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'Name and shame' threat to Zurich FS

Zurich Financial Services' decision to axe 140 approved repairers one year into a three-year contract has sent shockwaves across the industry.

The Zurich approved network deal was announced by the MVRA last July and signed by 370 repairers. Approval was reliant on MVRA QA membership as well as costly investment in equipment such as the Motex estimating system.

Zurich network manager Charles Long insisted the cuts, which include larger repairers like Nationwide Crash Repair Centres, were made after “extensive market research”. He suggested bodyshops should shoulder some responsibility for making the investment without sufficiently assessing the marketplace.

“We realise this will have a major affect on some repairers and that is unfortunate, but bodyshops were fully aware of the rapid changes in the insurance market,” he said. “It was their commercial decision whether to invest in the required standards to join the network.”

The RMI had called for axed repairers to be paid compensation, in a move supported by the MVRA, but Mr Long said a 30-day termination clause had been written into the contract.

MVRA spokeswoman Marianne Rose said: “We are in a no-win situation here, but at the end of the day it is still some MVRA members who have the work. We would have liked input into who was cut and who was retained at least and do not agree with how they have gone about achieving their goal.”

Bob Hood, RMI Bodyshop Services director, threatened to “publicly name and shame” Zurich in the consumer and trade press if it refused to offer compensation. “Large insurance companies cannot expect their business partners to invest large sums of money to satisfy a three-year deal, only to be told they are no longer needed after a third of the contract term has elapsed,” he said.

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