Will my insurance company make me use a certain car repair shop?

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If you are involved in an accident and your car requires repairs, your auto insurer will expect you to coordinate the repairs on your own. Your insurer will likely provide you with a list of “suggested” or “approved” repair shops. However, you are not obligated to bring your car to the repair shop suggested by the auto insurer.

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It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to choosing an auto repair shop. You are more likely to get the best deal, as well as peace of mind, if you are educated about what your auto insurer can and cannot require from you.

What to Expect From Your Insurer after an Accident

Having a car accident can be frightening and overwhelming. In addition, many people are unsure of what to expect when they submit a claim to their insurer following an automobile accident.

If you’ve been in an accident and you are filing an insurance claim for auto repairs, the first thing that will happen is that a representative from the insurance company (or someone working on their behalf) will want to look at the car and document the damage. They will also take your statement about where, when, and how the accident occurred.

Throughout the claims process, you have certain rights when it comes to how your case is treated and how the process proceeds.

These rights may vary by state and by your contract with your insurer. The Insurance Information Institute recommends contacting your state insurance department or Attorney General to fully understand your rights.

Next, you can proceed with having your car repaired. Generally, the insurance company will provide you a list of repair shops that are “suggested” or “preferred.” In some cases, the insurer may seem very adamant or convincing that you should take your car to one of these repair shops. However, you have the right to choose the repair shop you bring your vehicle to.

Insurance Company Approved Repair Shops

Insurance companies may provide suggested repair shops for several reasons. It is a common belief that the insurers get a kickback or a refund on the cost of the repairs, for using certain shops. This benefits the insurer, but not the customer. In fact, the customer may end up paying more because the shop is trying to recover the cost of the discount given to the insurance company.

While this seems frustrating and unfair, it is not always the case. There are many other reasons why an insurer may recommend certain shops as suggested or preferred. This may be because of the high reputation of the shop, or the quality of the work that they do. It could also be because this repair shop has guaranteed a quick turnaround, or has specialized knowledge of the type of repair that you need.

It is in the insurer’s best interest, as well as the owner’s, for the repair work to be done as well as possible. If a shoddy repair is performed, the car is more likely to have problems and could be susceptible to further claims.

Bringing Your Car to the Repair Shop of Your Choice

While you can certainly listen to the suggestions made by your insurer, at the end of the day the repair shop that you bring your car to is your choice. You will want to do your research about the repair shops that the insurer prefers.

Ask the insurer why they recommend that specific repair shop. Also, check online for reviews and customer comments regarding the repair shop. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start to get non-biased information about customer complaints or issues.

You can also solicit quotes from several repair shops to help make your decision. Make the repair shops aware that your insurance will be covering the claim (wholly or partially) and you are shopping around for the best deal.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate; you may be able to secure a lower price.

Once you’ve made your decision, you will need to inform your insurance company of your choice. You can expect that if you have gone outside of their recommended list of preferred repair shops, they may try to convince you otherwise. You should hear out what your insurer has to say, but remember that no matter what they tell you, you have the right to choose your own repair shop. If your insurer isn’t willing to acknowledge this fact or cooperate, perhaps it’s time you looked into getting a new auto insurance company!

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