Do I have to use my insurance preferred car body repair shop?
Knowing your rights and making an informed decision.
Dealing with your car insurance company can be almost as frustrating as the accident itself. While you’re going through a traumatic experience and trying to get everything back to normal as soon as possible, your insurance company is often busy scheming on how to spend as little as possible.
Knowing your rights
If you don’t feel comfortable with the insurance recommended car body repair shop you can typically reject it and take it to your preferred car body repair shop. Unless there is a specific clause in your insurance policy that states you must use one of their recommended repair shops you are free to go wherever you prefer. Most insurance policies DO NOT have this clause.
If your policy doesn’t include this clause you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Insurance Act 2015. Don’t get pushed around by your insurance company. Know your rights and stick to them.
Why does your insurance company even have preferred car body repair shops?
If your insurance company has a preferred body repair shop it must be for a good reason, right? Surely, they want shops that perform high-quality repairs and are reputable? Absolutely not.
Insurance companies are looking for a body repair shop that is going to do the minimum necessary repairs. Why? Because the less stuff they fix the less they are going to charge.
Insurance companies have one goal. Making money. These preferred repair shops often give the insurance companies discounted rates which is why they are preferred, not because they offer high-quality repairs.
Sometimes your insurance company will have a preferred shop that is all about high-quality repairs and outstanding customer service. But chances are that’s not why they picked them. That’s why you should always do your homework and find a body repair shop that you can trust. Don’t just trust the insurance company. What you want and what they want aren’t the same things.
What to expect if you use a preferred car body repair shop?
Just like your insurance company, the body repair shop has one goal in mind, to make money. And because they promised to do it for as little money as possible, they might try to cut corners to get there.
They might not repair parts that have been damaged if they can get away with it. Or they might decide to replace damaged parts with inferior quality replacements.
For each part on your vehicle, there is an Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) recommended part. It’s the part that the company that made your vehicle makes specifically for your vehicle. When you drove your car off the lot for the first time it’s the parts that were on there.
If some of those parts need to be replaced some shops choose to replace them with aftermarket parts, which have not been tested on your vehicle. If your vehicle is still under warranty, this could void it.
Best to use genuine parts on vehicles.
Furthermore, this is a violation of your insurance policy. Your insurance policy states they should repair your car to its pre-accident condition. Using inferior parts to repair your vehicle can depreciate your vehicle’s value and void your warranty, and you probably won’t even know it until it’s too late.
Finally, for the preferred body repair shop to get the full payment they must get the job done in a certain amount of time. The reason for this is that the insurance companies don’t want to pay for a replacement vehicle any longer than they have to.
Sounds like a good deal, right? You’ll get your vehicle back on time guaranteed! The problem is when tethered to a deadline they are going to rush to get the job done even when it should take longer. That means cutting corners and doing the job the wrong way. When it comes to your car you want it done right, even if it takes an extra day.
What protection do you have as a consumer?
You’re the consumer. The laws are there to protect YOU.
- As previously mentioned, except in very rare cases, your insurance company CANNOT force you to go to any repair shop. They may try, but stand your ground, it’s YOUR choice.
- Insurance companies are NOT allowed to coerce or mislead a customer into making a choice they wouldn’t have made otherwise. It can be hard to prove though so expect the insurance company to try and get you to use one of their preferred body repair shops.
What protection do you have as a consumer?
The sad fact is your insurance company isn’t always on your side. Here are some common schemes they try to pull and what you should do if they try:
- Raise your excess if you pick your own body repair shop
- It’s illegal and they can’t do it. That doesn’t mean they won’t try. Refer them to https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/2083/regulation/5/made and https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/UNFCOG/1/3.html
- They might tell you that going to an unauthorized body repair shop might make it take longer to process your claims.
- They aren’t wrong. But if you’re using a reputable shop that is used to handling insurance claims it won’t take any longer than any of their preferred car body repair shops. Just make sure you use a company used to processing insurance claims
- Try to force you to get additional estimates.
- Don’t do it. It’s THEIR job to get more estimates. If they get an estimate that you don’t agree with THEN counter with another estimate. If you need one click HERE, and we’ll get you a no-obligation quote. We usually respond within minutes but will always respond within 24 hours.
Have you experienced any other schemes from your insurance company? We want to know. Tell us your story and we will add it to our list.
If your car insurance company doesn’t respond to any of these measures, file a formal complaint by email or letter to your insurer’s designated complaints address and keep a copy. If your claim is rejected or you still haven’t heard back from them after eight weeks, file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
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