Late last year, my elderly (hope she doesn’t read this!! – sorry Ma) mother had a small and unfortunately incident with a pylon in her favourite shopping centre. Most importantly, she’s fine and the car is still safe and driveable, but looking a little less perfect than I’d like. The victim in this case is a 2011 Mazda 3 – damage: driver side guard and bumper. Being a 3 layer pearlescent white, it’s likely to need blending across a number of panels to ensure an appropriate colour match.
I’ve got a great repairer – he’s probably going to be able to do it without blending because his painter is a wizard, so naturally the first person I went to was him. Being someone I’ve known and trusted for some time – he understands where I am at with life, so he came out to check and quote the vehicle at my parents home. My next port of call was the insurer, who I wont name here. My parents have been with this company now for about 15 years. Each year my dad diligently takes the paperwork for all their policies, 6 weeks before they’re due and pays them at the local post office. He then takes the receipt-stapled copy of his paperwork and puts them in his files – bless. Never once was a question ever asked about premium – on her policy, mum had only had one claim about which was about 10 years ago now.
“She went on to say that from the next renewal I would have no option AT ALL to have my own repairer in the process – there would be absolutely no control over who would work on the vehicle”
Upon lodging the claim, I was told that I had to drop the car off at a company-owned panel shop and they would deal with it. To which I responded that I’d rather go through the self-quote process. The response? that this wasn’t an option because my rights to do so had changed at renewal. As I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart rate pick up, I ask her to point me to where I could find the clause in the PDS that stipulated this. After some fumbling, she noted that because our policy had renewed before the cut-off, we were fine to go through the “two quote” process. She went on to say that from the next renewal I would have no option AT ALL to have my own repairer in the process – there would be absolutely no control over who would work on the vehicle.
So with my original quote done, I asked for a repair organisation of their choosing. Name and number in hand I called them to organise a time to take the car in for a quote, only to be told that they couldn’t fit me in for 2 weeks due to the Christmas rush: great. I decided to leave it alone and just enjoy the festive season; i’d revisit it all in the new year. A few weeks ago I tried to combine some meetings I had in the area with a quick quote, to be told they “couldn’t fit me in until the next week” and that just “dropping in” wasn’t an option for them if I wanted to undertake the 2 quote option… interesting.
Today, I called the repairer again to see if they could fit me in tomorrow, a Saturday, for a quote. I was told that they aren’t open on Saturdays. A slightly frustrated call back to the insurer for some leniency given the circumstances was met with a “no, sorry you need to follow process”.
This is where I’ve left things for now.
So why does this story matter to you? This story is exactly the reason why when we pulled together our 4X4 Enthusiast Comprehensive Motor Insurance product – we gave every single customer the right to take their vehicle to their own repairer first. The only time we look for a second quote is if it’s plainly obvious that the initial quote is gouging – that doesn’t help anyone and means premiums go up. Our average cost of repair is about double what the general market pays, but this is what it takes to take care of enthusiasts the right way – not taking care of our interests and making our customers fit our preferred mould.
“if you care about who works on your car, make sure you check your current policies and any paperwork that comes out when they renew”
My advice – if you care about who works on your car, make sure you check your current policies and any paperwork that comes out when they’re up for renewal – you may find out that you’ve got zero control when it’s too late. If you care about who works on your car, seek out your insurers process around assigning repair work and whether you have a choice. If they claim that you do have a choice, ask how many quotes you need to get.
I’ve said it on countless occasions, it’s fine to focus on premium – but you always, always get what you pay for.
Happy Touring folks