In the event you’re in an accident that results in body work needed for your vehicle, your insurance company will probably recommend a repair shop that they frequently work with. While this sounds like a great service in theory, they are likely recommending that shop because they have a repair contract with them. This means they have a vested interest in you going there. But while it may seem like they are pressuring you to only use their auto body repair shop, you don’t have to follow their recommendation.
How it Works
By law, you don’t have to use the insurance company’s recommendation, but you may be wondering: will you get a quality repair job if you go elsewhere? Using the recommended shop is beneficial mainly to the insurance company because they have negotiated better deals that translate to lower material and labor rates as well as parts discounts. In return, the repair shop gets all the business sent their way from the insurance company. They do, however, have to undergo equipment and training requirements as per the insurance company. They also have to offer lifetime warranties on parts.
Insurance companies strive for about 40 percent of their claims going to their recommended repair shops. This doesn’t mean you have to, though. In fact, they’ll try to persuade you very strongly so that you ultimately end up abiding by their request. They may say your claim won’t be dealt with efficiently if you go off on your own. They may say it could be a week or more before the adjuster can come out to take a look at your vehicle. They may even say they won’t warranty any of the repairs if you veer from their recommendation.
This may scare you off. That’s what they want. But if you’re really intent on going to your own repair shop, don’t budge. Legally, they can’t delay the process and they can’t keep you from using your own repair shop. Consider this: any reputable auto repair shop near you will provide a lifetime warranty regardless of whether the insurance company is paying them or you are. It’s in their best interest to treat all customers the same and provide efficient service no matter what.
However, one benefit to you for using insurance company-recommended repair shops is that those mechanics are familiar with the claims adjusters because they work with them so often. They know the process, they know what to expect, and they can get the estimate and repairs done quickly as per the insurance company wishes. You can also cut down on possible disagreements between insurance companies and repair shops when they know each other.
In cases where you seek out an outside repair shop, insurance companies may not accept their estimate right away of what a repair will cost. Other times, the insurer will generate the original estimate and the repair shop disagrees, says Nerdwallet.