After a car accident, your insurance company may recommend a list of “approved” body shops. For many consumers, this may seem like their only choice. After all, your insurance company is the one footing the bill, so this seems like the obvious thing to do. Also, most people just want their car fixed right away and going with their insurance company’s recommendation feels like the most convenient choice.
There is a lot of confusion about insurance recommended body shops. Many consumers are unaware that they have the right to choose their own repair facility. This is the law, but many insurance companies do a poor job of explaining this policy, and the consumer may not realize they have a choice in the matter.
Yes, there are some benefits. Your insurer has the responsibility to restore your vehicle to its pre-accident condition. One of the most significant advantages is time. Your insurance company has established agreements with shops that participate in their program. Most of the details have already been ironed out. Delays are usually minimal, and timely delivery of your car is more likely. In addition, shops that are part of insurance referral networks must meet a strict set of criteria before they can participate. These shops are more likely to be complying with their industry’s best practices.
If you decide to go with your insurance company’s recommended body shop, you have the right to receive an estimate for repairs. It should include a complete breakdown of all damages on your vehicle.
Take a look at this document carefully. While there may be some technical jargon in it, you can still get a good sense of the damages and the necessary repair process. If anything is missing or you notice any inconsistencies, you can address these issues directly with your adjuster.
Most insurance companies have a program called, a ‘Direct Repair Program’ (DRP) which consists of a referral network of body shops. A conflict of interest may arise for some of the shops in these programs because they may prioritize the insurance company over the customer. After all, it is the insurance company sends these shops a steady stream of customers.
You should understand that your insurance company’s best interest rests on you choosing one of their DRP shops. For them, they can influence many of the significant decisions for the repair process. These decisions may not always be in your favor. However, one thing is clear: the insurance company has much more control over repairs on your car when you go with one of their DRP providers.
Whether you choose a DRP shop or not, following these tips will help you feel more confident in the body shop you want.
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for their recommendations. Most drivers have at least had one fender bender in their life and had to use a body shop. Ask them to see what their experience was like with a shop
Take it right from the horse’s mouth. Go to Yelp, Google, and other third-party review websites. Read what others are saying about the shop and its customer service. A body shop with positive customer reviews is more likely to deliver on its promise. A good reputation doesn’t happen overnight. If a significant amount of customers are saying good things about a shop’s auto body repair service, it must mean they are doing something right.
Other helpful third-party resources are sites like the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs. These websites provide trusted and independent information about other businesses.
If you truly care about selecting the best auto body shop, it’s recommended to compare estimates from several locations. This can even include the one from your insurance carrier’s recommended shop. You can see where the shops agree and differ in their analysis. Comparing several estimates also lets you understand the full scope of the required work.
If you’ve done your research, you should have the right information that will help you choose your shop. It may even turn out that the best option is your insurance company’s recommended shop. If so, congratulations, it’s a win-win. But if it’s not, make it clear to the insurance adjuster that you have chosen to go with a shop of your choice. Your insurance company is required to go along with your decision, not theirs.
In the end, you’re the one that has to live with any hidden damage, defects in parts, or poor workmanship that could end up affecting your safety. Choose the body shop you trust will have your best interests in mind. The ultimate goal is to ensure that your vehicle has quality work done on it.
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