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Approved garages

Damage to your car, whether it’s cosmetic or mechanical, is going to cost money to repair. When you make a claim, most insurance providers offer to get the damage fixed using one of their approved garages. But what if you want to choose your own repairer?

Here’s what to consider when choosing a repairer for a car insurance claim.

Damage to your car, whether it’s cosmetic or mechanical, is going to cost money to repair. When you make a claim, most insurance providers offer to get the damage fixed using one of their approved garages. But what if you want to choose your own repairer?

Here’s what to consider when choosing a repairer for a car insurance claim.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
29 JUNE 2023
7 min read
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What are the options around repairs when you make an insurance claim?

If your car needs repair after a claim, you'll have to find a garage to carry out the work. Some insurance providers prefer you to use one of their approved repairers and could impose certain limits and conditions if you don’t.

For example, some providers will only make a courtesy car available if you use a repairer approved by them. They might also make you pay a sum on top of your agreed excess or refuse to guarantee the work.

On the other hand, you may prefer to use a garage of your own choice – for a variety of reasons. And you are free to do so, but it may have some implications for your claim. So let's have a look at these options in more detail and their pros and cons.

What are approved repairers?

An approved repairer is contracted and approved by your insurance provider to carry out repairs on cars they insure in the event of a claim.

Insurance providers usually prefer it if you use a repairer approved by them. Part of the reason is that they can often negotiate preferential rates because of the volume of business they introduce.

But it's also because they can set standards around the quality of repairs. The garages used are typically inspected or audited at regular intervals to check how well the repair work is carried out. This helps ensure safety and quality. The insurance providers may do this themselves or use independent expert inspectors.

Some large insurance providers may even own repair centres or networks – in a bid to make sure that customers get a joined-up, smooth experience in resolving their claim.

How to find an approved garage near you

Your claim handler should be able to help you find an approved garage near you. This could be done with:

  • A list of approved garages
  • An online tool with a postcode-based search
  • A help centre where they will tell you about your local options.

Your claims handler should tell you what you need to know about getting your car booked in with an approved repairer. Your insurance company may organise this if you choose to opt for an approved repairer.

If there is an excess to pay, you need to pay this to the garage once repairs are completed.

What are the pros and cons of using an approved garage?

Using an insurance provider's approved garage can have advantages when it comes to getting your car fixed.

Advantages

  • The insurance provider should have set quality standards for repairs.
  • The repair should be guaranteed for a set period.
  • Courtesy cars will be included if you have opted for this type of cover.
  • Your car may be collected and delivered back with some approved repairers
  • It could be faster and less hassle as  you won't necessarily need to get quotes for approval.

Disadvantages

  • Depending on where you live, or if you have a particular model, the repairer may not necessarily be as close as you might like.

A repairer of your choice

You might decide to go with a repairer of your own choosing. It might be that they offer a high-quality service you’re happy with, or it could be that their location is easier to reach.

The right to choose your own repairer

Not only are you free to choose your own repairer, it’s your legal right to do so.

The Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations give car owners the right to freely choose any repairer or body shop to repair their vehicle. Under your UK car insurance repair rights, you’re not obliged to go with an approved repairer chosen by your insurance provider if you don’t want to.

Pros and cons of choosing your own garage for insurance repairs

There are some advantages and disadvantages to choosing your own repairer.

Advantages

  • You get to choose who fixes your car
  • Your choice of repairer might be more local to you
  • An approved repairer might not be a specialist for your particular vehicle
  • An approved repairer might not fit original parts – check your policy to see what it says about this.

Disadvantages

  • Many comprehensive car insurance policies include a courtesy car – but typically that’s only if you use an approved repairer.
  • Your insurance provider won’t usually guarantee repairs unless they’ve been done by one of their approved repairers. And if further damage is done to your car, or further damage is detected while it’s being repaired, you might not be covered.
  • Your insurance provider might charge an additional sum on top of your car insurance excess if you choose your own repairer.
  • Your provider might want to authorise and inspect the repairs at the repairer, which could delay you getting your car back.
  • Your insurance provider might not agree to pay the full cost of the repairs if they believe it would have been cheaper to use an approved repairer.

If you do decide to choose your own repairer, you’ll need to get a written estimate of the repair costs and send it to your insurance provider. The estimate must be approved by your insurance provider in order for you to claim and for work to begin.

Regardless of whether you use an approved repairer or one you've chosen, read your policy documents carefully. This will help you make sure you understand exactly what terms and conditions apply to repairs.

What happens once your claim’s approved?

Once you’ve had an accident and contacted your insurance company, they’ll most likely ask you to pay an excess, regardless of whose fault the accident was. This excess can be refunded to you if they deem you were not at fault.

  • If your insurance provider decides that the accident wasn’t your fault, you might not have to pay the excess on your policy. Instead, this may be covered by the other driver’s insurance policy.
  • If the accident is deemed your fault, you’ll need to pay the excess yourself.

Either way, a claim is also likely to make your future premiums more expensive. Even if you were not at fault, a provider may consider there to be a greater risk of reoccurrence and increase your premium to reflect this.

Once the repair costs have been estimated and approved by your insurance provider, you can then have the repair work carried out. Make sure you hold on to any invoices or documents from the repairer. You may need them later.

How long it takes for the claim to be approved and paid out depends on various factors. How quickly you register the claim, provide supporting evidence and agree on a repairer all play a part. After all this, the claim is then paid, completed and closed.

What happens if you’re unhappy with repairs carried out by an approved garage?

If you’re not satisfied with the insurance repairs done by an approved repairer, or the way your insurance provider dealt with your claim, you can make an official complaint.

Keep a note of all calls and conversations and keep copies of emails and letters with your insurance provider and repairer.

If you're still not satisfied with the final result of the complaint, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to resolve the issue.

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