In the state of California, you are not required to use the body shop your insurance company recommends. However, there may be advantages to you though. Here are some things for you to think about before making the decision.
You Have the Right to Choose Your Own Auto Body Shop
After the accident, you can take your vehicle to the auto body shop of your choice. If you have developed a relationship with a particular body shop, you may want to have them take a look at the vehicle to determine the extent of the damage.
If you choose your own body shop, as opposed to visiting the one the insurance company recommends, and you aren’t happy with the work then you will have to deal with the dispute yourself. The insurance company will take a “hands off” approach and only reimburse you for the cost of damages, after you pay the deductible. You may also need to pay for the cost of the repairs up front and wait to be reimbursed by the insurance company if insist on having the repairs completed by your own collision repair shop.
Using the Body Shop Recommended by Insurance Company
Your insurance company wants to retain you as a customer. It is very important that the claims experience goes as easily as possible for you. They do not want to refer you to a place that you will have a bad experience. If you have a problem with an auto body shop, the insurance company will have more pull with one where they refer a lot of work. Don’t underestimate the value of that.
Insurance companies have also developed relationships with a number of body shops. They have a history of working with the insurance company’s adjuster and its policyholders to get the repairs completed. The body shop will provide an initial estimate the adjuster and to you before the work is started.
If there is additional damage to the vehicle that is discovered after the work has started, the estimate will need to be adjusted to reflect this additional damage. Additional parts and labor costs will be taken into consideration. Since the insurance company has already established a relationship with the body shop, the auto body shop may agree to bill the insurance company directly for the additional cost. This means that you will get your vehicle back faster, without having to pay this expense out of pocket and waiting for the insurance company to issue a check, since the body shop may agree to release your vehicle before it has been paid. This can save days on the amount of time it takes to repair your car.
Deciding to get the repairs completed by the body shop the insurance company recommends may also mean that the work will be guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle. This gives you peace of mind that if there is a problem with the work that was done, you have recourse to get the matter dealt with. Be sure to ask about guarantees on parts and labor before the work starts.
Deciding What Body Shop to Use
You have the right to get an estimate for the repairs and a detailed description of the damage from your own body shop, as well as one that has been recommended by the insurance company if you choose to do so. You can also make arrangements for an shop, who is not connected to the insurance company in any way, to take a look at the damage and work up an estimate for you.
If you simply want to get the repairs completed quickly, the easiest way may be to arrange to have your car taken to an approved auto body shop. You can take a look around at that point and ask any questions you feel are relevant.
Another factor to consider is your rental car coverage and how long you can get benefits under this policy provision. The insurance company will only pay for the time allotted to finish the job on the estimate. If hidden damage becomes apparent after the work has started, the insurer may refuse to pay for the rental car for the additional days unless you have taken the vehicle to a body shop that is on its approved list.
As always when dealing with insurance matters, it’s a good idea to make a list of questions for the adjuster and/or the customer service department with your insurance company. You don’t make a claim under your car insurance coverage every day, and you want to make sure that you are making the kinds of decisions that will get you back on the road as quickly as possible.