If your car is damaged in an accident or collision, you want it fixed and put back into service as quickly as possible. Where should you repair your vehicle and how does the dealership work with your insurance company? Knowing your options gives you more control over the process.
Here is some important information on how to find and work with an auto repair shop after an accident.
ADVANTAGES OF A DIRECT REPAIR PROGRAM
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), many insurance companies offer direct repair programs. A direct repair program is a network of body shops approved by your insurer.
You don't need to go to those recommended mechanics or body shops for repair. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), you are free to choose your own establishment. However, working with one of your insurance company's “favorite” repair shops can have some advantages.
Simplified payment and repair process.
Your insurer and local direct repair shop can have a streamlined payment and repair process that cuts down on paperwork and saves time.
Auto repair shops recommended by your insurer will be checked in advance to ensure they meet certain quality standards.
Typically, a body shop can offer a one or two year warranty on its repairs, says III. However, if you work with an insurer's preferred store, your insurer can guarantee transaction processing and extend warranties for your repairs as long as you own your car. Plus, with the insurer backing the job, you'll have access to the nationwide network of body shops (not just the one that did the repairs) in case you need to call your warranty.
Some direct repair programs even offer "one-stop shops" where you can take your car to one location for an insurance quote, repair your car, and even pick up a rental car, says III. This type of business is designed to help save you time by reducing the number of steps you need to take during the application process.
Since they have an agreement with your insurer, direct repair shops may offer preferential treatment when you make an insurance claim. This means that repairs to your vehicle are given priority so you can get it back up and running quickly.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN MECHANICAL OR COLLISION REPAIR WORKSHOP
If you want to take your car to a store of your choice, keep these tips in mind.
In addition to recommendations from your insurance company, get suggestions from friends and family who have worked with companies they trust, suggests the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Also, read online reviews from local auto mechanics and body shops.
Check for industry certifications.
Ask any company you are considering if it has industry certifications, suggests the FTC. These "seals of approval" can come from organizations such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Accident Repair (I-CAR), and the Service Association. automobiles (ASA). These certifications ensure that shop technicians have met or exceeded key qualifications for repair work.
Look for reasonable signs of the quality of the business.
Department stores tend to be quite busy, Edmunds.com says. Good deals should also be reasonably clean and well organized. If the store is dirty or messy, you might want to look elsewhere, advises Edmunds.
WORKING WITH AN AUTOMOTIVE WORKSHOP DURING REPAIRS
Once you have decided on a deal, there are several steps you can take to understand the repair work being done on your vehicle.
Check the budget for the repair shop.
Request a full written estimate for the repair work, according to the FTC. The estimate should include a clear breakdown of the cost of labor and parts. Question anything that is not clear.