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Fortis happy to have conversations with body repairers

Bodyshops should be more demanding of their work provider partners when it comes to contract negotiations, according to a leading insurance claims director.

Rob Smale claims Fortis is happy to have contract conversations with body repairers that include notice of termination and guaranteed volumes of work.

In fact, he is keen to start signing five-year binding contracts with his 130-strong network of national solution centres (NSC).

Talking to AM at the 2008 Bodyshop Magazine Conference, Smale said: “It’s up to the industry to tell us what it wants. Can a contract guarantee volumes? Yes, it can.”

Fortis insures 1.6 million private cars, making it the third largest behind Aviva and Royal Bank of Scotland and adding strength to Smale’s claims about guaranteed work volumes. It also insures 60,000 commercial vehicles.However, despite proposing five-year contracts to 1,500 bodyshops while setting up the NSC network in 2006, not one repairer was willing to take up the offer. 

Smale told conference delegates: “You all have service level agreements, not contracts, and it’s an uneven partnership – we’ve got the money and you want the money. But you can’t go to the bank manager and get money on the strength of the agreements you have now.

“You have to ask for real contracts – grow up and get an alliance. I would love to sign a five-year contract.”

He said much of the problem was down to a lack of trust, but believes the tide is turning. “Now, around 30 of our 130 NSCs get it, and we are having very different conversations with them.”

Terms and conditions contravened

Allianz motor claims manager Phil Brailey claims that most bodyshops contravene the terms and conditions of their work provider contracts.

“They sign up but the majority don’t do what they say they are going to do,” he said. “Why? They haven’t read any of the print, let alone the small print.”

He cited as proof the fact that bodyshops regularly send back the whole contract to Allianz instead of simply signing the top sheet and returning that as requested.

How could they keep to the terms of the contract if they no longer have it in the bodyshop, he asked.

Brailey added: “How often has Allianz breached its contract? Never. How often have bodyshops breached theirs? Too many to go into.”

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