At some point after a car accident, you are going to need to have your vehicle repaired. If the accident was your fault, you will need to have it repaired by your own insurance company, assuming that you have collision coverage.
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you will have a choice. You can go through your own insurance for repair, or use the other driver’s insurance company. If you need help deciding which one, see this other blog post. It should make that decision easy, and it’s probably not the answer you think.
Either way, when you go to set up the repair with the adjuster, he or she will ask you if you would like to use one of their “approved” or “direct” repair facilities. Most peoples’ first reaction is to say “no way!” People are concerned that using the approved repair facility will result in poor quality work and low quality parts because the body shop will cut corners for the insurance company.
You should understand that no matter where you have your car repaired, the insurance company is going to send an insurance company appraiser to physically inspect your vehicle. Any estimate from any body shop will have to be approved by the insurance company’s appraiser if you want the insurance company to pay for it.
In my experience, (which includes years of setting up, reviewing the estimates and writing the checks for the repairs) the insurance companies just want to make sure that they are not paying for things that weren’t caused by the accident, and confirm that “like kind and quality” parts are used to replace the damaged parts. There was never a case of an appraiser or body shop trying to put used or inferior parts on a vehicle that I was ever aware of.
Radio commercials would have you think that the bigger shops in town will do better work. But in reality, it’s not like the most impressive body shop in town is going to put upgraded parts on your car. If they tried to give you upgraded parts the appraiser would deny it, and if you chose to get them anyway you would pay the difference out of your own pocket. It’s just marketing. The parts are coming from the same places.
If you have a shop that you really want to use, go ahead and use them, but if not, don’t be so quick to dismiss the approved shop. The repair will definitely be completed more quickly, since the appraiser never has to physically inspect the car. The body shop will take digital pictures, complete an estimate, and email it to the insurance company. After a quick approval, they’ll be able to get started with the repair.
One of the biggest advantages of the approved shop is that the insurance company will stand behind the work of that particular shop. If you get the car back and the paint doesn’t match, you’re covered. You’ll still be in your rental car, and the body shop and insurance company can fight over who’s paying for the continued rental while they get the paint right, but bottom line is that it won’t be you paying.
The truth is, the adjuster really doesn’t care if you use their approved shop or not. As a matter of fact, some adjusters would prefer that you didn’t. I knew adjusters who would intentionally “forget” to mention it as an option, since it had the potential to make more work for them.
No insurance adjuster wants to have to mediate a disagreement between a body shop and a customer. You see, insurance companies don’t repair cars. Insurance companies simply write checks. It would be much easier for the adjuster to tell a customer the check was written for the amount of the estimate, and if there is a problem with the actual work, then they need to take it up directly with the body shop they chose to do the repair.
Understand that a good body shop will to whatever they need to do to make sure you are a happy and satisfied customer. If there is a problem with the initial repair, they should stand behind their work. The problem is that what they should do and what theyactually do are sometime two different things. So choose wisely.
As an auto accident chiropractor in Sacramento, I can tell you that there are many other insurance issues that need explaining, and we’ll get to them in later posts. Car accident injuries and car accident treatment will also be discussed.