Many times when experiencing an accident, people call their insurance company for direction and guidance on what to do and where to go. After they file the claim, many times the insurance company will give them a recommendation of a body shop where to get the repairs done.
If your insurance company directs you to a specific body shop, make sure to ask them if you have the freedom to choose. What most people don’t understand, is that many insurance companies have negotiated contracts with select body shops that allow the insurer to get discounts, and dictate how certain auto body repairs are performed – even if it’s not in your best interest. One example may be that a part being replaced must be an aftermarket part – instead of an OEM. This would allow the insurance company to pay less to the body shop for a repair, and in some cases – could weaken the integrity of the vehicle, which could mean it becomes less safe in the case of a car crash.
The practice of an insurer to recommend a client to a specific body shop in the attempt to leverage their relationship and ultimately pay less with more control – is called STEERING… and it’s illegal.
Think about this: Who would be better at repairing your damaged vehicle – the body shop that got take it apart and look at everything up close and personal – or the insurance company that gets to see a picture of the damage? With select body shops that have signed a contract with the insurance companies, they are subject to what the insurance company allows. If you were the insurance company, would you rather pay for the repairs based on a limited view – or have everything “torn down” to the last final detail – and pay a premium on everything that happens?
I would suggest that if you find yourself in an accident – file your claim and then ask around for the best body shop in your area. Post a Facebook inquiry. Search Google Reviews and Yelp to find out who has the best reputation in your area, and then go get an estimate at a couple of the body shops. Ask the estimator how long it will take, and if the insurance company has any “say so” in the repairs. Find out how long the body technicians have worked there. How long the painter has been painting cars. What kind of car paint does the body shop use? Do they have any testimonials of happy customers? What sets them apart from their competition? Are they certified to repair your vehicle? Will they give you a rental car? Is there a lifetime guaranty? Can they deliver?
Many times, there are confrontations between insurance adjusters that come out to inspect your vehicle, and the body shop professional on how to perform the repair. If I were you, I would want to be on the side of the entity that wants the best and safest repair for the vehicle that carries my family.