Should the compensation from third-party liability insurance for vehicle owners include discounts and rebates on repair services, parts, and materials used for vehicle repair that are available at workshops collaborating with the insurance company?

Request for the Financial Ombudsman to adopt a resolution aimed at resolving discrepancies in the interpretation of legal provisions

On December 12, 2023, the Financial Ombudsman applied to the Supreme Court with a request to adopt a resolution aimed at resolving existing discrepancies in the case law regarding the interpretation of legal provisions, with the aim of determining the answer to the following question:

In the case of damage to a motor vehicle, constituting partial damage, where repair became impossible due to subsequent actions of the injured party, such as selling the vehicle in a damaged state or repairing it beforehand, should the compensation due to the injured party under the mandatory third-party liability insurance of motor vehicle owners be determined as the hypothetical equivalent of the costs of restoring the vehicle to its previous condition?

The purpose of this question was to determine whether it is permissible to consider discounts/rebates on repair services, parts, and materials used for repairing the motor vehicle within the scope of compensation from mandatory third-party liability insurance of motor vehicle owners.

Resolution of the Supreme Court III CZP 142/22

On May 8, 2024, the Supreme Court, composed of 7 judges, adopted the following resolution regarding the above-mentioned question:

If the injured party has already incurred repair costs or has committed to incurring such costs, the amount of compensation from the mandatory third-party liability insurance of motor vehicle owners should correspond to those costs, unless they are clearly unjustified in the given circumstances; the amount of compensation does not depend on discounts and rebates available to the injured party from entities collaborating with the insurer.
If the injured party has not yet incurred repair costs or committed to incurring them, the amount of compensation from the mandatory third-party liability insurance of motor vehicle owners should correspond to the average repair costs in the local market, taking into account discounts and rebates available to the injured party, unless their use is contrary to their legitimate interest.

Nowelizacja

The above resolution of the Supreme Court confirmed that the injured party has the right to choose the workshop for repairing the motor vehicle, and the insurer cannot require the repair to be carried out according to repair offers and discounts negotiated with workshops collaborating with the insurer. The legislator grants the injured party the right to choose the method of repairing the damage, including the right to choose the workshop where the repair will be performed.

According to the Financial Ombudsman, the Supreme Court’s resolution should positively impact the situation of injured parties intending to repair their damaged vehicles to the pre-accident condition.

At the same time, it should be noted that the Supreme Court also clearly addressed the situation of injured parties who do not intend to carry out repairs to the vehicle or intend to perform repairs independently and will demand reimbursement of hypothetical repair costs. In such cases, discounts and rebates that are available to the injured party in the accessible network of repair workshops and spare parts stores can be considered in the compensation due to the injured party. According to the Financial Ombudsman, this means that such potentially included discounts should be reasonably obtainable by the injured party in the local market, without automatic application in these cases.