Choice of repairer car insurance

Choice of repairer car insurance gives you control over the repair process for a little extra per month.

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In most cases, you'll need to pay a little extra for a car insurance policy that lets you choose who repairs your vehicle. But for those who want more control over the repair process and quality of work, it might be worth it.

'Choice' vs. insurers '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 repairerInsurers 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

What's the cost difference between the two?

Unsure whether it's worth adding 'Choice of Repairer' to your policy? We received some quotes from car insurers that included the benefit as an optional extra to see how much more it would cost a month to have your own choice of repairer.

On average, it'll set you back an extra $10 a month. If you've used the same mechanic for a number of years and have found them to be trustworthy and reliable, then that extra bit of money might be worth it. Otherwise, it's probably money you can save.

Keep in mind that your quote may differ depending on factors such as your age, gender, car and where you live. The excess will also affect your premiums. Keep in mind that the below costs are not indicative of what you should expect to pay for a policy - the costs simply indicate the difference in price for opting into your own choice of repairer. Be sure to check the product disclosure statement (PDS) on the provider page to help you make the right choice.

*Quotes based on a 30 year old male driving a 2019 Toyota Corolla in NSW.

ProviderWithout 'Choice of Repairer' includedWith 'Choice of Repairer' included
Budget Direct Logo

Budget Direct Comprehensive

$93.69$103.01
Virgin money logo

Virgin Comprehensive

$112.32$123.35
NRMA logo

NRMA Comprehensive

$100.93$111.02

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?

ProviderChoice of repairerGet quote
Budget direct logoOptional extra in comprehensive policyGet quote
Youi LogoOptional extra for comprehensive and third party, fire and theft policiesGet quote
Virgin money logoOptional extra on comprehensive policyGet quote
Picture not describedOptional extra on both comprehensive policiesMore info
Allianz logoIncluded in comprehensive policyMore info
CGU LogoIncluded in comprehensive policyMore info

Filter for choice of repairer with these companies

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If your car is damaged, you could benefit from a one-week turnaround on repairs.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2019 Finder Awards for Best Value Car Insurance, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to manage their policy online 24/7.
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2019 Finder Award for the Best Value Car Insurance, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
Poncho Comprehensive
Agreed
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription – you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at any time. You can also list multiple cars and drivers under one policy, making it ideal for families and groups living together under one household.

Who it might be good for: People who want their car insurance month to month.
Huddle Black Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Huddle's black comprehensive is its cover with highest limits and exclusive benefits. It includes roadside assistance. You can also get up to $2,000 for emergency travel and accommodation and up to $30 million legal liability cover.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a 24/7 claims processing.
PD Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed
Finder's summary: PD comprehensive car insurance policy lets you buy, manage, and start your claims process online. It includes cover for emergency repairs up to $500 and free windscreen chip repair. Ability to customise your extras cover.

⭐ Current offer: New policyholders can enjoy 15% off on their first year's premium. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those with low claims history and the only driver.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. It'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. It offers higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (it will cover men too).
QBE Comprehensive
Green Company
QBE Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: QBE is a sustainable insurance company and also Finder's Green Insurer of the Year 2021 award winner. This policy offers the highest level of protection available from QBE including three-year new car replacement.

⭐ Current offer: Save $75 when you purchase a new comprehensive policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Those that are looking for a more environmentally friendly insurance choice.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder's summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums. Its Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to its standard comprehensive cover.

⭐ Current offer: Get up to 15% off when you purchase a new car insurance policy. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off your first year’s premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
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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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