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Insurance companies use a wide range of tactics to confuse customers and direct them towards so-called ‘approved garages’ in what is nothing more than a cost-cutting exercise.


Unfortunately, most insurers try to confuse motorists by claiming that these repair shops are better.

However, in reality, an ‘approved garage’ is simply a garage that has an agreement with the insurance company to charge less in exchange for high volume or work being directed to them.

That agreement usually involves the repairer working at a greatly discounted cost and using methods pre-determined by the insurer.

‘Approved’ in this context has nothing to do with the quality of the repair that will be carried out.

It’s your car, your choice.

Did you know that when you’re involved in a motor accident and need to make an insurance claim, legally you are always allowed to pick the garage you want to carry out the repairs?

Although insurance companies know that they cannot insist on a vehicle’s repair at their chosen garage, they use a wide range of tactics to convince motorists otherwise.

The benefits of using an independent repairer

There are over 100 independent accident repair centres across Northern Ireland who can help you during what can be a stressful time.

Many are small, family-run businesses that offer local employment and have been around for decades.

They will work for you alone; they aren’t controlled or manipulated by an insurance company.

A common tactic from insurance companies is to insist that their so-called ‘approved garages’ use spurious parts (cheaper parts that are not genuine nor recommended/sold by your vehicle’s manufacturer).

Your local repairer can engage with your insurer to ensure your vehicle’s repair is subject to the correct manufacturer-approved methods, using only the manufacturer’s parts – unless YOU request otherwise.

Always insist on using the provider that you know and trust; one that can give you independent advice is a good option.

Here are some of the most common myths about getting your car repaired that you might hear when you contact your insurance company.

Myth 1

“You need three estimates”.

Truth rating: FALSE.

Your insurers appointed engineer can discuss costs with your designated garage.

Myth 2

“The repairs at your chosen garage won’t be guaranteed.”

Truth rating: FALSE.

All independent garages will provide a guarantee.

Myth 3

“You won’t get a courtesy car at the garage you choose.”

Truth rating: FALSE.

Many garages can provide a replacement vehicle and, if the accident is not your fault, can arrange for you to be provided with a like-for-like vehicle from expert companies such as CRASH Services, at no extra cost to you.

Myth 4

“Repairs will take longer at your choice of repairer.”

Truth rating: FALSE.

There is no reason – or evidence – why repairs should take any longer just because you choose a repairer.

Myth 5

“Your policy excess will be higher if you choose your garage.”

Truth rating: FALSE.

Some insurers try to impose a higher policy excess if you choose your repairer.

This is an unfair practice and one that can be challenged.

If you are not-at-fault in an accident, you can use the services of an accident management company such as CRASH and you will not have any excess to pay.

The take-home message

Insurance companies aren’t worried about you; their main goal is to save money on claims and make a profit for the shareholders.

If you need to make an insurance claim, remember, independent repairers will be able to guide you through the process and ensure your vehicle is repaired correctly.

To find your nearest independent accident repair centre, please visit or call 028 9066 02 44.

Blog written by NIBA. NIBA is a collective of independent repairers operating in the car and light commercial vehicle market in Northern Ireland.


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