Preferred repairer schemes can work against you

Sheen Panel Service on 19 February 2019

Human beings, as a rule, want to do the right thing. That's why when we're in an accident or prang our car, we call our insurers, believing they'll give us the best information and advice.

The problem is, sometimes that belief is mistaken. A car insurer may be able to swiftly arrange for a panel beater to remedy the damage to your vehicle, but their preferred repairer won't necessarily be the best or most competent at their trade.

Car insurance policies either give you the option to choose your own repairer or force you to go with an insurer preferred repairer. In this article, we'll run through the reasons why you should be wary of insurers who heavily insist on going with their preferred repairer and why you should always seek out a smash repairer that works for you.

Whether your insurance policy gives you a 'choice of repairer' or not, call Sheen first on 1300 REPAIR. We will help you understand and assess your options.

The difference between preferred repairer and choice of repairer

If you have a good car insurance policy, you’ll likely have the option to choose between a preferred repairer, and a choice of repairer. But what’s the difference between the two?

  • Preferred repairer: Your insurer has a network of mechanics and panel beaters to hire to fix your car.
  • Choice of repairer: Your policy enables you to choose your own repairer, meaning you can opt for a mechanic or panel beater you already know and trust.

Insurers often strive to get cars repaired quickly, and at cost effective prices. The problem is, the panel beater they’ve enlisted may not know the specifics of your car, or may fix it in a rush – leaving you to deal with the fallout months or years later.

If you don’t know whether your policy includes a choice of repairer, read the Product Disclosure Statement or call your insurance company. It’s important to note that some policies will include ‘choice of preferred repairer’ which has been worded in such a way to give the reader the impression that they can choose a mechanic. In reality, this is just another way to say ‘preferred repairer’.

Risks of insurance preferred repairers

Insurance preferred repairers are often the default repairers that the insurer will recommend, and it's important to note right off the bat that you don't need to go with them if your policy gives you a 'choice of repairer'.

Most people think that choosing not to go with a preferred repairer means extra effort, but in fact, this is not true. A good smash repairer will handle insurance claims for you.

Insurance providers like to use preferred repairers because they have agreements with them surrounding repair costs and guaranteed workflows. In some cases, a guaranteed workflow is offered in return for a reduced cost in repairs. This isn't good news for you, the customer, because with a reduced budget and timeframe for repair services, it can be hard for a smash repairer to complete their work to the highest possible standard.

In other words, your car may not receive the attention and focus it deserves. And in this situation, no one benefits apart from the insurance provider.

There have been numerous cases in the public spotlight in recent years which suggest that the insurance industry's preferred repairer schemes may be leading to substandard repair work. Don't fall victim to preferred repairer schemes that shortchange customers with second-rate services.

Ask your panel beater first

If you've been to a dedicated smash repairer in the past, you know the level of service and customer care is second-to-none. Expert smash repairers will dedicate the necessary time and care it takes to get your car back to pre-crash condition, and often throw in extra perks such as an accident replacement vehicle and a complimentary car wash.

When you initially choose a car insurance policy, make sure it includes the option to 'choose your repairer'. That means that if you have the misfortune of getting into a smash or accident, you can contact your repairer of choice to get a personalised quote and advice on next steps. Specialist smash repairers have years of experience dealing with Australia's premium car insurance providers. They will be able to explain the terms of your insurance policy in language you understand and speak with your insurance provider on your behalf.

Your car insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) will outline whether you have your choice of repairer in the event of an accident. If your policy includes your choice of repairer, then you are entitled to choose your mechanic or panel beater and reject the insurer's preferred repairer for any reason.

Many people forget this, but we cannot emphasise it enough: you have the right to shop around and choose the repairer that you want.

Why choose Sheen Group?

sheen insurance lady on phone

There are many advantages to choosing Sheen as your preferred smash repairer. We have been serving Melbourne motorists since 1969, and with 26 locations across Victoria, there's bound to be a Sheen Panel Service near you.

We can go back and forth with your insurer for you, and we guarantee that if you have 'choice of repairer' stated in your insurance policy, you can select us as your repair option. We can also help you understand the benefits included in your cover and any inclusions or exclusions related to the benefits.

Our Upload Your Smash page enables us to come back to you with a quote within the hour, and we work quickly to return your car to its pre-accident condition without cutting corners. We use the best tools, processes and technology in the industry, and offer a lifetime guarantee on all our repairs.

You wouldn't want just anyone to work on your car. If your car insurance policy gives you a 'choice of repairer', call Sheen first on 1300 REPAIR or send us a message online.