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


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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.
 

FactSheet - VolvoGenuineWindshield-compressed.pdf

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Thank you very much indeed for this.

How long do this process takes you from the moment of the stone hit your windscreen – to getting your final decision from the ombudsman.

Were you without a car at all and if so for how long?

Were you paid any compensation as a result of this?

How long did the insurer take before they gave you the final response?

Could you please give us the name of the insurance company.

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Hi BankFodder

I rang my insurance company on 13 August 2023 and the options offered were third-party windscreen replacement or £120 contribution if I chose to use an OEM replacement.  I refused both options and made an official complaint via the insurers internal complaints procedure. 

At this stage, I booked my car into the local Volvo dealer for an OEM replacement windscreen.   The Volvo approved adhesive requires the vehicle to be stationary for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.  It is worth noting that most third party fitters do not use vehicle manufacturers' approved adhesives and will let you collect your vehicle after 2-4 hours. The dealer gave me a loan car.

As expected, on 8th September the insurance company did not uphold my complaint.  On 9th I made a complaint via the Financial Ombudsman Service.  The initial conclusion in my favour by the FOS investigator was 3rd November 2023 that gave the insurance company 2 weeks to respond. 

There was some back & forth that resulted in the insurance company agreeing to pay my full costs on 25th January 2024.  The insurance company have until 21st February to contact me and, presumably, arrange payment.

I don't want publicise the name of the insurer as, as far as I am aware, nearly all car insurance companies/policies use the same approach with minor variations in terms and have been doing this for 10-15 years.  It is likely that there are thousands of vehicles with third-party replacement windscreens that compromises driver & passenger safety. 

I was told by one technician that a 1-millimetre difference in glass thickness could result in a 1-metre inaccuracy in the safety systems distance calculation.  I was told by another technician that variance in glass thickness was not unusual in third-party manufactured replacement glass.  

I cannot find any evidence that third-party manufacturers test their products to the same standard as the car manufacturers are forced to by the various legislative structures that apply in the marketplaces where their products are sold.  I also cannot find any objective external oversight or any evidence that suppliers and third-party fitters use the same strict standards as the car manufacturer for quality testing or fitting method or use of appropriate adhesive.  

 

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Thank you for this. I hope others and your position will read your account and it will help them.

Maybe if your insurance company doesn't play ball and doesn't pay you by the deadline, you might then be prepared to name them

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  • BankFodder changed the title to Financial Ombudsman rules against Insurance company use of non-OEM replacement windscreens

OK ... It's Direct Line (owned by UKI who also own Churchill).  But most of the car insurance industry seem to have similar clauses in their policies. 

It gets worse the more of the small print read - Direct Line state "We may decide to repair your car with parts that haven’t been made by your car’s manufacturer, but that are of a similar standard. This can include recycled parts."

Does anyone know of any companies that do not impose third-party or recycled replacement components?

Edited by earthling2023
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Thank you.

Clearly if the parts that they use are not up to the manufacturer standard in the way that you have described, that they are in breach of their own terms and conditions.

 

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I think the main point is that the Insurance companies don't know if third-party components are up to the standard determined by the various legislations that determine what vehicle manufacturers have to comply with .  Third-party manufactured components do not seem to go through the same or any safety or quality testing as imposed on OEM's.  

If the the insurance companies T&Cs include the idea of fitting recycled parts then I'm not convinced their policies are worth the paper they are written on.

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