Insurers and CMCs ‘do not monitor the quality of repairs effectively’

The Competition Commission (CC) has recommended compulsory audits of vehicle repairs because insurers and claims management companies (CMCs) ‘do not monitor the quality of repairs effectively’, in its initial findings published today.

The report added that “there are significant limitations to consumers’ ability to assess the quality of repairs”.

The watchdog expressed concern that present audits focus on the cost of the repairs and checking that invoices reconcile with the work undertaken, rather than on the quality of repairs.

In response to this it has recommended compulsory audits of vehicle repairs to improve the quality of at-fault and non-fault repairs.

However, the report stressed that minimising additional costs would need to be taken into consideration.

It said: “We would need to consider how to minimise the additional costs that audit requirements could impose on repairers and insurers. We are not minded to require that each repair should be audited, rather that there should be periodic audits of repairers which assess the quality of repairs.”

The commission is also considering a mechanism for the audit results to be published, and if this would incentivise repairers, insurers and CMCs to ensure that repairs are undertaken to the appropriate standard.

The published results could either rank insurance companies and CMCs or give ratings according to their repair quality records.

The mechanism could act in conjunction with compulsory quality audits or in order to incentivise quality audits.

The report added: “These repair quality ratings could be required to be made available to consumers when choosing a repairer following an accident. We would expect that price comparison websites would also wish to use the information when assisting consumers in comparing insurers.”

The commission said it would not consider giving consumers the right to have their repairs assessed by independent experts at no cost if there is a problem with the repair.

It said this approach is “likely to be ineffective” because consumers could request assessment by independent experts on a random basis, which might create “considerable costs”.

The industry has until 17 January to respond to the recommendations.