Car body repairers have stepped up their campaign to tackle alleged anti-competitive behaviour by some insurance companies which they claim is destroying their businesses.

Repairers are calling for the industry to unite and support the Body Repair Industry Campaign (BRIC).

BRIC has been set up by the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) to carry out an analysis of the relationship between the UK insurance industry and vehicle repair process.

The RMI's Bodyshop Services Division director, Bob Hood, says: "The repair industry needs a project like BRIC backed by an organisation as powerful as the RMI. For too long some insurance companies have been treating vehicle repairers, and not just RMI members, with little more than contempt, and it has to stop.

"On behalf of the body repair industry BRIC will continue to push for the Government, the Competition Commission, the Office of Fair Trading and the Treasury to take a good, long, hard look at the relationship between insurers and repairers.'

The RMI wants a number of serious issues to be addressed as part of BRIC's campaign: specification of non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or second hand parts; allegations of insurance company collusion; cross-subsidy of insurance products; insurer actions against customers (denying them the right to choose a repair centre); MPs to initiate an investigation into possible anti-competitive practices under the Competition Act 1998; an obligation on motor insurers operating their own bodyshops to be VAT registered; an investigation into the pricing structure and comparison of motor insurance cover within the EU; a system that regulates insurer/repairer activity in the UK body repair industry, as an extension of the current MOT Test system.

The Body Repair Industry Campaign is intended to be thorough and wide-ranging and has in part been initiated by a strong message from Westminster that MPs are concerned at what they have heard and are determined to find out more.

The RMI predicts a long and detailed investigation by parliament into the relationship between body repairers and insurers.

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