Siding with Channel Seven's 'Today Tonight' program (which aired last night), the VACC says that some insurance companies were increasingly diverting motorists away from the repairer they choose to the insurance company’s preferred repairer and were quoting from photographs instead of personally inspecting damaged vehicles.
The VACC also found that some insurers pressured their preferred repairers to cut corners and skimp on the use of genuine parts meaning, in some instances, that substandard repairs were made to fully insured vehicles.
It was also alleged that some insurance companies offered cash settlements to motorists that do not cover the full cost of repairs or write-off value.
“We have had a gutful of the treatment dished out to repairers and motorists by the insurers,” VACC Executive Director, Mr David Purchase, said.“Increasingly, insurance companies are directing motorists towards their preferred repairer network. Their actions deny motorists’ control and freedom of choice.“Insurers are unfairly, unreasonably, and increasingly arbitrarily, reducing quotes so low that the repairer cannot repair the vehicle properly. As a consequence, we have poorly repaired, devalued and, potentially, unsafe vehicles out on the roads.“It is not as if insurance companies need to screw us to the floor boards in order to survive. They are making enormous profits. They are supposed to be providing a service, but once a customer signs the policy papers, the insurance company controls the process. We want Government to bring the insurance companies back into line.“Insurers are good at asking consumers’ questions and insisting on truthful answers. We should expect honesty from them in return. It is not good enough to have a clause buried in the small print of the ‘product disclosure statement’ about choice of repairer. It needs to be clearly identified and open for discussion from the outset.“VACC calls on the State Government to pass legislation that requires a consumer is told about the choice of repairer provisions being offered in a comprehensive car insurance policy.“And VACC recommends all motorists ask their insurance company the following question, ‘can I choose the repairer I want?’.”