Discover the potential benefits and drawbacks of using your insurer’s approved repairer or choosing your own garage to fix your car after an accident.
You need your car fixed. Does your insurer decide where?
What is an approved repairer?
Insurers have a network of approved repairers they use to carry out repairs on vehicles they cover. So, if you have an accident in your car or it gets damaged, your insurer can arrange for the repairs to be done at one of these approved garages.
Most insurers have a network of approved repairers across the country. So there should be one within a convenient distance of you.
All repairs usually come with at least a three-year guarantee for the work undertaken.
Your insurance company prefers that you use one of its approved repairers so it can access discounted rates from the garages.
The repairers will also have been vetted and will regularly undergo checks and audits of their work, so you can trust them to do a good job.
Do you have to use insurance approved garages?
No. Although your insurer may prefer that you use one of its approved garages, you have no legal obligation to do so when making a claim. You’re protected by the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation, enabling you to choose your own repairer if you wish to.
Your insurer can’t force you to use a certain repairer and it’ll still pay out for the repairs if your claim is accepted.
So, if you want to, you can choose to use a garage you know and trust to do a good job. And it could also save you travelling out of your way to your insurer’s chosen repairer.
Be aware, though, that if you do decide to go down this route, your insurance provider may apply a non-repairer excess to your claim, which can be costly. This is payable in addition to any other excess (voluntary and compulsory) on your policy.
Also, your provider may limit the repair costs it will pay out for and may not give you a courtesy car while yours is being repaired - though your own garage may provide you with one.
Before any work starts, you must contact your motor insurer to let it know you want to use your own garage.
It’ll usually ask that you send an estimate of the repairs to approve. And it may want to inspect the car too, just to be sure your garage isn’t overcharging.
If you take your car for repairs before it’s been assessed, your insurer could refuse to pay out.
What are the pros and cons of using your own chosen repairer?
- You can have your car repaired by a garage you know and trust who may have worked on your car before.
- You can choose to take your car to a specialist used to working on your make and model of car.
- Your local garage may be closer than any of your insurer’s approved repairers.
- You’re unlikely to get a courtesy car from your insurer while yours is being repaired - though your own garage may offer you one.
- Insurers typically guarantee repairs completed by an approved repairer for a set period. If you use your own repairer you won’t benefit from this guarantee, although your chosen repairer might still offer their own.
- You could be charged an additional excess for using your own repairer. This can be as much as 100% added to the standard excess.
- You need to get an estimate from your garage and wait for this to be approved by your insurance provider before work on your car can start. This could take longer than you’d like.
- Your insurer may not pay out the full cost of the repairs. It might argue that it could’ve arranged the repairs for less through its approved repairer. If this is the case, the insurer may only agree to pay out what it would have paid to have the work done with its approved garage.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of an insurance provider’s approved repairer?
- Providers often only work with approved British Standard or Kitemark approved garages.
- With a large network, there’s usually an approved repairer local to you.
- You don’t need to organise estimates and submit them to your insurer, so the process can be quicker.
- Approved repairers often offer a collection and delivery service free of charge.
- A courtesy car may be included as standard with a comprehensive car insurance policy.
- Some providers offer access to an online tracking tool so you can see the progress of your car repairs.
- Repairs may be guaranteed for three or more years, and some providers offer a lifetime guarantee for work done.
- Depending on where you live, there may not be an approved repairer particularly close to you.
- An approved repairer may not specialise in repairing your make and model of vehicle.
How to find an approved garage near you
Your insurance claim handler can find the nearest approved garage. They can then book in your car for the repair, so there’s no need for you to get any estimates for work.
Free collection of your vehicle and delivery back to you is usually available too.
Your provider can also organise a courtesy car while yours is being repaired, as long as it’s included in your policy. This will usually be delivered when your car is collected for repairs.
Many providers offer an online tracking tool you can access to keep track of the progress of your car’s repairs, giving you a better idea of when you can expect to get your car back.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, in most instances, your car will be collected and then returned free of charge once work has been completed on it. Check with your provider if that’s the case on your policy.
If there’s an issue when you get your car back from the approved repairer, or you’re not happy with the quality of work carried out, you can contact your insurer to put things right.
It might mean that your car goes back to the approved repairer. Or you may want to request that your insurer pays for your car to be fixed by your own choice of repairer instead.
If the issue isn’t resolved, and you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, you can make an official complaint to your insurer. Keep a copy of all correspondence - including letters and emails and notes of any phone calls made. If you’re unhappy with your provider’s final response, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service to resolve it.
No, it’s your legal right to take your car to a repairer of your choice when making an insurance claim. You don’t have to use one of your insurer’s approved repairers.
You’ll need to let your provider know you want to use your own choice of garage before any work is done on your car, though. It’ll usually ask that you get an estimate from your repairer for the work so it can be authorised. Your insurer may want to inspect the car afterwards and could even ask that you obtain alternative estimates.
Some will ask you to pay an additional excess if you use your own repairer rather than one of their approved repairers.