Car repairs and insurance company

I recently damaged my car and claimed under my comprehensive insurance policy. I was directed to a particular crash repairer for assessment. I was amazed to find that I was expected to wait 5 months for a booking to repair the car. (the repair is minor)
Surely, as a consumer, ie purchasing expensive comprehensive car insurance, I could expect the service to be provided in a timely manner?
I contacted the insurer, who managed to have the wait time reduced - now I only have to wait three months! Is there anything in insurance law that requires repairs to be done within a specified time frame?

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Welcome to the Community @LibraryLady

Wait times were commonly 2-3 months (metro Melbourne) even a decade ago and most everything has blown out since COVID because of pent up demand, a shortage of workers, shortages of parts, and supply chains that have yet to recover.

Since your prang is stated as ‘minor’ it is probably not a priority as compared to other claims where the vehicles are not drivable/roadworthy.

So the short answer is ‘not that I can find’. As a practical matter some repair shops might have a 5 months wait and another servicing the same insurer a bit further away may only have 2 so ‘shopping around’ by telling your insurer you want the quickest repair not the most convenient can help expedite things, noting all repair shops do not do the same quality of work even when the insurer guarantees a repair so there might be another reason some have longer or shorter waiting lists.

If a repair time was codified and it was in a practical sense impossible to achieve in general, or for a specific repair on a specific car, would that be helpful excepting forcing the insurers to be clear about what service they could provide?


Cheaper insurance products often state in the PDS that repairs will be conducted at a repairer that is part of the insurers network, unless you pay for choice of repairer. This allows the insurer to offer a lower premium as they can use a repairer who accepts a lower price in exchange for constant business. The repairer is likely to have cost saving measures such as ordering parts from the cheapest supplier, even if they take a long time to ship.

Now, this repairer is not necessarily owned by the insurer, as such they can’t control how long the wait is. So complaining to the insurance company is unlikely to get you anywhere. After all, you’ve been getting the benefits of a lower premium specifically because you took a policy with no choice of repairer.

Your choices are as follows:

  1. Negotiate with the insurer to see if they have another approved repairer with a shorter queue you could travel to.

  2. See if your PDS allows a cash settlement. Any payout will be far less than what it actually costs you to repair the car (as you don’t have insurer buying power) but depending on your situation this may be an acceptable price of convenience.

  3. Repair the damage at your own cost and don’t claim. This may be good value if the damage is minor, and claiming would cause a loss of ‘No Claims Bonus’.

  4. Cut your losses, cop the three months and learn for future.

As someone who used to work in insurance, personally I would never take a policy without choice of repairer. Any saving on my premium costs me just as much in inconvenience when I claim.


Depends. Having been in both ‘camps’ I have not had much different of an experience overall, either way. Choosing my own repairer puts the onus on me to find one, qualify them and their work, get quotes and finally schedule in. If anything happens during the process or repair I have the negotiating power of ‘1’.

When there is a network of repairers ‘beholden’ to a company for their income that is not always true, although you as an x-insider have a different vantage point than one who has had very infrequent experiences.

Getting ‘speed of service’ from a non-choice insurer’s process could be intractable but for everything else the insurers have ‘market power’ to negotiate on their customer’s behalf. I had a repair w/o choice of repairer; when the shop said ‘all done no problems’ it was not satisfactory. I got nowhere but the insurance company made sure it got taken care of. How it would have gone otherwise I’ll never know. While one gives up control, one can gain in avoiding stress.


Thanks Peter and Phil - your responses gave me plenty to think about, and raised issues I hadn’t considered. Good to have the benefit of your experience!