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Fortis drops long time partners

Fortis Insurance has left a number of its bodyshop partners bewildered after they failed to win new direct referral programme contracts through its recent tender process.

Several bodyshops that had been Fortis repairers for more than a decade have been rejected, including AM50-ranked Howard Basford, Deejay Accident Repair Centres and SJ Curtis.

Almost 700 bodyshops took part in the tender process. AM understands that at least 20 of Fortis’s 49 existing partners have been dropped. Major new appointments to the network of Fortis Solutions Centres include Just Car Clinics, most of the Fix Auto franchised network, and some franchised bodyshops owned by Pendragon.

Those rejected received a letter stating simply that their tenders were unsuccessful. Yet some are still receiving work, which they are now charging at higher labour rates with no discounts on parts or paint.

Fortis says it is arranging a “tailored exit strategy” for these businesses. Other repairers immediately stopped taking jobs, causing delays for policyholders awaiting repairs.

Deejay managing director Dave Shepherd says he is continuing to take work while waiting for notice of termination. His four bodyshops take 950 Fortis jobs a year, around 18% of the group’s total business, but Shepherd is confident the loss will be made up elsewhere.

“It’s difficult to know what the criteria for selection was. In our tender we tried to reflect all the things we had heard at the Fortis roadshows, about customer care, Fortis branding and retention of customers. We had a rewarding structure for exceptional business. We have a proven track record with Fortis for handling volume, but we still didn’t get it,” he says.

However, he adds: “We’ve been very fortunate that our volumes with other insurers have been growing and we’ve been under pressure to handle the volumes we’ve got. Although we don’t like to lose any work, we can reconfigure our contracts with them.”

Successful applicants have only received provisional approval so far – Fortis is still finalizing their contracts, with roll-out to begin in late spring. It has advised body repairers that it reserves the right to withdraw approval should they stray from their tender.

In a statement Fortis says: “The successful applicants demonstrated a willingness to innovate, change and develop new services to benefit all parties. We believe our approach offers a positive contribution to our standing in the industry.”

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