Financial Ombudsman ruling against Insurance company use of non-OEM replacement windscreens

Earthling42
Earthling42 Posts: 21
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edited 28 January at 2:20PM in Insurance & life assurance
When my windscreen was hit by a stone and needed replacing, the Insurance company insisted on using third-party glass and fitters.  Volvo states that non-OEM glass will potentially compromise the function of about 20 safety systems and warranty claims because of non-OEM glass replacement will be invalidated.  My reaction to the insistence on third party suppliers is that it represents unfair contract terms.  Despite the small print that no-one reads, my understanding was that my car insurance policy contract should put me in the same position as I was prior to the damage and not compromise my or passengers' safety or invalidate parts of the manufacturer's warranty. 

The insurance company has now agreed to pay my claim for an OEM replacement windscreen.   You do not have accept their high-handed dismissive response on safety concerns and they can be challenged successfully via the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Recommendations for making a claim
1. Check with the car manufacturer/dealer for their view on the safety of third-party glass & fitters.  Ask them to supply any supporting documentation or publications.

2. Ask the car manufacturer/dealer if the fitting of non-OEM glass will invalidate any part of the vehicle warranty.

3. Tell your insurance company that you want an OEM replacement windscreen fitted by a manufacturer approved fitter.  The reasons are:
a. 3rd party glass has not been tested in the same way as OEM glass and therefore cannot be proven to be as safe or to allow the car’s safety systems to operate as designed. 
b. The use of 3rd party glass will invalidate the warranty.
c. Your insurance company will no doubt point you in the direction of small print in the insurance document that forces you to use their ‘approved supplier’ and any replacement glass that they want to supply.  I would maintain that using components and unapproved fitters represents unfair contract terms and contradicts the expectation of an insurance policy to restore the insured to the position they were in before the claim; especially where the insurer’s preferred resolution of a claim reduces the car's safety features and invalidates the car manufacturer’s warranty.  

4. If the insurance company rejects your argument, then raise an official complaint so that they are forced to issue a final refusal letter.

5. Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service at https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/ or call their helpline at 0800 023 4567.  

6. I would suggest referencing this ruling on the use of third-party glass.  It is very likely that similar complaints against other car insurance companies will have a similar outcome.

Comments

  • mills705
    mills705 Posts: 127
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    The ombudsman in this decision from last year said that the terms of the policy were clear and that Non OEM glass could be used: 
    Decision Reference DRN-4448825 (financial-ombudsman.org.uk)
     
    Note- there is no mention of safety within the decision reasoning and this would need to be addressed. 

    However from my understanding you would need to prove that the glass supplied would not be safe as otherwise why would they be allowed to use non OEM equipment? 

    Usually when you make a glass claim and use 'autoglass' etc they can see the type of safety systems such as auto breaking and also light/ rain sensors through the reg so that they can supply the right level of glass for the vehicle. 
  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,614
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    Which insurer was this with? One of the budget insurers?

    The few times I (or close family) have had to claim for a replacement windscreen I have never had any pushback from the insurer in providing OEM glass. Depending on the car  and warranty we have either just gone with whatever as the car was older, outside of warranty and no sensors or cameras to be concerned about, or requested OEM and ensured that an re-calibration will be done by them or the manufacturer when changed.
  • Earthling42
    Earthling42 Posts: 21
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    edited 31 January at 1:32PM
    400ixl ... it would be useful to know which insurers were ok fitting OEM glass.
  • Earthling42
    Earthling42 Posts: 21
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    mills705
    the problem with third-party fitters is that they do not fit to Volvo's standards or use Volvo's recommended adhesive.  Most fitters will have the car ready to collect after 2-4 hours yet Volvo recommends 12-24hours.  The other issue is quality control.  I have been told by someone in the industry that it is not unusual to have variance in glass thickness.  A 1mm difference in glass thickness can translate to a 1metre difference in the safety systems distance calculation.  I suspect this applies to all vehicles with these safety systems.  
    See below for Volvo's argument for OEM glass.
  • caprikid1
    caprikid1 Posts: 2,106
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    When my windscreen was hit by a stone and needed replacing, the Insurance company insisted on using third-party glass and fitters.  Volvo states that non-OEM glass will potentially compromise the function of about 20 safety systems and warranty claims because of non-OEM glass replacement will be invalidated.  My reaction to the insistence on third party suppliers is that it represents unfair contract terms.  Despite the small print that no-one reads, my understanding was that my car insurance policy contract should put me in the same position as I was prior to the damage and not compromise my or passengers' safety or invalidate parts of the manufacturer's warranty. 

    The insurance company has now agreed to pay my claim for an OEM replacement windscreen.   You do not have accept their high-handed dismissive response on safety concerns and they can be challenged successfully via the Financial Ombudsman Service.

    Recommendations for making a claim
    1. Check with the car manufacturer/dealer for their view on the safety of third-party glass & fitters.  Ask them to supply any supporting documentation or publications.

    2. Ask the car manufacturer/dealer if the fitting of non-OEM glass will invalidate any part of the vehicle warranty.

    3. Tell your insurance company that you want an OEM replacement windscreen fitted by a manufacturer approved fitter.  The reasons are:
    a. 3rd party glass has not been tested in the same way as OEM glass and therefore cannot be proven to be as safe or to allow the car’s safety systems to operate as designed. 
    b. The use of 3rd party glass will invalidate the warranty.
    c. Your insurance company will no doubt point you in the direction of small print in the insurance document that forces you to use their ‘approved supplier’ and any replacement glass that they want to supply.  I would maintain that using components and unapproved fitters represents unfair contract terms and contradicts the expectation of an insurance policy to restore the insured to the position they were in before the claim; especially where the insurer’s preferred resolution of a claim reduces the car's safety features and invalidates the car manufacturer’s warranty.  

    4. If the insurance company rejects your argument, then raise an official complaint so that they are forced to issue a final refusal letter.

    5. Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service at https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/ or call their helpline at 0800 023 4567.  

    6. I would suggest referencing this ruling on the use of third-party glass.  It is very likely that similar complaints against other car insurance companies will have a similar outcome.

    Sounds like Classic Direct Line to me
  • Earthling42
    Earthling42 Posts: 21
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    caprikid1 ...... you must have ESP & yes it is.
  • dunstonh
    dunstonh Posts: 115,638
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    6. I would suggest referencing this ruling on the use of third-party glass.  It is very likely that similar complaints against other car insurance companies will have a similar outcome.
    Have you got the DRN for the ruling or did it not require going to an ombudsman?

    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). The comments I make are just my opinion and are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice and you should not treat them as such. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
  • Earthling42
    Earthling42 Posts: 21
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    I don't have a DRN for the ruling as it did not go further than the investigator before Direct Lined decided to "review the case" and offered to pay the cost of replacing the screen.  The investigator stated that "The complaint will be logged as a change in outcome for UKI (DL owners) so it will be shown that the complaint was upheld against them." 
  • rigolith
    rigolith Posts: 2,561
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    This is going to get more and more common as more cars have complex safety systems that look through the windscreen.
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