What does ‘choice of repairer’ really mean?

As you’d expect, car insurance policies have a lot of complexity, whether it’s for business or personal use. This article addresses some common cover misconceptions around ‘choice of repairer’ to help you avoid unwanted confusion come claim time.

With restrictions easing across most of Australia and traffic volumes up, now is the time to reassess your insurance policy and make sure you’re covered in the way you expect.

Did you know, for instance, that almost two-thirds of Australians aged 18 and above with a driver’s licence have had at least one car accident, according to an insurance industry survey? Time and time again, it’s due to speeding!

There were 1,004  car crashes in Australia last year, says White Box Analytics. It found that men aged 26-39 were involved in more vehicle accidents in 2020 than in previous years, and figures also showed that overall, men were in more than double the number of accidents than women.

As for women, they tended to have more crashes on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The statistics also show people aged 17 to 25 were involved in a very high number of crashes.

Confusion at claim time

A common misconception when making claims is that you must use your insurer’s preferred vehicle repairer. In fact it’s your policy wording that will detail whether you do or don’t, and the good news is, that you do often have choice in this matter. Some insurers own repair centres, while others give you an option. However, even if the policy allows the customer to select the repairer, new legislation recently introduced will deem the repairer to be acting on behalf of the insurer.

What does this mean?

While you’ll likely pay a higher premium if you select your own repairer – on average $10 a month more, under new legislation in the General Insurance Code of Practice, the insurer is responsible for the quality of work and materials used, and will have to provide a hire car if any repair requires rectification where they have selected and directly authorised a repairer.

Changes to the General Insurance Code of Practice and new financial services laws have established this stronger consumer protection in the event that the insurer chooses the repairer. The 2020 Code commits subscribers to “high standards of service, requiring them to be honest, efficient, fair, transparent and timely in their dealings with their customers and others entitled to the protections provided by the Code.” Therefore, there may be some merit in buying a car insurance policy where the insurer selects the repairer. Why?

  • Most leading insurers use large, established repairers who generally provide a smooth process for claimants.
  • The insurer would be subject to complaints and dispute resolution systems required by the law and Code for the conduct of the repairer, plus any time delays.

What does ‘choice of repairer’ actually mean?

Be sure to check the policy because it may not define ‘choice’ as a layperson would. Often such a policy has limits on ‘choice’. For example:

  • You can suggest a repairer, but the insurer will need to approve them before work starts, potentially delaying repairs
  • You can select a quote, but not the repairer
  • You can opt for a cash settlement if the insurer doesn’t agree with your repairer, but you may be out of pocket for the difference. In such instances, the insurer will have to provide a Cash Settlement Fact Sheet (CSFS) which sets out the value and terms of the cash settlement being offered.

Helping you decide

Selecting a policy where the insurer dictates its preferred or approved repairer means you have their lifetime guarantee on repairs completed. If at fault and or you can’t identify the driver of the at-fault vehicle, you’ll only need to pay your excess, meaning no extra charges.

As an insurance professional, we are specialists in deciphering the policy fine print, to help ensure your vehicle insurance cover aligns with your needs and expectations when things don’t go to plan.

CBN Insurance professionals, are specialists in deciphering the policy fine print, to help ensure your vehicle insurance cover aligns with your needs and expectations when things don’t go to plan.

For professional insurance advice, connect with a CBN Authorised Broker.

Connect with a CBN Broker

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The Community Broker Network (CBN) was formed following the acquisition of Westcourt General Insurance Brokers (WGIB), the subsequent merger with National Advisor Services (NAS) and the transfer of former CGU Authorised Representatives’s into NAS.

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