Insurers' attempts to cut car repair costs could increase the risk of accident injuries or fatalities, according to a new research study.

The study, carried out by automotive research company Trend Tracker, revealed that, as new cars become more complex, cost-saving insurance companies could be left liable if repaired cars are involved in any subsequent accidents.

Trend Tracker warned that insurance companies will increasingly need to employ specialist, manufacturer-approved bodyshops capable of repairing specific types of car or specific types of damage to avoid an increasing liability risk.

Trend Tracker director Robert Macnab said: "Motorists who choose a bodyshop themselves should ensure that it's competent for the job, and insurers could be in breach of their duty-of-care obligations if repaired cars are involved in subsequent accidents involving injuries or loss of life, particularly where an insurer has intervened and prescribed a cost-saving alternative repair method to that specified by the manufacturer."

A spokesman for Norwich Union, which insures one in seven motor vehicles, said: "The standard of service and the quality of work undertaken is a reflection on companies, such as Norwich Union.

"It is important that repairs are done to the highest standard guaranteed and that customers are assured that garages, operating under Norwich Union's approved network, are also of the highest possible standard."