Most car accidents result in some type of damage to the vehicle. This means, there are thousands of claims to insurance companies each year to get these vehicles back in good driving order and millions of dollars spent by the those insurance companies on auto and body shop repair.
If you have been in an accident and insurance is paying for your vehicle to be fixed, the insurer may give you a list of approved shops to which you can take your car. But a lot of drivers are not aware that they do not have to take their vehicles to one of those shops, but may employ the services of any licensed auto or body shop they wish.
Why Insurance Companies Want You to Use Their Designated Shops
Chances are, your insurance company has contracts with local auto and body shops and will provide you with a short list of where they would like you to take your vehicle to be repaired.
The insurance company sets up these contracts for a number of reasons including:
- they have negotiated lower parts and labor costs, saving them money on your claim;
- the claim is handled more efficiently, as the body or repair shop submits paperwork to the insurer; and
- their approved shops must offer a warranty.
These are all valid reasons for choosing their shops, and if you are comfortable with the repair service garages they have provided, go ahead and take your vehicle there. However, if there is another shop you prefer to use, under Ohio law you are allowed to take your vehicle anywhere you wish to be repaired. However, you must first obtain an estimate from the shop you are using and submit it to insurance. If the estimate is unreasonably higher than one from one of their pre-approved shops, you may be asked to pay the difference.
You May Want to Think Twice about Using an Insurance Recommended Shop
Although most auto shops do all work to the highest standard, many people are hesitant to take their car to the insurance-recommended shops. If you take your car to a garage on the provided list, you may question for whom the mechanic or body repair technician is actually working. If the customer is you, you know the garage is working to get your car back to its former condition regardless of the cost. If the customer is the insurance company, the auto shop will still try to restore your car to its former condition but may do so at the cheapest cost possible.
This might mean they will use aftermarket and salvaged parts. You have a right to know what type of parts they are using on your vehicle, so read your estimate very carefully and if the part-types are not clearly described, just ask. You also need to be cautious about using non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, as the installation of these components can invalidate the factory warranty on your vehicle.
Your best bet in choosing a body shop is to:
- read reviews online;
- get recommendations from friends and family; and
- check out the business with organizations such as Angieslist or the Better Business Bureau.
Ideally, you should choose a body or repair shop that is reliable and trustworthy and where you feel comfortable taking your vehicle, whether it is insurance-recommended or not.
If your car has been badly damaged in an accident and you feel the insurance company is not giving you the compensation you need or is otherwise low-balling you on its settlement offer, call the Bressman Law Firm in Alexandria at 877-538-1116 to discuss your options.