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common complaints and case studies

Jon

 

my insurer is taking too long to repair my car

We hear from people who are unhappy with how long it has taken for their insurer to repair their car. Some people tell us they’ve had a lot of inconvenience as a result.

  • We see a wide range of complaints about repairs. To decide whether the insurer's taken a reasonable amount of time, we'll consider the particular circumstances and any evidence that's available. For example, we might ask to see the repair estimate, which should show the extent of work that needed to be done.
  • If there’s been a delay, we’ll ask the insurer what’s been happening. For example, it may be that parts had to be ordered in. And we’ll check how they communicated the delay to their customer.
  • If we decide there isn't a good reason for the delay, we'll check whether the insurer did anything to reduce the inconvenience - for example, by offering a courtesy or hire car. Depending on what's happened, we may tell the insurer to compensate their customer for the inconvenience of not having their car.
Claire

 

I've had to hire another car because the repairs have taken so long ...

Some people complain that they’ve had to hire another car while theirs is being repaired - but their insurer is refusing to cover the costs.

  • If there’s been a delay on the insurer’s part - and someone’s had to hire a car in the meantime - we may tell the insurer to cover the costs. But we’ll look into the individual circumstances to decide what’s fair.
  • For example, if someone lived on a bus route but took a taxi every day they didn’t have a car, we might not agree it’s fair for the insurer to cover all the costs. On the other hand, if someone had mobility issues, the answer might be different.
  • If someone’s insurance entitled them to a courtesy car - but they didn’t get one - we’ll usually tell the insurer to pay compensation. We’ll look into the particular inconvenience someone’s experienced - and what they did, or could have done, to get around it.
  • Some people choose not to take out courtesy car cover when they buy their insurance. If this is the case, we’ll generally only tell the insurer to pay compensation if there’s been an unreasonable delay - even if things have taken slightly longer than expected.

case study 1

Miss B wasn’t given the courtesy car she was entitled to. But she didn’t raise it with her insurer until after she’d run up substantial travel costs - which her insurer then refused to reimburse.

Looking at what had happened, it was clear that if Miss B had told the insurer sooner, they would have given her a courtesy car - saving a significant amount of money. So we explained it wouldn’t be fair to tell the insurer to cover the travel costs in full.

case study 2

Mrs C’s insurer took nearly six months to repair her car - but didn’t give her a courtesy car beyond the 14 days the policy said they had to. A lot of the delay was due to wrong parts being ordered. Mrs C spent nearly £2,000 on taxis to take her children to school - which her insurer refused to pay for.

Mrs C told us she lived in a rural area without regular buses or trains. We told the insurer to cover the taxi costs - taking off how much it would have cost Mrs C to run her own car over the time in question.

Kevin

 

the repairs aren't good enough ...

Some people tell us that the repairs to their vehicle are poor quality or incomplete.

  • There may be confusion about who’s responsible for sorting out any problems with repairs. In general, if the repairs have been carried out by one of the insurer’s “approved” garages, the insurer will be responsible. If someone has arranged the repairs themselves - at a garage they’ve chosen - they’ll usually be responsible.
  • We’ll ask for evidence about the condition of the vehicle before and after it was damaged. This might include documents and photos from the insurer and their customer - as well as reports from independent experts, such as engineers. If something’s particularly unclear from what we’ve seen, we might suggest that the insurer or the customer arrange to get a further expert view.
  • We’ll check whether the insurer’s repairs put the car in the condition it was in before it was damaged. If not, we’ll usually tell the insurer to arrange further repairs.
  • If someone doesn’t want their insurer to be involved any more, it might be practical for the insurer to give them the money to get the repairs done themselves. Insurers sometimes call this a "cash in lieu" payment.

case study 3

After an accident, Mr F’s insurer agreed to repair his car’s bodywork. But they said the engine damage had been caused over time, not by the accident.

Mr F told us his car had passed its MOT before the accident, so the engine couldn’t have been damaged then. The insurer sent us a report from an independent engineer. This was very detailed, including photos of the rust on the engine and comments about long-standing engine damage.

We explained that the MOT proved that the car was safe to drive, but not that it was damage-free. In light of the engineer’s detailed, independent view, we decided the insurer’s decision was fair.

case study 4

Mr J agreed with his insurer that he would get the repairs done at a garage of his choice - instead of one of the insurer’s “approved” garages. When this garage caused further damage, his insurer refused to help. They said they’d told Mr J he wouldn’t be covered if he went to a “non-approved” garage.

When we asked the insurer for evidence they’d told Mr J, they didn’t have any. There were no phone recordings and their file notes simply said “Mr J to use own garage. Will send invoice”. We didn’t think the insurer had done enough to make Mr J aware that he wouldn’t be covered - so we told them to pay for the repairs.

Julie

 

the repairs to my car don't match how it was originally ...

Some people complain that the damaged parts of their car haven’t been replaced with something matching or identical.

  • Most car insurance policies only require the insurer to replace the parts that were damaged. Some people complain to us that their insurer should replace a whole set - for example, a set of alloy wheels. Or they might feel the insurer’s replacement isn’t a close enough match.
  • This type of policy wording isn’t unfair. But it’s not fair to leave someone with parts of a car that look significantly different to existing parts. We’ll check the insurer has tried to find a matching part - or, if this wasn’t possible, a reasonably close match.
  • If the insurer can’t find a suitable replacement, we often decide it’s fair and pragmatic for the two sides to meet each other half way - so each pay half the cost of a complete matching set.
Kevin

 

my car shouldn't have been repaired - the insurer should have written it off ...

We hear from people who are unhappy with their insurer’s decision to repair their car after an accident - rather than writing it off and giving them the money.

  • We’ll need to know more about the car and the repairs to decide whether the insurer’s decision is reasonable. We’ll establish the condition of the car before it was damaged - and how much they estimated the repairs would cost.
  • We might say it’s reasonable to repair a car if it’s worth more than the cost of the repairs. On the other hand, if the cost of repairs is more than the value of the car, it might be reasonable to write it off.
  • Some people who contact us are refusing to allow their car to be repaired because they think it should be written off. If we think that the insurer’s decision to repair it is fair, we might suggest that the insurer give their customer the money to get the repairs done themselves. Insurers sometimes call this a "cash in lieu" payment.
  • There’s more information in our approach to car write-offs and valuations.

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consumer helpline - 0800 023 4567
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