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Insurance breakdown, assistance and repairs 

Recently we have received a lot of questions regarding insurance companies and repairs. We are going to endeavour to cover some of the most common questions:

When I breakdown do I get to choose the garage where my car gets taken to?

Yes, you do. All insurance companies that offer the service of “asistencia en carretera”, road side assistance allow you to select the garage where the car is taken to. The operator at the time may ask you to which garage you want the car taken or they may just ask you the area of the garage and then you inform the recovery company of the car’s final destination. We have been told, increasingly sadly, that a lot of recovery companies, once they have arrived at the breakdown are telling customers that the company has said no we have to take it to x repairer (usually their own repairer garage), this is not true. The companies usually either RACE or ARAG can help in selecting a repairer if you are not familiar with one however the ultimate choice is yours and the car can go to YOUR mechanic.

If I have a battery failure do I have to purchase the battery from the recovery company?

As above if your insurer offers the road side assistance service then normally they also offer a jump start service from home. The normal practice is to send out a van with jump starter or jump leads and for them to jump start your car. They then usually offer for a fee to fit you a new battery. This is not compulsory you don’t have to purchase their battery you can ask them jump start your car and then go and collect your own battery from your mechanic or parts supplier.

When I have an accident do I have to go to my insurance companies approved repairer?

In most cases no. However, some companies, for a reduced premium do not allow you a freedom of choice however most of the bigger companies, such as Linea Directa, AXA, Zurich, Liberty, Plus Ultra, Mapfre, etc. allow you to select your own repairer. This is obviously better as you are then free to select someone you trust or have used in the past. However some, not all though, agents do try to force/coerce the customer to use the approved repairs as it is cheaper for the company as approved repairers are forced to offer cheaper prices so sometimes it means that corners are cut during the repair. As mentioned above dependent on your insurer you can take your car to the garage of your choice for the repair. This is something to check when taking out insurance with a new company.

Do I have to use the approved glass repairer?

Again, as above in most cases no however as already stated above, some companies offer the option of a reduced premium, if in the event of a break or crack you are happy to use one of their authorized repairers. If, however you wish to use your own choice of repairer then that option is available to you so long as your policy allows, again this is something to ask when changing companies. However, that being said most of the larger glass companies now come and change the glass on site which in most cases suits the client more than having to leave the car at a designated garage.

If I have an accident and I don’t use the insurance companies approved repairer am I still entitled to a hire car if my policy covers it?

This again is dependent on the insurer but with the larger companies the courtesy car is a facility offered in the event of an accident regardless of where the vehicle is being repaired. To date I haven’t heard of a company that forces you to use their repairer in order to have access to the courtesy car.

The best advice we can give is to ask the questions when either getting your first quote or by asking your agent what options and/or restrictions are applied to the policy that you are considering. Remember that cheapest is not always best and in these cases, you often do not find this out until something happens! As Martin Lewis would say READ THE SMALL PRINT.