Choice of repairer in car insurance

Should you choose your own repairer or use the insurers?

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Repairing car

When choosing a car insurance policy, you'll have the option of going with an insurer that will let you choose your own repairer or to go with one of their own insurer approved mechanics. But what one is best to go with?

In this article, we put both options under the microscope. In most cases, it's actually a better option to pay a little extra and get your own choice of repairer as you'll have more control over the repair process and quality of work.

'Choice' vs. 'preferred' repairer

When you take out a vehicle insurance policy, you will usually be offered 'choice of repairer' or 'preferred repairer' following an incident. If you're given a choice, the insurer will allow you to send your car where you want it to go, even if it ends up costing a little more. If you're under 'preferred', your insurer will send your car to a repairer that they have an agreement with.

Here's a quick overview of some important points of comparison between the two:

Choice of repairer Preferred repairer
You choose where to go Could be outside of your local area
Can sometimes be a lot faster as you can choose to go to any mechanic you like Potentially longer waiting times due to larger backlog and your vehicle not being a priority
Can pick a specialist repairer if appropriate May or may not have expertise in repairing your specific vehicle
Might require you to haggle with your insurer more if you get a repairer's quote that costs a lot more than the preferred repairers You shouldn't have to pay more than your excess
You rely upon your repairer's guarantee if there are issues with the repairs You have your insurer's guarantee on any repairs carried out

Why choose your own repairer?

Choosing your own repairer comes with a number of benefits, especially if you're worried about how fast or how well your car will be repaired. Additionally, if you know your regular mechanic well and are happy with how they treat your car, you'll get the added bonus of not only being able to provide them with work but knowing your vehicle will be cared for.

Here's some of the big benefits of picking your own repairer:

  • You can repair specialist cars. Choice of repairer is vital for owners of prestige or vintage cars. Taking your Mercedes to someone who knows how to treat it will likely lead to better outcomes than if a mechanic used to regular vehicles takes a shot at it.
  • You might not have to travel as far. While preferred repairers could be almost anywhere, you can choose to take your car somewhere in your local area. This can save you a lot of time and hassle in getting it there, checking in on the progress of repairs, and picking it up when it's completed.
  • You won't need to wait in line for a repairer to look at your car. Preferred repairers can have a big backlog of repairs to be done due to the high volume of work they get from insurers. Taking your vehicle somewhere that can get the repairs done as soon as possible can cut down the time you're left waiting without a car.
  • Quality repairs. Because your own mechanic gets paid more for the job and you can pick someone you know to use high-quality parts, you're more likely to get quality repairs.

Why choose the insurer's repairer?

While picking your own repairer is often useful, as explained above, that doesn't mean they're better than preferred repairers in every way. Using the repairer that your insurance company nominates can have its own benefits, including:

  • No extra charges. When you have an accident and choose your own insurer, the insurer will compare the quote your repairer provides for the damage against their own preferred mechanic. Since preferred repairers will generally have lower quotes due to their deal with the insurance company, you may well be charged some of this difference when you make your own choice. With preferred repairers, you'll only pay your excess.
  • Streamlined repair process. Because your insurer works closely with their preferred repairer, you won't need to go back and forth with quotes or try and justify repairs as much. You also won't have to worry about certain repairs being knocked back or only being covered partially for some costs.
  • Insurer repair guarantee. When there's a problem with repairs that have been carried out by a preferred repairer, you can claim the subsequent damage under your car insurance policy. With your own choice of repairer, you'll be liable to pay for whatever damage might occur as a result of their repairs. 'Lifetime repair guarantees' that appear on policies will usually only apply to preferred repairers.

Who offers a choice of repairer in Australia?

Provider Choice of repairer Hire car after accident
UbiCar logo Included in comprehensive policy Optional extra
Budget direct logo Optional extra in comprehensive policy Included on both comprehensive policies
Youi Logo Optional extra for comprehensive and third party, fire and theft policies Optional extra for comprehensive and third party, fire and theft policies
Virgin money logo Optional extra on comprehensive policy Optional extra on comprehensive policy
Picture not described Optional extra on both comprehensive policies Included on 'comprehensive plus' policy, optional on regular comprehensive policy
Allianz logo Included in comprehensive policy Optional extra on comprehensive policy
CGU Logo Included in comprehensive policy Optional extra on comprehensive policy

Filter for choice of repairer with these companies

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Bingle Comprehensive
Coles Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Save 10% when you buy online + collect double flybuys points at Coles Supermarkets. T&Cs apply.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Buy online and save 15%.
Youi Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Emergency roadside assistance included in Comprehensive policies.
Real Comprehensive
Save up to 10% when you buy online.
Virgin Comprehensive
Save 15% when purchasing online. Plus earn 5,000 Velocity Points when purchasing a new eligible policy by 29 April 2020. T&Cs apply.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Buy online and save up to 15%. Price-beat guarantee for drivers aged over 25. T&Cs apply.

Compare up to 4 providers

At the end of the day…

If you're at all concerned about how well your car is going to be treated after an incident and want to make sure you have a say in how the repairs are going to get carried out, you should always go with a policy that allows you a choice of repairer.

On the other hand, if you're content to let your insurer handle all the back and forth about repairs and specifications - particularly if your car could be placed under a 'lifetime repair guarantee' - then preferred repairer is a decent choice too.

Overall, having the option to pick your own repairer can save you a headache in case of trouble and is just more flexible. After all, you always have the choice of going with your insurer's preferred repairer if you want to, whereas with a preferred repairer policy the decision is out of your hands.

Picture: GettyImages

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