• Panel One


Updated: Jan 21

Major insurers have been changing the terms and conditions of their policies without the express agreement or understanding of policy holders.

The NRMA is just one of the many who have done so, and it was only after a number of long standing clients had their claims denied that we discovered the fact. Commencing from Monday 6th November 2017, the NRMA changed their policy terms and conditions for all new and existing policies. So, if you have an NRMA policy and have not made a claim since that date, then you should check the fine print of your policy immediately.

We're not talking about a minor variation here, but something that fundamentally changed the very principles on which the original insurance agreement was made. Gone is the freedom to choose your repairer; replaced by what the NRMA and others call 'Partner Repairers'.

Of all the democratic freedoms and consumer rights, ‘freedom of choice’ was perhaps the most hardest fought and when it comes to car insurance, freedom to choose your own repairer has been a long-standing and well established principle. So much so, that consumers no longer ask if it’s included, but expect it to be. It's a condition that serves to benefit the policy holder without detriment to the insurer. But what was a standard condition is now only available if you agree to pay more.

A quick survey of clients revealed that although the insured value of their vehicle reduced and their no-claim bonus improved – they no longer qualified for 'freedom of choice' and yet their premiums had increased.

So why all the fuss?

Well, by forgoing ‘choice of repairer’, when you make a claim, regardless of who is at fault, you will be forced to use your insurer's nominated repairer and only their nominated repairer. It is important to understand a repairer nominated by an insurance company is not superior to any other. If so, then it's likely that every BMW Accredited Bodyshop would appear on this list – but they don’t. In fact, you are unlikely to find any BMW Accredited Bodyshops on this list at all. So, that means you will be unable to have your BMW repaired by someone fully trained and qualified to do so.

In truth, these Partner Repairers have simply agreed to a set of requirements laid down by the insurer. These requirements are quantitative not qualitative with the aim of reducing the costs of repairs charged to the insurer regardless of the premium you have paid. As with Panel One, agreeing to these conditions may not be in the best interests of every repairer or their clients.

So, if you hope to have your car fixed by an expert in BMW smash repairs, don't wait until after you have an accident to check the fine print of your car insurance policy. Check it today - before it's too late.

Produced by A Current Affair (Copyright 2018)

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