Do I Have to Use my Insurance Company’s Auto Body Shop?
Do I have to use my insurance company’s auto body shop? No. And here is why.
This is a very common question: do I have to use my insurance company’s preferred auto body shop? In the state of California, and most states, the answer is no, and for good reason.
You want your vehicle fixed right…
The insurance company wants your vehicle fixed cheaply…
See where there might be an issue?
Your insurer’s job is to minimize your financial risk – and theirs. That’s it. Do not rely on your typical insurance company to act as a concierge. Acting out of their own interests, they will guide you towards a recommended list of vendors in your area. They trust these vendors and have established relationships. These vendors have proven to be reliable and cost effective. Reliable and cost effective however, may not mean quality or convenience for you. And for that reason, most states offer consumers the right to choose their own auto body shop.
One Reason Why You Should Your Own Auto Body Shop
Insurance companies create networks of direct repair programs. The main benefit of these programs is the streamlined process between the insurance company and the repair shops. By working together time and time again they increase efficiencies. Increased efficiency tends to improve profit. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this relationship, however it is not always in your best interest. In many cases the auto body shop does not look at YOU as a customer, but rather the insurance company.
It’s your car, and you paid the insurance premiums – you should be the focus!
Consider the economics of the transaction. Insurance companies are incentivized to complete the work as cheaply and quickly as possible and will likely rely upon vendors to facilitate quick, cost-effective (cheap) repairs. So, ask yourself, are “cost-effective repairs” what you really want for your vehicle?
Think of an independent shop as an unbiased third-party. When you select an independent shop YOU are the focus, not the insurance company. Independent shops have their reputation on the line and will recommend a repair that gets the vehicle into proper working order and looking as good as new, satisfying your needs, not theirs.
Expect This When Choosing an Independent Auto Body Shop
Perhaps you have chosen to go with your neighborhood shop because of their great reviews and they provided you with a satisfactory and reasonable body work estimate. In this case, the insurance company may push back against certain aspects of the estimate they deem unnecessary. They may want to delay, argue and otherwise steer you away from using the shop of your choice or the service plan your auto body shop recommends.
If this happens, push back!
Independent body shops with solid reputations are experienced in dealing with the many techniques insurance adjusters use to push back on using a non-program vendor. If proceeding with an independent auto body shop, make sure the auto body shop will help guide you through the process with your insurance company so that your vehicle is returned in proper pre-accident condition.
Common Tricks the Insurance Companies Use
- Insurance companies will claim that independent body shops will try and charge you out-of-pocket for certain expenses. Avoid being tricked into this tactic by getting the quote in writing from the body shop.
- Insurance companies will say that independent body shops do not have a warranty on their work. This is simply not true! Reputable body shops offer a warranty.
- They will say that the repairs will take longer. Again, not true. In many cases the independent shops can turn your repair around quicker than the partner shops whom may have waiting lists. If your car is drivable, expect that partner shop to push you out even further!
Sometimes Going with the Recommended Vendor Makes Sense
One benefit of going with a recommended vendor is the established relationship with the insurance company and the quick turnaround. Perhaps they recommend a shop that you’ve heard good things about and the shop is located close by. In this case, follow the standard procedure for selecting a body shop.
- Get a detailed estimate that breaks out labor and parts
- Ask about the warranty
- Ask about free shuttle service and towing
- Read up on their reviews
But at the end of the day, remember that the recommended vendors are merely a suggestion and the insurance company cannot enforce them upon you. If you are in California, this is the bill of rights that protects you!
You can find the bill of rights here > California Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights
- Select the auto body repair shop to repair auto body damage covered by the insurance company. An insurance company shall not require the repairs to be done at a specific auto body repair shop.
- An itemized written estimate for auto body repairs and upon completion of repairs, a detailed invoice. The estimate and the invoice must include an itemized list of parts and labor along with the total price for the work performed. The estimate and invoice must also identify all parts as new, used, aftermarket, reconditioned or rebuilt.
- Be informed about coverage for towing and storage services.
- Be informed about the extent of coverage if any, for a replacement rental vehicle while a damaged vehicle is being repaired.
- Be informed of where to report suspected fraud or other complaints and concerns about auto body repairs.
- Seek and obtain an independent repair estimate directly from a registered auto body repair shop for repair of a damaged vehicle, even when pursuing an insurance claim for repairing the vehicle
Quality Assured Collision Center has been serving the Long Beach, CA community since 2004. We specialize in collision repair, body work, dent repair, car restoration, and mechanical work. We can offer towing, drop-off and pick-up and even perform a free 15-point inspection on your vehicle. As experts on all insurance situations, we will help guide you through the process and we work with all types of financing situations for those paying out of pocket.
Call us now or text us a picture of your vehicle to (562) 599-0766