How it works

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CHOs currently obtain their business via referrals from insurance brokers, breakdown companies, garages and insurance companies. They pay a referral fee to capture the customer, usually several hundred pounds.

CHOs operate through call centres. Usually one phone call is all it takes for a CHO to decide whether they can asist the motorist. If they can, they will take over all the hassle arising from an accident. These include liaising with the customer’s insurance company, providing them with replacement transport, and perhaps organising repairs and helping them claim compensation for any injury or losses they may have suffered.

The CHO will usually notify the claimant’s insurance company on their behalf, or ask them to notify their insurer once the CHO has agreed to help them. They need to know for information only, as the claim is against the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.

The law says claimants are entitled to the service a CHO provides after a non-fault accident, regardless of their vehicle insurance. The bill for any replacement vehicle a CHO provides, or the repairs they organise and fund, are sent to the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.

Some CHOs may ask the claimant to pay a small amount for an insurance policy that guarantees that even if the insurance company of the driver to blame doesn’t settle the bill, they will not end up paying.

If the claimant’s vehicle is driveable, the CHO may organise a suitable repairer and repair date with them. They will then ask the claimant to take their vehicle to the agreed garage, where a replacement vehicle will be waiting for them. When the repairs are complete, they will simply need to drive the hire car to the garage, leave it there for collection and drive their own car away.

If their vehicle is undrivable the CHO can arrange for a replacement vehicle to be delivered to their home, work or any other suitable address. The CHO can then organise the undrivable vehicle to be taken to a repairer.

Wherever possible, the customer is given replacement transport of a similar standard to their own vehicle, e.g. people carrier, motorbike, estate car or prestige car. All the customer has to do is show that they need a similar standard vehicle, for example a people carrier to take their children to school each morning.

At the present time there are probably about 120 CHOs in the UK but the great majority are extremely small.