Car bodywork repairs

Our car parked on the street has acquired a dent on the bonnet in the last day or so close to the windscreen which has made the screenwash jet assembly fall out as the retaining hole is buckled. More obvious from inside the vehicle. There’s a subtle dent on the same side on the roof too. Suspect someone has jumped on it given the positions and absence of any other obvious cause.

Typically it’s a lease car which has been kept in excellent condition.

Am I correct with car insurance that you don’t have to use their preferred bodyshop, as I think I’d prefer to get it looked at by an authorised body repair shop?

Not sure where you are in the world but normally the insurance company may want there own people to estimate the cost of repair but you are free to take it anywhere you like but they most likely won’t pay beyond what their guy has the value at unless there is a reason or hidden damage

I’m in UK, I was just wondering if others have had experience choosing their own repairer rather than the one an insurer would want to use - I would really want to use a manufacturer approved facility as when the vehicle is returned we’d be responsible for any repairs, so yoiu’d want them done properly.

Some Insurers in the UK apply a higher excess if you don’t use their approved repairers.


I’ve seen a site suggesting it may be illegal for them to do so, though would have to check the policy to see if there’s a clause buried away somewhere to that effect.

It’s just really annoying damage that’s likely to be a real faff to sort out, assuming it can be.

Insurance companies like to use their “own approved” repair shops because they can then control the costs.

That’s fair enough. What is not so so good is when the 3rd party’s company (the 3rd party having caused, and admitted to the damage) start sending the “threatening” (but ultimately very vaguely worded) letters along the lines “If you don’t use OUR repair shop, we could take you to court!”.

Not acceptable!

Naturally we forwarded the letter to our company…and that was the last we heard if it!

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I think regulators might be interested in such a practice. I doubt that they would be very amused.

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The letter was very carefully worded to inspire panic, while in reality, saying nothing. We laughed at it, but we wonder what our lovely 80+ year old neighbour would have made of it!**

A well known UK company named after Viking/Norse “stories”.

(**Actually, knowing our neighbour K, it would have been burned ceremoniously :grin:, but with a copy sent to her insurers!)

Edit: The circumstances were that the TT was pranged in the rear. I was stationary & the guy just misjudged it. No dents to the bodywork but he hit the rear passenger side wheel and broke the trailing arm. Did the usual exchange and our insurance co arranged pick up, replacement car etc.

(amusing aside: our TT is a 4WD, so I managed to drive it home. I felt it was a bit twitchy so I drove very slowly! It was only two days later when I was looking at it in the garage that I noticed that the trailing arm was actually broken - a “brown underpants” moments if ever there was one!)

Couple days later I got a call from the other party’s company, very polite, chatty, offering to take care of it all for us. I explained that my company had it all in hand. No problem.

Two days later I got the threatening letter “As you have refused our assistance…”, “you have not mitigated your costs”…“UK courts have looked unfavourably at these situations…”, etc etc

Our response was “Fcuk yoo”, but slightly more politely. Needless to say we heard nothing more!


Every insurance is different. The specific details are in your policy and not relevant to anyone else’s policy.

Have a google of local mobile dent removal firms. If it’s not to big they may be able to sort it for less then your excess

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When i worked at Ford there was an Indian guy called Singh the Ding……….he was amazing. What he could do with dents on bodywork was well, unbelievable. Wish we had mobile phones back then to take a video.


There was a guy who worked at a car repair place near here who was known as “Ray the spray”. He also worked miracles.

But the premises he worked from have been bought by another company which charges prices adjacent to the ones quoted by our main dealer.


Father had a chap out to sort a mark on the bumper on his Toyota many years ago - Dave the Dent and he was brilliant.


Yes, I think you are correct - I’ve done the same thing a couple of times, no problem - except usually there is a catch in the policy such as no courtesy car unless you use our bodyshop or similar. Have a look at the Honest John website and search Insurers Bodyshop - quotes such as " "Or the insurer may try to add an additional excess should you wish to have your car repaired at your own choice of repairer. You can have your car repaired wherever you wish, but insurers try to restrict this.

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It was a random search which threw up a repairer’s website - it suggested that using an insurer’s preferred body shop would potentially lead you to making a choice you would not ordinarily want, and a few links were posted about unfaor contractural clauses, but one of those is dead.

Bear in mind that some insurance companies actually own and operate there own Bodyshops they can also recommend other Bodyshops that they have an agreed discount structure and loan vehicles with etc.

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Courtesy cars are another trick. We had one while the TT was in dock. There was a clause in the loan contract that stated that if the car was returned in an “unclean condition”, there would be a charge of £150.

On the day of collection my wife spend two hours plus cleaning the car outside and inside. It was spotless, acknowledged as such by the guy collecting the car. She then went to her office to pay some bills. The car could not have gone than than the corner before the “cleaning charge” came up on the credit card. The excuse was that the driver had found a dog hair…yup just the one. It was pointed out with some force that we did not, nor have ever had, a dog! The charge was refunded.

I can only suppose that they tried this one every time, and probably got away with it most of the time.


Re courtesy cars, I had a highly salutary experience some years ago. A young driver drove into the back of my BMW at speed and it was badly damaged, but repairable. I was clearly not at fault as I was in a small stationary queue of cars behind a police car which had stopped the traffic and was on the scene as the accident happened.

My BMW dealer arranged for a replacement loan car to be provided by a company that specialised in that service and they charged the cost back to the other driver’s insurance company. The car they loaned me was very similar to mine, so truly like for like.

However this company charged very high daily rates and my car was off the road for 3 months. After a few weeks the other insurance company declined to pay the loan charges and so my loan car company took them to court. Or to be more precise, they did all the work and paid for it, but formally I was suing the driver that hit my car and the amount in dispute was ultimately about £25000 plus legal costs.

The thing dragged on for two years, with drafting of witness statements in both directions and the loan car company and the other guy’s insurance company settled out of court the day before the case was due to be heard in Crown Court.

This was highly stressful for me and my wife and we vowed never to get into that position again! The loan car company is still in business I see….

Sounds rotten. Did you insurer not offer a car while yours was being fixed, or was it a ‘basic model’ they’d have given you?