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Peter G.
Peter G., Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 767
Experience:  Law degree from the University of Melbourne 1978, with thirty years of practice experience.
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5 month old new car was extensively hail damaged.

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My 5 month old new car was extensively hail damaged. AAMI assessor said 'cant fix that' then sent me to their recommended panel shop. The panel beaters initially had my car for 2 months. As it is a hard top convertible, they replaced the bonnet, roof and boot and fixed the dents in every other panel. When I got it back there were still some dents, the lining in the boot was not connected, the new paint had an organge peel effect and did not match the rest of the car, the roof rattled and creaked and an obvious whistling sound was coming through the back passenger window. A number of other things like dirty paw marks, a residue left on the tinted window and some connections in the boot were not attached. It went back to the repairer for another month. When I got it back the dents were taken out, the paint was fixed, the lining was attached to the boot - but not like it was before the repair and they had cleaned it. However the whistling sound and the rattle and creaking sound were not fixed. Also the connections in the boot were not fixed and the panel beater has put notes on them saying 'what are these.

I spoke to AAMI at this time and they instructed me to take it back again and they would get there assessor to go over it before I collected it. They had it another few weeks. All up they had it just less than 4 months. When I collected it the repairs were not done. The whistling and the creaking roof are driving me crazy. I contacted AAMI again and they were straight to the point saying the car was fixed, assessed by them and nothing was wrong with it. I talked them into letting me take my car back to Chrysler. A Chrysler representative went for a drive in it and stated the repair was not satisfactory and they could fix it if they could strip the car back to see what the problems were. It sounded like it was not aligned but they could not quote unless they could determine the problem.

THe AAMI assessor spokesperson stated that they would not pay for this because they do not believe anything is wrong and Chrysler ought to know how to fix it without stripping it back, therefore I would have to pay for it if I wanted it done. I stated that was not fair and we negotiated for me to take it to an independent panel beater. I found one who deals with Chrysler cars and he came for a drive with me and he stated that I must be going mad because of the noise it was making and the repair was completely unacceptable. His advise was for me to take it to AAMI in Vermont immediately and get their assessor to go for a drive in it. I did that today and the AAMI front desk representative reported back to me after speaking with their assessor that their assessor did not go out for drives. The AAMI representative then got on the phone to Preston AAMI - the branch that had originally looked at my car and the outcome was I could take it back to Chrysler for them to do a quote, if it was not too expensive they might fund the repair but could give no quarantee. I would still have to payfor this quote. I stated that I would not do that because the car ought to have been fixed or written off and if they could not fix it then why wasn't it written off. They then called the Panel beater that had come for a drive with me earlier on if he could send them a quote for the repair, and he responded the same way as Chrysler, in that he would have to strip it back to see what the problem was - personally I do not think they want to do work for AAMI. The outcome is the panel beater I drove with earlier on is going to get another similar car from Chrysler and put my car and that car next to each other to see if they can determine what the problem is. I just have to wait for their call. I am frustrated, angry, and disappointed. I was without my car for nearly 4 months and I had only had it, brand new for 5 months. The car is not like is was before the repairs. It was even ok, in terms of not rattling and creaking and whistling with the hail damage. The problems started after the repair. I do not know how to tackle this insurance company as I feel that the original panel beaters and AAMI Preston are shafting me. I do not want them to get away with it. They advertise new for old within the first year if the car is written off, and I was informed initially that if two or more panels required replacing the car would be written off. All my panels needed repairing and three were replaced. They also advertise life time quarantee on repairs - however this does not seem to be true. I believe they want to ware me down and this makes me even more determined. Please let me know what should I do next.

Hello,

Welcome to JustAnswer.

Indeed its a sad tale.

I think at this stage I really would be considering litigation. Your relationship with AAMI is contractual, and AAMI is legally obliged to carry out its obligations under the insurance contract.

Naturally this would have to be looked at thoroughly, but I think you have been more than patient to date.

To be able to bring a successful claim for performance under the contract (and indeed I think perhaps also damages for negligence / loss of use of car, etc.), you will have to have an expert opinion from an appropriate person. This may be the person you have already seen, or a professional auto repair assessor.

You will need a written report about the repairs not been complete/carried out properly, and you have to check all the fine print in the insurance contract just to confirm there is a breach, given the content of the expert report.

This may involved you in some expense.

However, what you would do first is see a good solicitor. The solicitor would very likely (I think I would), write to AAMI and indicate that this is the course you are now considering, that AAMI's performance and attitude to date has been demonstrably appalling, and give them a short time to come to their senses and get this matter resolved quickly and properly. If they don't do the right thing, then you would proceed with your claim.

If you take legal action, you will recover your out of pocket expenses if you succeed, and other legal costs.

Of course all of this would be a step by step process, and you would have to adjust to circumstances, but in broad terms this would be the approach. But you do need the expert opinion; you would take the formal action on the basis that the author of this opinion would ultimately give his evidence in court. There are many good auto assessors about who do this sort of thing; and many I suspect who will not particularly like AAMI.

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