AFCA gives Aussie motorists back the right to choose their repairer

Tara McCabe

27 Aug 2019

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So your car is out of commission after an accident and you have to find another mode of transport to get to work or pick up your kids from school. That inconvenience is stressful and time-consuming enough - and now your car insurer has refused the repairer you’ve chosen with little or no explanation. 

If you’ve ever found yourself in this frustrating situation, you’re not alone. For years car insurers have been rejecting consumer’s chosen repairers, taking advantage of a clause many car insurance policies have, allowing insurers to reject the consumer’s chosen repairer at their discretion.

But things are about to get a lot easier for motorists all over Australia, as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority has instructed car insurer’s to use the motorists’ choice of repairer, as promised in their policies. 

As Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) said “AFCA found, in case 620915, in favour of the consumer because the consumer had purchased an insurance policy that gave them the right to choose their repairer, and the insurer was found to not have met its contractual obligations, under the policy.”

“This ruling reinforces a motorist’s right – where they have a ‘choice of repairer’ policy – to have their vehicle repaired where they choose.”

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AFCA has not only given drivers back their right to choose, but with this landmark decision also discouraged underfunded or incomplete repairs and unfair cash settlements. 

Previously insurers would often opt for a repairer with a cheaper estimate, giving the insurer an excuse to provide the consumer with an unfair cash settlement. 

In other cases, when the job wasn’t done properly the vehicle would wind up being re-repaired by the repairer the driver chose initially, wasting time and money.

As Gwilym said, “AFCA has restored the policyholder’s choice of repairer rights and a right to have their vehicle repaired to a safe standard.” 

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So the next time you need your car repaired, you can feel confident in your right to choose your own repairer. If your insurer does insist on going with a different repairer, you can ask them for a full explanation and what the proposed repair methods are, for example, if the repairer intends to use new or second-hand parts.

But when picking out a car insurance policy for your wheels, it’s important to remember that not all policies offer the right to choose your own repairer, despite how important it can be for drivers. In fact, having your choice of repairer was one of the factors we took into consideration when awarding car insurers the 2018 Mozo Expert’s Choice Award for Exceptional Quality

Why not take a look at the winners, or check out our car insurance policies comparison tool.

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