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