Dropped repair garage owners hit out at insurance giant Aviva
Car repair workers across Ireland have accused insurance group Aviva of "dismantling a gold standard in auto repair that has taken years to build".
Over the summer, Aviva insurance informed repair shops that the company would cease using their services within three months. Aviva told the Irish Independent that the move is ensure its repair service is centralised and efficient.
Documents seen by this newspaper show the company informed the repair providers it would be terminating their existing relationship within three months, but insisted the providers would continue to receive Aviva customers until the expiration of the contract.
Four separate repair providers spoke to the Irish Independent and claimed that Aviva's business was pulled within six weeks of the notice being served.
Many of the providers insist that the move will have the effect of making their businesses unviable.
One Cork based repair shop owner told the Irish Independent: "This wipes 30pc off my business straight away. I've been with Aviva for over 20 years. That 30pc is essentially the profit that I earn, so without it I really won't have a viable business."
The new firm taking over Aviva's repair operations is Accident Repair Management (ARM). The listed directors for ARM are Paul Plunkett and Robin Sutton. Mr Plunkett is a director of nine separate auto shops across the country, with premises in Wexford, Donegal, Limerick, Tipperary, Galway and Dublin. Mr Sutton is a director of three auto shops in Galway, Limerick and Dublin.
A number of repair shop owners said the decision to centralise Aviva's operations has the potential to decimate the industry. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to outstanding contractual arrangements with the insurer.
Concerns have also been raised that the move will narrow the options for consumers.
"The existing providers give a very personal service that is localised and these repair shops are well known in their areas and trusted by the local communities. Also, these shops have a lot experience in dealing with people who in many cases have been through a traumatic experience.
"That personal touch and trust now will no longer be available to those people because of Aviva's decision to change," said one repair shop owner based in the Midlands.
Aviva said in a statement "Aviva does not believe there will be negative implications for the auto-repairs industry in Ireland as we are still repairing the same volume of cars in the market."