I recently had to submit a claim to my motor vehicle insurance company. The insurance company quickly approved the claim and said that everything was ready to go. Their authorised repairer would carry out the work, all they needed was the go-ahead from me.

As with most of my blog posts, I ran into a personal obstacle. I tried to look online whether an insurance company can legally force the policy holder to only use their authorised or preferred repairers. Turns out, this information wasn’t readily available anywhere. Out of desperation I contacted the repairer that I wanted to use and asked them for advice.

Insurance companies pretend to have all the power but as a consumer, we are actually more empowered than we know. Insurance companies don’t like the public knowing this as it messes with their financial incentives. There is a lot of loyalty between insurers, assessors and repairers to ensure that they get the business.

Now for the good bits. So, as the consumer what are we allowed to request?

Firstly, you can request that the insurance company provides you with an indemnity form that will free them from any legal responsibility should you not be happy with the repairs from the company your choose. Once this is signed they will authorise your repairer to carry out the vehicle repairs. When the job is complete, they will send the invoice to the insurance company to be settled.

Alternatively, if you are not sure which repairer you would like to use you can request that the insurer pays you out the amount approved for the repairs minus the excess. You are then free to shop around and can negotiate a better cash rate with the repairer of your choice.

My insurer did not agree to the cash payout but instead provided the indemnity form which I gladly signed. The panel shop then phoned to say that they’ve been authorised to carry out my repairs and we made arrangements to bring the car to their shop.

Insurers might have the upper hand when it comes to getting their way but it’s worth empowering ourselves with knowledge to level the playing field.

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