurance, the speed of a repair and access to courtesy cars are of the essence, it’s fair to say that the welcome a customer gets, should they ever need to go to an accident repairer, is not at the top of any insurer’s list.

It’s Your Female Choice

So how should a lady driver set about finding one of the best and most female friendly bodyshop repairers for herself when she wants to sort out a small car repair?

One where she feels welcome, sees a female face perhaps, finds clean and comfortable reception facilities and not in some highly off-putting industrial estates…

She wants to sort out the likes of small bodywork, alloy and interior car damage without troubling her insurer, for fear of losing any no claims bonus or seeing her premium rise even when she’s paid her excess.

Our advice is for her to do her homework re quality standards first. To look for the Kitemark in vehicle repairs, staff listed on the IMI’s Professional Register, membership of VBRA perhaps (the only scheme operated by Trading Standards Institute) or a manufacturer approved repairer.

Or join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to tell you where best to go…

Then I’d look for one that is actively courting female business by making women feel welcome (many women are highly sensitive here, wary of being criticised by men). These repairers will likely be listed at the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly bodyshop network.

Finally I’d look for businesses that have won recent accolades in Bodyshop Awards, showing that they are proud of their work and at the top of their game.

2015 British Bodyshop Award winners

Aldershot, Carl Batt – UKAARC Aldershot
Ayrshire, Bridgend Accident Repair Centre, Ayrshire
Bath, Emily Monk, Platinum Accident Repair Centre
Bishop’s Stortford, Rye Street Group
Bristol, ARC Group
Bury St Edmunds, Premier Bodyworks
Crawley, Mick Pini, UKAARC
Croydon, Jemca
Cwmbran Ford
Dagenham, Victor Silva, Fix Auto Dagenham
Dover, Jenkins & Pain*
Grantham, Emma Wilson, Just Car Clinics*
Hartlepool, K & P Anderson Brothers
Heathrow, ARC Coachworks
High Wycombe, Motorbelle,
Hull, Taylors Vehicle Repair Centre
Manchester, Scott Howarth, UKAARC Manchester
Newbury, Adrian Brown – NCR Bodyshops*
Newbury, Woodlands Bodyshop
North of England/Scotland, Pamela McIntyre/Peter Foy, L&I Eaton Group
Northern Ireland, Wrights Accident Repair Centres
South West, Paul Lousteau, Westover Group
Sunderland, Lancaster Wearside Body Repair Centre
Swindon, Just Car Clinic*
Tyne, C&C Coachworks (Tyne Tees Vehicle Repair Group)
UK – Fix Auto
Wakefield, Brian Kendrew – UKAARC Wakefield
West Lothian, AJM Spraying Services
Weybridge, DWS Bodyworks Group

*members of the FOXY Lady Approved female friendly network

Club members can always ask us for specific advice about the best accident repairer to use in their area. It’s what we’re good at remember.


Choosing a female friendly car repairer

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photo ack:

Women drivers need to know who to trust and where to take their cars for repairs to everyday motoring bumps, dents, scuffs and dings. This is why we operate the UK’s only female friendly approved garage and accident repairer network under the FOXY Choice banner.

These are typical cosmetic car damage we ALL collect.

When we’re parking, for example, but just as often (or so it seems to me) caused by careless and short-sighted others wielding trolleys, buggies, opening car doors and reversing recklessly in busy car parks.

Just like the garages women visit for MOTs, car servicing and mechanical repairs we all want to know where the genuinely female friendly accident and cosmetic repairers are in our area.

What are cosmetic car repairs?

Cosmetic car repairs affect the look of your car, your perceived status sometimes and ultimately your driving pleasure. If your car LOOKS good it’s no secret that you FEEL good and it seems to drive better too. Funny that!

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photo ack:
Cosmetic repairs are also known within the motor industry as SMART repairs (as in Small to Medium Area Repair Techniques). Few females know of this acronym so perhaps that’s the first point to make here. A SMART* vehicle repairer is therefore a specialist cosmetic car repairer…

*not to be confused with the SMaRT Garage Group that does service and repair work in South London and Salford… and who are part of the #FOXYLadyApproved garage network. Sorry to confuse you!

We all need cosmetic vehicle repairs at some stage.

By that I mean
+ Alloy wheel refurbishment
+ Car interior repairs
+ Car valeting
+ Cosmetic car park dings
+ Paintless dent removal
+ Pre sale tidy up
+ Scuffs and scratches
+ Vehicle recovery service
+ Wheel alignment

Remember that a pristine looking car will sell ahead of one that’s evidently been in a few supermarkets too many. My mother in law had her car tidied up before selling it recently and it flew off the shelf – she sold it to the first caller at the asking price.

What surprised me most, looking at prices recently, is that cosmetic repairs cost less than I imagined, and this price list from the Just Car Clinics group will give you an idea of the costs to budget for….

How to find a good accident or cosmetic car repairer

It isn’t easy to find a good cosmetic car repairer online.

Even Google doesn’t know the difference between a ‘service and mechanical repair’ garage and an ‘accident and cosmetic repairer’. To see what I mean, search for ‘cosmetic car repairs’ and you’ll find loads of ‘service and (mechanical) repair’ garages.

That’s such a waste of our shopping time and very misleading, especially when we might end up handing our car over to a garage that might have a go (but has no skills or license to do the work) or charge us a handling fee to simply pass the work on to one of their chums who may or may not be any better.

Even the motor industry lumps ‘repairs’ into one category when motorists are likely to be searching for ‘repairs’ yet looking for the best ‘mechanical’, ‘accident’ and/or ‘cosmetic’ repairer to suit the job in hand.

When all women want to know is who and where are the best local approved repairers we can trust not to rip us off.

In short, we want a repairer that’s best qualified to do this specialist job, but few women (or men) know what the best standard is.

We might choose a national network like FOXY Lady Approved Just Car Clinics or favour a specialist repairer for a make of car, like Ford Accident Repair Centres (a handful are FOXY Lady Approved to date). Or a specialist in a particular field such as upholstery or alloy wheel repairers.

When it comes to more major car accident repairs, FOXY looks for the Kitemark specification (known as BS10125) in bodywork repairs. Most of the leading insurers require this for their repairer networks.

Another sign of measurable quality is membership of the VBRA (Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association) that operates the only Trading Standards Code of Practice scheme. And if you can find an expert for the work you require listed at the IMI’s Professional Register at least you know that person is licensed to do the job.

When it comes to cosmetic repairs some say a mobile resource (one that might assemble a tent outside your home or office to complete the likes of spray paint repairs there) is less able to achieve the same consistent paint finish because of the outdoor/weather variant. But it might suit you better and be a quicker solution?

Needless to say, after an accident and all the stress this brings, you want a business that has invested in quality standards first and is female friendly to boot – an accident can be very unsettling.

Remember that the motor industry doesn’t require individuals to be licensed to carry out bodywork repairs so, whatever your foxy choice, go for a business that has clearly invested in licensed/trained staff who are more likely to provide higher standards than others.

Very often a good accident repairer will be a good cosmetic repairer because of the synergy in skills. They are likely to be experts in panel sourcing/beating, paint spraying and/or the economic supply of the best value (NB: be wary of the cheapest…) replacement parts.

You’ll also find networks of specialist often franchised services offering car valeting, alloy wheel repairs, windscreen replacements and such like. Needless to say perhaps, it’s the same old jungle out there for females so choose a female friendly approved one, where given the choice.

Here’s the list of the latest FOXY Lady Approved garages (for MOT, servicing and mechanical repairs) and REPAIRERS (as in bodywork, accident and cosmetic car repairs).

Here’s how to provide female feedback about any local accident repairer (good or bad)

Here’s how to provide female feedback about any local cosmetic car repairer (good or bad)

We can then share your feedback re local accident repairs within the Club for the benefit of local women drivers.

FOXY’s final advice when shopping for car repairs?

We say

1 Always look for/ask about signs of measurable quality whatever the car repair you require.
2 As tempting as a cheap price is, don’t decide on the basis of price alone – this is an unlicensed industry remember.
3 Don’t put up with excessive repair delays after an accident and poor, patronising or overcharged work of course.
4 Where you can, choose a FOXY Lady Approved repairer in your area.
5 Tell us if you have cause to complain about any UK repairer via the Feedback area of the top righthand menu area of the website.

If we can help sort things out, we’ll add our voice to the female cause.

By choosing a FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly accident repairer and/or cosmetic car repairer everybody wins in the end, just as soon as women realise they have a female friendly choice and don’t make do with repairers that clearly aren’t.

Please help us spread the word by telling your friends…


NB: Sadly cars that were accident write offs are allowed back on our roads without an insurance bill of health (see eBay for examples of this). Whilst that’s a subject for a different blog I couldn’t live with myself if a repairer I chose to repair my car did the job SO BADLY that this caused a serious accident to the person I next sold my car to…

How about you?