I will try to keep this article informative and give you some experience and links to help you with any future claims if you are unfortunate enough to have to deal with any.
I am essentially posting this because I have just been through all this and it has been a horrible experience, hopefully this can help you avoid the pitfalls and issues.
This is an objective view from me and my opinions are not those of Autobulbs and is a topic supported by them simply as a discussion.
So from the start, the other day (Tuesday) I was in an accident, no fault of my own stationary and rear ended. I contacted my insurance company to start the claim against the 3rd party. (I am fully comp with Admiral)
When on the phone it came to the point after the discussion of the accident my car details etc, I was offered 2 options proceed.
Option 1- Lose my no claims bonus, pay my excess
and continue with Admiral and the choice to select where my car is repaired and a hire car
Option 2- Keep my no claims and pay nothing
and talk to Albany Assistance.
These were my only options, I was assured Albany was a subsidiary of Admiral, so after lots of questions I said OK bit of a no-brainier option 2 and was very much led that way with leading questions and opinion from the representative.
Little did I know there were other options, I shall come back to these in a bit.
I continued on and was told by Albany they were extremely busy and would give me a call back. I received my call the next day went through the details, re-asking me everything, I said they can get it from Admiral which they accepted. Then came onto the next step, my option for repair shop was an Indy local garage, I stated I wanted BMW certified to which they said all repairs have a 5 year warranty. I refused as I wanted my car to be handled right (anal petrolhead detailer and carbon black!) I said I would accept no less and I don't mind traveling if necessary doesn't have to be on my doorstep. Here was my first alarm as they stated they deal with no BMW certified repair shops.
They then asked me to OK and certify a long terms and conditions they read out, I had to clarify some sections as it was a 'credit agreement'
at no cost to myself. This I was told was not anything to do with credit.. which it clearly was and was a protection for myself. This was pushed as not affecting me and protection for myself so I said OK. Another mistake.
Moving on from the repair I was told I would receive a like-for-like hire car which is fine. I was then asked to OK the £15
pound fuel charge, I declined as this I thought was appalling, I am the one who has been inconvenienced and was wrong through principal I refused to pay. She said it is policy of the hire company and could not be avoided as its £15 fuel in the car and it is being delivered. They said there was nothing they could do but re-direct me back to admiral (strange as they are meant to be a subsidiary and linked) so they would continue the repair claim and refer the hire car.
I decided there were too many alarms so did some research into Albany and called my usual BMW garage, from here the receptionist did not understand and was not really following so I asked to talk to the actual accident repair shop used, after this I unleashed the details of Albany and similar companies.
It was discussed at length finding that they essentially purchase my details from Admiral and essentially orchestrate the accident at extreme cost to the third party company overcharging for the privilege. In turn clearly this massively affects our insurance prices overall due to the exuberant costs which hit the 3rd party insurance companies.
This is described at length by people working at the companies and many others at some links here...
Discussion topic Mail online article Law Gazette
They have been discussed at length on Pistonheads and many other forums, GTI-6 and M3 Cutters to name a few. If you are like me you will not have seen these unless you happen to the in the situation!
Post research I immediately called Albany and cancelled all current and future use of their services and removed myself from their database, this was surprisingly easy and well taken.
The next call I received was from Admiral asking about my hire car dispute, this person was very helpful and this is when option 3
came up, I discussed my disappointment with the service and my time with them etc.
was to wait until the other party accepted the claim so rather than refund the excess once they admit fault I can not front the money at all and have no worries of it falling through. This had already been done and my contact popped me on hold and got this sorted.
So following this I can now use a BMW-Porsche certified garage, although my nearest is a 45min drive it makes me more comfortable.
Then we were back onto the hire car, which I was told Albany was their hire car service, even though I know they hire it off another company and add their charge as they said it was another company themselves. I declined and said I did not want to deal with their company at all. Finally Admiral acting as they should on my behalf got in contact with the 3rd party and organised a hire car through the 3rd party company so I have nothing to pay out no fuel surcharge nothing as well as being a like-for-like.
I have now also been contacted by the new Repair garage and even though they are quite far away have now offered to collect my vehicle too which is a bonus saving me time and guaranteed for the drivers etc for driving style and mileage.
All in all once I had my information and knew what to say sorted the process has been much better. It is just having the right person (don't be afraid to ask for a different one) and knowing the right things to ask and say.
I hope this will help someone, I have tried to keep it neutral and factual, any opinions given are not shared by Autobulbs and are purely for discussion purposes.
I will be following all this up with a blog post once I have researched and written it on what to do in an accident and to help give you the best chance in your claim.
Talking of which I have a blog here if you Hit a pothole, you can regain your costs rather than claim on your insurance which may help you too. Pothole Help Blog
Thanks guys I will update you as my claim continues as the car is collected next Wednesday.