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Choice of repairer in car insurance

Should you choose your own repairer or use the insurers?


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Repairing car

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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. 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

Virgin money logo

Virgin Comprehensive

NRMA logo

NRMA Comprehensive


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
UbiCar logoIncluded in comprehensive policyMore info
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
Budget Direct Comprehensive
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.

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

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low cost option that covers them for the basics.
Youi Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in their policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also have a live chat feature on their 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.
Woolworths Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Woolworths catch our eye due to some unique perks like a price beat guarantee, where they'll beat any current comparable Comprehensive renewal notice if you're over 25. You'll also get 10% off your grocery shop once a month, and can add roadside assistance onto your policy for just $7.35 per month.

Who it might be good for: Woolworths shoppers and those that want to take advantage of their Price Beat.
Virgin Comprehensive
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. You'll get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you buy online and get access to their hail hero service. Plus, get a $100 e-Gift card when you purchase a new policy by 30 November 2020 (T&Cs apply).

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy that's affordable.
Qantas Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to pick and choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be thanks to optional extras like roadside assistance, choice of your own repairer, and the option of agreed or market value. Plus, you'll earn Qantas Points when you join and get access to the Qantas Wellness App.

Who it might be good for: People who love collecting frequent flyer points.
Poncho Comprehensive
Finder's summary: Poncho works like a monthly subscription - you pay monthly and can cancel and leave at anytime. 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.
Coles Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Coles have two-tiers of comprehensive car insurance to choose from. You'll 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 you're over 30, you can get roadside assistance free for a year.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Stella Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. They'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. They offer higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats. You get a free Bauer magazine subscription when you sign up and a portion of your premiums go to supporting female-led businesses.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (they'll cover men too!).
Kogan Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Kogan comes with all the perks that most comprehensive car insurance policies include but you'll also be entitled to some benefits on their online store. This usually comes in the form of a gift voucher or discount if you buy online. Plus, Kogan offer a pay as you drive option, which could be good if you're not on the road that much.

Who it might be good for: Kogan shoppers and those that don't drive much.

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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