Since there are several choices, how does a person go about choosing a body shop? Well, since those involved in a auto accident will be speaking with their insurance company representative, in many instances they are going to patronize the shop advised by their insurance agent.
Insurance agents are quick to suggest an auto body shop when a customer is in need of vehicle repairs resulting from an automobile accident. However, it could turn out very badly for the client if he takes his car to the shop his insurance company representative has advised. Let me explain:
When your insurance company representative steers you toward a repair shop, it’s going to be a shop within his company’s “direct repair program.” The program consists of an agreement between the insurance firm and the repair shop. Under the agreement, the shop must repair the cars of customers sent by the insurance firm. In turn, the insurance carrier must point their clients to the member body shop.
Additionally, the auto body repair shop must estimate the price of vehicle repairs using aftermarket car parts. But there’s still more – should a lawsuit result because of substandard vehicle repairs, the body shop is under agreement to indemnify the insurance firm and bear liability.
But you may be thinking “So why would I care if the body shop fixes my car using aftermarket parts?” Just what does that mean to me?” The answer is “LOTS!”
Aftermarket car parts, otherwise known as replacement crash, salvage, or rebuilt parts, are auto parts that are created by a company other than the original maker or vendor. They are typically produced in Taiwan.
They are less high-priced compared with the parts manufactured by the car maker (to the delight of your insurer) and using them means you insurance carrier will have to pay out less in claims. But regrettably, this is a case of “you get what you pay for” as the aftermarket car parts are frequently of lesser quality. They are more inclined to fail, resulting in added repair work being needed, and in a worst case scenario, can mean that the “fixed” car is dangerous to drive!
Given that there are legal issues involved if auto repairs are done in a substandard manner, for what possible reason would a body shop willingly enter into the insurance company’s direct repair program to start with? The answer is simple: they don’t want to be forced out of business! Because it’s a matter of the survival of their business. After all, if the vast majority of body work is sent by insurance representative referrals, what does that mean for those repair shops who won’t “sign on the dotted line”?
Suppose you need repairs and choose to patronize a body shop outside the company’s “network”? Your insurance firm may well play “dirty tricks” to convince you that you made the wrong choice. Perhaps they will hesitate at paying for repairs – or maybe drag their feet about sending out an adjustor to check out your vehicle.
Does this result in a hassle for you? Sure. But it’s well worth it when the only other choice is to go to their “preferred” body shop and have to endure the potential results.
In conclusion, when you’re in need of an auto body shop, know your rights! If the shop your agent recommends is using aftermarket auto parts, find another shop. And if your insurance representative says “They won’t agree with our appraiser”, “We can’t work with that shop”, or “We won’t guarantee the repair when you go there” be aware that these and other similar statements are misleading at best, and at worst, outright falsehoods!