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Fortis adjusts network

Bodyshops have reacted with caution to the announcement by Fortis Insurance that it is using competitive tendering to create a network of new Solution Centres.

Fortis wants a new type of repairer who will simplify procedures, cut costs and sell other products provided by the group.

Robert Hadfield of Auto Body Projects is sceptical. “Fortis is asking repairers to tender without giving the necessary parameters,” he says.

Privately, bodyshop bosses in the existing network are also suspicious. “We’re being led into a trap by Fortis,” says one. “They want us to tell them the terms we want, then they’ll offer less to the repairers they have already decided to offer contracts to.”

Another adds: “This is a crafty way of culling the network, which Fortis says it wants to reduce from 100 to 70.”

Fortis, which sells insurance through brokers, specializes in premiums for less-affluent car owners. It is thought to want to encourage more repairs, and fit fewer replacement parts, to save money.

Formed in 1990, and Benelux-based, Fortis wants to cut through procedures which it believes damages the insurer/repairer relationship.

“We are looking for suppliers we can trust to get on with the job and dispense with many of the cumbersome, expensive controls used in the past,” says Rob Smale, Fortis UK claims director.

“Our aim is to reduce the cost and administrative burden sometimes imposed on our suppliers and transform relationships, to deliver extraordinary customer service at a competitive cost.” Fortis wants expert repairers who show they are willing to innovate, change and develop new services, says Smale.

Staff at the new centres will be encouraged to sell additional “relevant” products and services to policyholders after an accident, and will be expected to stay in regular contact.

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