The move, which effectively creates a two-tier bodyshop structure, sees Nationwide Accident Repair Services and Gemini committing to five-year contracts to set up a guaranteed number of bodyshops which will exclusively repair R&SA-insured cars.
Each has signed up to R&SA’s contentious Cost Plus model, where labour rates are agreed with each individual repairer business reflecting their investment and operating costs. The scheme has previously been on trial with other independent bodyshops, including Howard Basford, which decided not to sign up to the final DRC contract.
Nationwide says seven of its 61 sites will become dedicated RSA centres in the initial wave from January, although it declines at this stage to name which centres have been selected. More sites will be adding next year, some through acquisition, others from within the existing network. Gemini has committed one of its nine sites so far.
R&SA has already started terminating some of its 320 approved bodyshops. The network is expected to eventually shrink to 230-240 sites once the full programme of 20-22 DRCs has been established.
“The DRCs represent an existing development within our repairer network strategy, securing capacity for the long term and delivering an environment dedicated to R&SA customers,” says David Neave, R&SA claims services director.
Nationwide and Gemini were chosen following robust selection criteria based on performance, track record and ability to handle large repair volumes. “It is testament to our new approach that players of their quality and size have come on board,” Neave adds.