First, stay calm. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately. Do not move your vehicle, unless you are in immediate danger and it would be safer to get your vehicle in a different location. You should get the name of the person (s) driving the other vehicle (s) involved along with their phone number, driver’s license, vehicle license and insurance information. Try to obtain any witness’ name and phone number (s). Note the location, time and date. Use your camera phone to take pictures of the scene, vehicle damage and witnesses.
When you have an accident, you have the right to determine where you want your vehicle towed and where you to choose to have your vehicle repaired. A high-quality collision repair shop will arrange towing for you, perform appropriate repairs and work with your insurance company.
This is a complicated question with a lot of different answers. Take the time to read our blog on the 5 things you should know when choosing a body shop.
Price is Not the Way to Choose a Shop
In most transactions, we are accustomed to making decisions based on price. In the collision repair industry, even though it may appear that all things are equal there can be very big differences. Improper repair methods can be very dangerous.
Does the shop you are evaluating have manufacturer factory training and certification? Are they an I-CAR Gold Class shop? These are signs that they can restore your car back safely to pre-accident condition.
Source for Repair Standards
Ask the shop where they get their repair methods? Do not use a shop that does not subscribe to your car’s factory specifications. These cars are complex and built by brilliant engineers. If the shops thinks they are smarter, that’s not the shop for you. You’d be surprised how few shops subscribe to the factory specifications. It’s the only safe way to repair a car.
Relationships with Insurance Companies
Almost every shop will tell you they take any insurance. The problem is delays that may occur. It can take days or weeks of additional time to process your vehicle if the shop is not accustomed to dealing with particular insurance companies. Most insurance companies develop relationships with larger shop groups over years of working together. These relationships are based upon years of earned trust. These relationships expedite your repair. The staff is trained to do work with the insurance company and has specific software to communicate and expedite the repair. Without this, the insurance company has to come out to the shop, adding additional time to the process.
The repair process begins with you finding a shop you are comfortable with and having them review the damage to your vehicle. Typically the shop will take photos and record the visual damage. They will send that information to the insurance company to get approval and at the same time they will order the parts and schedule a date for you to drop off your car. Damaged parts are removed to make sure all of the damage has been seen. If more damage is found additional parts will be ordered and the insurance company will be contacted. Once the shop has all the parts and approvals the repair will start and they should be able to give you a delivery date.
Look for a lifetime warranty on workmanship. Make sure that if you don’t live in that area, that it is still covered. If the warranty says Limited Lifetime warranty, look closely. There are many good limited warranties, but be careful.
You can arrange the rental car through your insurance adjuster or have the shop do that for you. You should be able to get a rental company to assist you right at the shop.
A common question is should I use aftermarket parts. The answer is, “It depends.” There are many good reasons to use both. Factory parts will always be the easiest way to get to a quality part. However, aftermarket parts are often every bit as good. Many parts are even made in the same factories. Aftermarket sheet metal is sold in different qualities. Some are junk and some are quite good. We are more than happy to work with whatever you choose. We will always do a quality inspection and we never use aftermarket structural parts.
A common feeling we hear is that insurance companies are just cutting corners to make a profit. They all certainly want to make a profit, but price still is the leading way consumers buy insurance policies. Because of this, the carriers have to find ways of saving money. The options they use are really the same things you would look at if you were paying direct. If your insurance requires aftermarket parts and you don’t want them, just tell the shop service advisor. We can try to price match or at least give you the option to pay the difference. It’s often very minimal.