Choice of repairer in car insurance

Should you use your own repair shop or your insurer's?

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So you’ve had an accident recently and your car needs repairing. If so you have two options on the table really. Take your vehicle to a repair shop that’s approved by your insurer, or head somewhere else.

If you’ve had the same mechanic for years you might want to stick with them, after all you trust them and you don’t want to take your business elsewhere.

Do I have to use a repair shop my insurance company suggests?

You don’t have to use a garage or repair shop approved by your insurance company. In fact, your provider has to let you go elsewhere if you want to.

If your claim is successful, it has to pay out too. However, as we discuss further on in the guide, your insurer will take away a whole host of benefits if you go with your own repair shop.

Why choose your own repairer?

There’s a few reasons you might choose to use your own mechanic.

Maybe it’s simply more convenient? It might be closer to your home while the nearest approved garage is miles away. Or your insurer’s repair shop has a lengthy backlog which would leave you without a car for a while.

If you have a vintage car or a prestige vehicle then you might want to take it to an experienced mechanic who specialises in repairing these old, valuable machines.

You could have been going to the same mechanic for years, who you have total trust in. Whatever the case, you can still use your own man or woman.

Why choose the insurer’s repairer?

Most providers will have a network of approved places you can go to get your car fixed. As they have relationships with these repair shops they can often strike deals and keep costs down.

While you don’t have to use these workshops, there’s several reasons you’re better off using your insurance provider’s approved mechanic.

  • Less hassle. You won’t have to go back and forth with your insurer with quotes and reasons for why you needed the repair.
  • Courtesy cars. Many providers remove your right to a courtesy car if you don’t use its approved workshop. Insurers argue courtesy cars are expensive, so if they have to spend more on repairs it can’t offer you this benefit.
  • Guarantees. Repairs carried out at an insurer approved shop are typically covered for 3 years or more. Your unapproved mechanic might offer you his own guarantee but your insurer won’t help if the repairs are unsatisfactory.
  • Lower excess. You might be charged a higher excess if you use your own garage. This is the amount you have to pay out of your own wallet before the insurance money kicks in.
  • Won’t cover all the costs. Insurers often refuse to pay what your own mechanic charged, but instead what the price would have been at an approved shop. It seems unfair, but get a quote from your repairer first and check with your insurer it’s happy to cover the total cost.

What should I look for in a car insurance policy?

  • Cheap prices. It comes down to what you’re looking for, coverage or price? There are three levels of cover you can get, ranging from the most basic type called third party, which pays the other person involved in an accident only. Then at the top of the ladder you have fully comprehensive which will give you financial help too – even if the collision or crash was your fault. If you’re looking for cheap, cheap, cheap, logic should dictate that the lower your level of cover the cheaper the insurance should be. However in recent years insurance companies have actually raised prices on third party policies because higher risk drivers were taking them out. So get quotes for fully comprehensive insurance too, you might just find it’s affordable.
  • Maximum coverage. If you’re going for a fully comprehensive policy, then you’ll want to make sure it (at the very least) covers you for the following features.
  • Repairs guaranteed. Will pay for any repair work.
  • Windscreen cover. Will repair or replace a damaged windscreen if you make a claim.
  • Personal belongings. It should cover loss or damage to personal belongings that are in your car due to an accident, fire or theft.
  • Loss or theft of keys. If your keys are lost or stolen to your car or your garage then it will pay towards replacing them.
  • Protected no claims discount. Makes sure your no claims discount remains even after you have an accident.
  • Car rescue cover. If your car ends up stuck somewhere following an accident, the insurer should transport it for you.
  • Courtesy car. It should supply you with an alternative car after an accident.

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