There are few moments in life as stressful as a traffic collision. Even at low speeds, a car accident can result in significant stress, especially with children in the back seat.
Immediately after the collision, your priorities will likely be to move your car off the road and into safety, before reassuring the kids as the whole experience can be quite confronting for them.
Next, you'll inspect the damage, swap details with any other drivers involved, and possibly call roadside assist to discuss getting the vehicle home safely.
However, it's when drivers get home that they often make a potential mistake. They call their car insurance provider first, to discuss vehicle repairs. This is not always the best move. Here's why:
'Insurer preferred repairers' and safety concerns
Insurer preferred repairers are selected motor vehicle repairers, which insurance providers partner with to repair customer vehicles.
In theory, insurance providers use preferred repairers in order to ensure that smash repairs are carried out to certain standards of quality, timeliness and cost. In practice, though, those standards may not always be met.
In 2014, ABC's 7.30 NSW claimed to have found significant concerns regarding repairers linked to Australia's major insurers. In a special investigation, the program claimed that it had found evidence of repairs allegedly authorised by insurance companies to be inadequate and in some instances dangerous.
In fact, the NSW government introduced reforms that same year, which aimed to crackdown on dodgy repairers and potentially "unethical" behaviour exhibited by insurers.
While there is no doubt that many insurer preferred repairers do indeed do the right thing, these concerns and others highlighted in the media, have shaken many people's confidence in their insurer's preferred repairer.
Choice of repairer. Know your rights.
Does your car insurance policy include 'choice of repairer'? If it does, then it is your right to choose who works on your car after an accident or low-speed collision.
As a mother, you'll know that the safety of your family is paramount, and as such you may have a regular mechanic or repairer, someone you trust with the safety of your vehicle.
Your insurance provider may encourage you to choose a preferred repairer, they might even attempt to convince you of the benefits. That said, you do not have to accept their recommendation.
It can be intimidating, particularly if this is your first time making an insurance claim. But, remember, you don't have to back down. If you have a repairer, which you trust more, it's your right to choose them.
What to look for in a smash repairer
Not all smash repairers are equal. Depending on your choice, the service you get may vary in terms of price and features. And, sometimes it's what isn't included that can end up costing you the most.
Take hire cars for example. Life doesn't stop for car repairs, the kids still have to get to school, errands still have to be run, and you still need to get to work. Therefore, with your car in the shop, you'll likely need a vehicle to get around in, in the meantime.
By choosing a panel beater that offers a free hire car, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars by not having to pay for a car from a vehicle rental company.
When choosing a smash repairer, take all expenses into consideration and look at the overall cost. An initially cheaper price could end up costing you more in the long run.
Genuine parts and guarantee
Let's face it. Arranging car repairs is a pain. Mums already have a thousand and one responsibilities and getting the car repaired is another task that most of us could live without. So, the last thing you want is to have to take your car back to the repairer because of poor quality components.
An easy way to protect yourself is by insisting on genuine parts. Genuine approved parts are made to exact manufacturer standards. They're designed for the best possible fit and finish, and will typically be backed by your vehicle manufacturer's guarantee, which will give you extra peace of mind.
After a smash, it might be tempting to call your insurer and simply 'let them sort it out'. It may seem like the fastest, easiest and most reliable solution. However, this isn't always true.
It often pays to call your panel beater or smash repairer first. They could help you to get higher quality workmanship, faster repairs, or even a cheaper overall price.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Sheen Group has been repairing Australia's vehicles for more than 45 years. Their smash repairers specialise in prompt and top quality repairs. To get your car back on the road, call the expert team at Sheen today.