I can now tell you that one of the few worthwhile daytime programmes on the go is “Don’t Get Done – Get Dom”. Dom Littlewood is the BBC’s roving money advisor and scam reporter, and let’s face it with crooks and con artists at record levels he has plenty of choice for subjects.
On 20th November 2014 he told the story of Des Dennistoun who had been involved in a rear end shunt i.e. he was sitting stationary when another vehicle ran into the back of him. The other driver immediately admitted liability (he could hardly do otherwise) and his insurers Admiral arranged a courtesy car and put Des’s car in for repair at a garage of their choice. That’s when Des’s problems started. The vehicle was returned supposedly repaired but with various faults including dangling wires, air gaps around the brake lights, excess sealant applied and a boot mat which would longer sit properly. When he complained to Admiral he was told that although the repairs might not be perfect they were “commercially acceptable”. To cut a half hour programme short, after a lot of trouble including the cost of an independent assessor report and finally the intervention of Dom at the BBC, Des’s car was finally repaired to its pre-accident condition. What the programme didn’t tell viewers was that Des’s problems with the quality of a repair arranged by an insurance company are surprisingly common. In 2013 the UK Competition Commission Report carried out an independent assessment of vehicle repairs done at the instance of insurance companies. They found that excessive pressure on costs by insurers on their selected garages, led to cutting corners on repairs.
“Too many non fault claimants receive a quality of service below the legal standard”.
They went on to say:-
“Insurers do not have the necessary incentive to ensure that claimants get the quality of service on repair to which they are entitled”.
The problem is that the insurers have been able to drive down costs at their approved garages. The market labour rate at a garage is £45.00 per hour. The insurers will pay no more than £22- £25 per hour to their approved garage network , so you shouldn’t be surprised if a few shortcuts get taken.
The law says that if you are a non-fault driver you can instruct your own repair from an independent garage as a matter of right, but the at fault insurer is unlikely to tell you this.
Once you have an accident you will generally start to get cold calls, texts and letters, all from persons who say they are on your side. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the process. What has happened is that your details and in particular your mobile phone number have been disclosed somewhere along the line and sold on in breach of the Data Protection Act. Don’t accept what you are told at face value and don’t simply go with the flow. Always remind yourself is that it is your injury, your car damage, your wage loss etc. Stop and take control of matters and refer to someone who only has your interests at heart.
The advice given by Dom in the programme was that you should have the repair done by your own insurance company, because that way you could report the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman if you were unhappy with matters. This seems a very cumbersome way to go about things, and will initially cost you your no claims bonus.
If all that has happened to you is that your car has been damaged there is probably no harm done by allowing the at-fault driver’s insurers to deal with matters initially, but you should know that you have the right to instruct your own independent garage to carry out a proper repair and you should insist on doing that. Don’t go to their recommended garage..
If you have suffered any kind of personal injury in a car accident whether as a driver or a passenger it is really quite simple. The at fault insurer is not on your side. You need to instruct a lawyer to make sure that you get the proper level of compensation to which you are entitled as a matter of right.
If this is happening to you right now, don’t get injured twice, contact a lawyer..