By Gerry Murphy
ONE of Ireland’s leading vehicle insurance companies, Aviva Insurance, is understood to have reached an agreement with an accident repair centre chain regarding the provision of recommended repairers for Aviva insured drivers, which could have an impact on other accident repair centres, and the people employed there.
In June of this year, bodyshops that had been Aviva approved repairers received a letter giving notice of the termination of existing repair agreements. This effectively served time on many long and successful relationships that existed between Aviva and many of its approved independent repairers around the country.
Accident Repair Management Ltd, the newly approved chain has 38 affiliated bodyshops around Ireland, with two outlets in Galway, meaning customers of Aviva in Galway will now have just two choices when having their cars repaired within the county – ACE Autobody Galway in Oranmore, and Masonbrook Motors in Loughrea.
This unprecedented move has independent bodyshop operators up in arms around the country. Bodyshops owners say they could lose up to 30% of their business when Aviva pull out of agreements. Now these bodyshop owners fear that this may be a trend that filters through to other insurance companies.
Business leaders say that the bodyshops which had been on the referral list, some for up to 20 years, have served Aviva customers loyally for this time and they were not given the opportunity to negotiate on price or services, just given three months notice of contract terminations.
With the rocketing cost of motor insurance being such a hot topic at the moment, the fear is that following this news from Aviva, it could become a trend with other Insurance companies following suit.
Industry chiefs say that it restricts the choice for customers to decide where they have their car repaired and that just using one group of crash repair businesses could lead into a monopoly situation and that possible increases in the cost of accident repairs could be the result for the already beleaguered motorist.