Approved Garages

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When your car sustains damage, whether cosmetic or mechanical, it inevitably leads to repair costs. Typically, if you make an insurance claim, your insurer might suggest fixing the damage at one of their approved garages. However, you might prefer to select your repairer.

Here’s what to take into consideration when choosing a repairer for a car insurance claim.

What are the Options Around Repairs When You Make an Insurance Claim?

When your car requires repairs after an insurance claim, you have to select a garage to do the job. Insurance providers often have approved repairers they prefer you use. Choosing a non-approved garage might bring certain limitations and conditions.

For instance, some insurers offer a courtesy car only if you go with a repairer they recommend. They might also ask for additional payment on top of your excess, or not guarantee the repair work.

However, you might want to opt for a garage of your liking due to various reasons. This choice is yours, but it can affect your claim. Let’s delve deeper into these options and understand their pros and cons.

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What are Approved Repairers?

Understanding Approved Repairers

An approved repairer is a garage that has been officially recognised and endorsed by your insurance provider to handle repairs on vehicles they insure, particularly following an insurance claim.

What Are Approved Repairers

Reasons for Insurance Providers Preferring Approved Repairers

Negotiating Better Rates

Insurance companies tend to favour these repairers as they can negotiate preferential rates due to the large volume of business they channel towards these garages.

Quality and Standards Assurance

Another crucial reason is the ability to enforce quality standards in repairs. Approved repairers undergo regular inspections or audits to ensure high standards in their repair work.

This scrutiny, conducted either by the insurers themselves or by independent expert inspectors, guarantees that the repair work is up to the mark, ensuring both safety and quality.

Insurance-Owned Repair Networks

Some larger insurance companies might even operate their repair centres or networks. This approach aims to offer a seamless and efficient experience for customers, making the process of resolving a claim smoother and more integrated.

These company-owned centres are also part of the approved repairers’ network, adhering to the same high standards expected by the insurer.

In summary, approved repairers are an integral part of the insurance ecosystem, providing benefits like cost-effectiveness, high-quality repairs, and a streamlined claim resolution process.

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How to Find an Approved Garage Near You

Seeking Assistance from Your Claim Handler

When searching for an approved garage in your area, the first point of contact should be your claim handler. They are equipped to guide you through the process and provide the necessary resources.

Search Approved Garages Online

  • Getting a List of Approved Garages: Your claim handler can provide you with a comprehensive list of approved garages. This list typically includes various garages that have met the insurance company’s standards and are authorised to carry out repairs.
  • Utilising an Online Tool for Local Searches: Many insurance providers offer an online tool that allows you to conduct a postcode-based search. This convenient tool helps you quickly find approved garages in your local area.
  • Consulting the Help Centre for Local Options: If you prefer speaking to someone, your insurance company’s help centre can provide you with detailed information about local approved garages. They can answer any queries and help you select the most suitable garage.

Arranging Repairs Through Your Insurance Company

  • Coordinating with the Approved Repairer: Once you have found an approved garage, your claims handler will guide you on how to book your car for repairs. In many cases, your insurance company may arrange this for you, especially if you choose an approved repairer from their list.
  • Handling the Excess Payment: If your policy includes an excess, you will need to pay this amount to the garage once the repairs are completed. The excess is a fixed amount you agreed to pay towards the cost of repair when you took out your policy. It’s important to be aware of this payment so you can plan accordingly.

In summary, finding an approved garage is a straightforward process with the assistance of your claim handler and the resources provided by your insurance company.

Whether it’s through a list, an online tool, or direct assistance from the help centre, you have various options to locate a suitable garage.

Moreover, understanding the process of arranging repairs and the excess payment is key to a smooth experience.

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What are the Pros and Cons of Using an Approved Garage?

Advantages of Using an Approved Garage

  • Assured Quality Standards: One of the primary advantages of using an approved garage is the assurance of quality standards. Insurance providers set specific criteria that these garages must meet, ensuring a high standard of repair work.
  • Guarantee on Repairs: Repairs carried out by approved garages are often guaranteed for a specified period. This guarantee offers peace of mind and ensures any post-repair issues are addressed without additional costs.
  • Availability of Courtesy Cars: If your policy includes cover for courtesy cars, using an approved garage often means you’ll have access to a temporary replacement car while your car is being repaired.
  • Collection and Delivery Services: Some approved garages offer the convenience of collecting and delivering your car. This service is particularly beneficial if you are unable to drive the car to the garage yourself.
  • Streamlined Process: Choosing an approved garage can streamline the repair process. It often means less hassle for you as there’s usually no need to get multiple repair quotes for insurance approval.
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Pros And Cons Of Using An Approved Garage

Disadvantages of Using an Approved Garage

  • Limited Proximity and Specialisation: A potential downside is that the nearest approved garage might not be as close as you’d prefer. This can be particularly true if you live in a remote area. Additionally, if you own a specialised vehicle model, the approved repairer might not have the specific expertise or parts readily available, leading to potential delays or the need for more distant travel.

In summary, while using an approved garage offers quality assurance, guarantees, and potential conveniences like courtesy cars and a streamlined process, it can be less ideal in terms of proximity and specialised repair needs, especially for unique car models or for those living in less urban areas.

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A Repairer of Your Choice: Understanding Your Rights and Options

Personal Choice in Selecting a Repairer

Opting for a repairer of your own choosing is a common decision made by many car owners. The reasons for this choice can vary. Some individuals may prefer a specific garage because of its high-quality service that they have come to trust.

Others might choose a local repairer due to its convenient location, making it more accessible for them, especially in cases of emergency or routine follow-up visits.

A Repairer Of Your Choice

Legal Right to Choose Your Own Repairer

It’s important to know that selecting your own repairer is not just a matter of preference, but also a legal right.

  • Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations: Under the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations, car owners in the UK are legally entitled to choose any repairer or body shop to repair their car. This regulation was established to encourage competition and improve consumer choice in the automotive service industry.
  • UK Car Insurance Repair Rights: In line with these rights, as a car insurance policyholder, you are not compelled to use an approved repairer selected by your insurance provider. This flexibility allows you to opt for a garage that best meets your needs, whether it’s for specialised services, better pricing, or more convenient location.

However, it’s crucial to note that while you have the right to choose your repairer, there might be implications for your insurance claim.

For instance, if the repairer you choose is not part of your insurer’s approved network, you might face differences in the claims process, such as the need to get pre-approval for the repair costs or a different approach to handling the excess payment.

In summary, while you have the legal right to select your own repairer, it’s advisable to understand how this choice might impact your insurance claim process.

This knowledge ensures you can make an informed decision that balances your personal preferences with the practical aspects of your car insurance policy.

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Pros and Cons of Choosing Your Own Garage for Insurance Repairs

Advantages of Selecting Your Own Repairer

  • Personal Choice in Repair Services The most significant advantage of choosing your own repairer is the freedom to decide who fixes your car. This allows you to select a garage based on your trust and past experiences.

  • Proximity to Your Location Your chosen repairer might be more conveniently located, making it easier for you to access their services and manage the repair process.

  • Specialisation for Your Vehicle An independent garage might offer specialisation for your particular vehicle type, which is especially beneficial if you have a unique or high-end model.

  • Use of Original Parts Some garages, especially brand-specific ones, might be more likely to use original parts. Make sure to check your policy regarding the use of original versus aftermarket parts.

Pros And Cons Of Choosing Your Own Garage For Insurance Repairs

Disadvantages of Selecting Your Own Repairer

  • Limited Access to Courtesy Cars Many comprehensive car insurance policies offer a courtesy car, but this is often only available if you use an approved repairer.

  • No Guarantee on Repairs Your insurance provider typically won’t guarantee the repairs unless done by their approved repairers. This guarantee often covers any further damage detected during repairs.

  • Potential Additional Charges Using your own repairer might incur an additional sum on top of your excess, as the insurance provider may have pre-negotiated rates with their approved repairers.

  • Possible Repair Approval and Inspection Delays Your insurance provider might need to authorise and inspect the repairs, potentially leading to delays in getting your car back.

  • Discrepancies in Repair Costs There’s a risk that your insurance provider might not cover the full cost of the repairs if they deem it would have been cheaper with an approved repairer.

  • Requirement for Written Estimates If you choose your own repairer, you’ll need to provide a written estimate to your insurance provider for approval before claiming and commencing work.

Understanding Your Policy

Regardless of your choice of repairer, it’s crucial to thoroughly read and understand your policy documents. This ensures you are fully aware of the terms and conditions that apply to repairs, including any limitations or requirements, helping you make an informed decision.

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What Happens Once Your Claim is Approved?

Initial Steps After Accident and Claim Approval

  • Paying the Excess: After an accident, your insurance company will likely require you to pay an excess. This is a standard procedure, regardless of who is at fault. However, if it’s determined that you were not at fault, this excess may be refunded.
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What Happens Once Your Claim Is Approved

Determining Fault and Its Implications

  • No-Fault on Your Part: If your insurance provider concludes that the accident was not your fault, you might be exempt from paying the excess. In such cases, the other driver’s insurance policy may cover it.

  • Accident Deemed Your Fault: Conversely, if the accident is deemed your fault, you will be responsible for paying the excess.

  • Impact on Future Premiums: Regardless of fault, making a claim can lead to an increase in your future insurance premiums. Insurance providers often perceive a higher risk of recurrence and adjust your premium rates accordingly to reflect this increased risk.

Repair Process and Documentation

  • Repair Cost Estimation and Approval: Once the repair costs are estimated, your insurance provider must approve these costs. After approval, you can proceed with the repair work.

  • Keeping Records: It’s important to retain all invoices and documents from the repair work. These records may be required for future reference or in case of any discrepancies.

Timeline of Claim Processing

  • Factors Influencing Claim Processing Time: The time it takes for a claim to be approved and paid out varies based on several factors. The speed at which you report the claim, provide the necessary evidence, and select a repairer all influence the timeline.

  • Completion of the Claim Process: After these steps are completed, the insurance company pays out the claim. The entire process is then considered complete and the claim is closed.

In summary, understanding the steps involved after your claim is approved is crucial. This includes knowing your obligations regarding the excess, the potential impact on future premiums, the importance of keeping repair documentation and being aware of the factors that influence the speed of claim processing.

Being informed about these aspects can help you navigate the post-claim process more effectively.

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What Happens If You’re Unhappy with Repairs Carried Out by an Approved Garage?

Initial Steps for Addressing Dissatisfaction

  • Making an Official Complaint: If you’re dissatisfied with the repairs conducted by an approved garage or with the way your insurance provider handled your claim, the first step is to make an official complaint. This complaint should be directed to your insurance provider or the garage, depending on the nature of the issue.

  • Documenting Communication: Keep a detailed record of all interactions related to your complaint. This includes noting down details of calls, keeping copies of emails, and saving all written correspondence with both your insurance provider and the repairer. Documenting these interactions can be vital if the complaint escalates.

Escalation of the Complaint

  • Unresolved Issues: If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, or if you feel that the response from the insurance provider or the garage is inadequate, you have the option to escalate the matter.

  • Involving the Financial Ombudsman Service: The Financial Ombudsman Service can be approached to intervene in the situation. This independent body helps resolve disputes between consumers and financial service providers, including issues related to insurance claims and repairs.

Financial Ombudsman Service Fos

Process with the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • Submitting Your Case: To involve the Financial Ombudsman Service, you will need to submit your case to them. This involves providing them with all relevant details and evidence of your complaint, including the documentation of your communications and any other supporting information.

  • Resolution and Decision: The Ombudsman will review your case and make a decision. They aim to resolve issues fairly and impartially. If they find in your favour, they can direct the insurance provider or the garage to take specific actions, which could include redoing the repairs, providing compensation, or making amends in other ways.

In summary, if you’re unhappy with the repairs done by an approved garage or with your insurance provider’s handling of your claim, start by making an official complaint and keeping thorough records.

If the issue isn’t resolved, you have the right to take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service for an impartial resolution. Understanding these steps can empower you to effectively address any dissatisfaction with repair work done under an insurance claim.

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Find a Car Insurance Deal to Suit You

When searching for car insurance, using Comparoo can streamline the process and potentially lead to a great deal. Our platform independently compares over 110 car insurance providers, assisting you in finding car insurance cover that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Comparoo showcases policies with a focus on various key aspects such as price, level of cover, add-ons, and payment terms. This comprehensive approach simplifies the decision-making process, making it more straightforward for you to choose the car insurance deal that best fits your requirements.

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