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Calls for free choice

Bodyshops fear that a closed meeting of the UK’s major motor insurers held last week is the beginning of a strategy to reduce the price of paint used in car body repairs.

The meeting prompted industry lobby group BRIC to take a full page advertisement in Post, an insurance sector magazine, urging insurers to work closer with repairers. Paint charges are often a bodyshop’s most profitable part of a repair. The Association of British Insurers has already called paint margins into question.

BRIC director Shaun O’Reilly questions a practice adopted by some insurers to encourage their approved bodyshops to use particular paint brands. “All this does is increase the price of the products anyway,” he says.

O’Reilly claims some repairers are being “pushed” into using brands they have not chosen or face reduced repair rates. This causes higher costs for the repairer through additional training for the new paint technology, and the bodyshop may have to stock multiple brands.

“They want to be left alone to freely choose the paint brand that suits their business from within a free market,” he adds.

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