We need car insurance because it’s a legal requirement. It also gives us peace of mind when we are involved in an accident, whether we caused it or not.
As you know, insurers charge an excess on our claims (the higher the excess the lower the premium) so we pay the first part of a claim anyway, over and above our annual premium.
Even when an accident wasn’t our fault, our renewal premium often rises because insurers tell us we are now statistically more likely to have another accident. Sadly we can never challenge this statement because we never see the ‘evidence’ that insurance underwriters use.
Dishonest motorists who don’t buy insurance are breaking the law of course but when we are involved in an accident with one we can claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), funded by the insurance industry.
But did you also know that when you are involved in an accident you are entitled to choose the bodywork repairer you want to do the job?
The likely reality is that most of us are so rattled by being in a car accident that we reach for the phone to tell our insurer. Surely this is the right thing to do, isn’t this what we’ve paid for and won’t we get the best and safest service this way?
In truth we could be better off contacting a qualified local accident repairer who’ll negotiate with our insurer for us. But the insurance risk of opening this door to a more competitive market for all motorists is that there could be complications. Has this repairer/accident management service done the right thing with our insurer, might I end up paying more for my insurance and how can I tell this repairer is really up to the job?
This happened to Sadie’s Mum who bought a cheap family car imagining it’d be safe. It wasn’t. Sadly the insurer hadn’t checked the quality of the previous accident repair work, assuming it knew of this, and Sadie died in the second accident as a direct result of a seriously bodged car repair.
Accident Management Service
If you own a new car or drive a fleet vehicle provided by your employer, either the car manufacturer, the fleet management company or your employer will give you a dedicated phone number to call after a road accident. You’ll be told to call this BEFORE you call an insurer (where applicable).
You might imagine that the car manufacturer/employer wants to oversee the quality of the work and the right replacement parts. The reality is that they are doing exactly the same as the insurers – controlling and containing the cost of accident repairs by using a UK network of repairers who’ll do the work for less than the market rate.
It’s Your Accident and Your Choice of Repairer
Understandably most accident repairers with time and expensive resources on their hands also want to compete for this work. Because there is so little independent advice to help motorists choose the best (and least stressful) repair experience here are some FOXY tips in this situation.
1 Don’t wait until you have an accident to decide what you’ll do if it happens. Have a plan. I used an accident management service after my BMW was a write off and all went well. I got a small courtesy car the next day, personal injury claim support (I broke my thumb & 2 ribs/my husband a bone in his foot) and the insurer gave me enough time and money to choose my new replacement car.
2 You are entitled to choose your own accident repairer and I recommend you do this on the basis of measurable quality standards. I’d want to know I was using one of the UK’s best – no shoddy repairs or cheap/short lived Chinese car parts for my car please. Look for a repairer with the BSI 10125 Vehicle Damage Kitemark and/or that operates to the NBRA’s CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) Code of Practice. See below for more information.
3 If you get your insurer or your car manufacturer’s accident management service to repair your car, ask them which repairer they’re using, check that they have Kitemark/NBRA credentials and that they can guarantee a courtesy car.
4 Smell a rat if your insurer says ‘no’ to a courtesy car. If you need one, insist on one to your insurer. If your repair is delayed excessively or unreasonably ask for it to be rescheduled sooner.
Sometimes your insurer will allocate repairs to a very busy bodyshop that won’t say no to more work but can’t do it now. Because the courtesy car comes from that garage, you probably won’t get it until they take your car in for repair. For example, if it’s a fortnight before they can do the work, it’ll likely be a fortnight before you get their courtesy car.
NB: Your insurance cover should put you in the position you were in before the accident ie you had a driveable car then and you want one now. But don’t ask for/or accept one that’s bigger or grander than the car you own. That’ll mean a higher bill for the insurer and if you expect the insurer to play the game fairly, you must too.
5 Talk the situation through with an interested and reputable local accident repairer. In certain circumstances some will refund you the excess you’d be expected to pay the insurer. But always tell your insurer what you are up to. Some insurers will charge you extra eg Esure charges a further £200 if you don’t use one of their approved repairers. As unfair as this is, it’s hard to challenge when it’s clearly stated in their terms and conditions which you possibly didn’t read/spot when you bought this policy?
Undoubtedly the industry should make all this clearer for motorists but doesn’t. We don’t have freedom of choice of repairers as is, but we should have. But before we get this, I’d like to see the industry ‘out’ the dodgy, unqualified and unlicensed accident repairers so the likes of Sadie’s unnecessary death can’t happen to another family in similar situations.
For More Information
Club members can ask FOXY for accident advice and to recommend a quality accident repairer in their area.
Club members can contact the Motor Claim Guru for insurance claims advice.
NB: Don’t waste time searching for a local BS10125 Kitemark repairer yourself. Despite this being the most demanding quality standard for repairers the BSI website then fails to adequately promote the businesses that achieve this as better than the rest.