Insurers are throwing millions of pounds down the drain because of in-accurate evaluations of write-off vehicles, according to accident repair management consultancy Norton Consulting.

Norton said insurers must consider training specialist staff, fast-tracking cases to deal with the issues involved, and possibly outsourcing solutions.

Managing director Eddie Longworth said: "Delegation of the valuing of vehicles to non-specialists is often the first sign that things will go wrong. Time pressures, inadequately trained staff, and a lack of the latest information can easily result in overpayment.

"This is particularly true in today's marketplace where second-hand prices are severely depressed and vehicles are sometimes very difficult to value."

Longworth also slammed customer service standards being provided by many accident repair companies, in particular citing problems with courtesy cars.

He added: "Throughout that period of repair, they would normally receive a courtesy car for the whole time.

"Knowing that bodyshops cannot be asked to fund the replacement vehicle for a total loss customer, the moral responsibility has simply been abandoned."