Does My Car Need to Go to a Specific Shop for Repairs After an Accident?

You were in a car accident and filed an insurance claim to get your car damage repaired. Now what do you do? The moments after an accident can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to navigate confusing insurance claims. Often, insurance adjusters automatically provide you with a list of specific repair shops and ask you to choose one that is closest to you. But do you have to use one of their repair shops?

The answer is no. You are not legally required to use a repair contractor recommended by an insurance company. You can either choose to select from their approved contractors or search for your own body shop or mechanic to fix your car. However, it’s critical that you keep in mind the pros and cons of using an insurance company’s preferred body shop, and if you decide not to, you must choose a reputable body shop to ensure you’re receiving quality repairs.

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Pros and Cons of Using an Insurance Company’s Preferred Body Shop

Generally, most insurance companies have repair contracts with several different body shops. Choosing to get your car fixed at one of your insurance company’s preferred shops has its pros. For instance, the biggest advantage is that your insurer will work directly with the body shop. Meaning once a repair estimate is made, the shop can send it to your insurer and your insurer can issue the payment back to the shop. You won’t have to worry about any out of pocket expenses unless you have a deductible on your policy. Here are a few other advantages:

  • Save time: You don’t have to search for a shop or wait for an inspection and estimate—plus, you may be able to get your car back sooner.
  • Reduced paperwork: Your insurer and the body shop will take care of most of the paperwork involved. The most you would have to do is sign a few papers authorizing the repair.
  • Nationwide networks: If your car was repaired in a different state than where you live and a problem arises later, your insurer can easily locate different shops within your area.
  • Lifetime guarantee: If your paint job starts wearing off or you have another problem with your car, most repair shops will repair it free of charge

Of course, going through an insurance company’s preferred body shop isn’t always a walk in the park. One of the main drawbacks is that your insurer and their repair provider don’t know anything about your vehicle condition before the accident occurred. For example, if you had a huge dent from a prior accident you didn’t report and the repair provider noticed it, you may end up having to pay more, depending on your policy limits. Some other significant cons that you may run into include:

  • Lower quality repair: Some repair shops will use cheaper parts or perform an incomplete repair to keep the costs down, which could be problematic later down the road.
  • Business competition: Since insurance companies funnel in damaged cars to repair shops every day, the shop’s main concern is satisfying the insurer, not you. Also, sometimes these shops have hundreds of cars being repaired, so you and your vehicle are likely not a priority.

If you have a bad feeling about using an insurer-recommended repair shop, trust your gut and don’t feel obligated to cooperate with your insurer’s preferences just because it seems easier. You should always look over online reviews, and if you do decide to utilize an insurer-designated shop, make sure you stay informed and ask questions throughout the entire process.

Air bag and Front windshield cracked by car accident
Mechanic repairing a car in a garage after a car accident

Using a Self-Selected Body Shop

You may decide that you want to go through another body shop, and that’s perfectly okay. There are many reasons why you may want to look around for other repair shops. For example, you may have a prior relationship with a reliable mechanic or technician and you feel more comfortable with their work. Or maybe there aren’t any insurer-approved shops close to you.

Whatever the case, it is critical that you choose wisely. You must be sure of two things: your car is properly and efficiently repaired, and your insurance company will cover the repair costs from the shop you choose. To make the process as seamless as possible, consider the following information when using a self-selected body shop:

  • Check to make sure the mechanics have certifications such as ASE, AAA, AC-Delco, ICAR, PPG, and NAPA
  • Inquire about warranties on car repairs
  • Read reviews
  • Ask about damage, prices, cost of labor, and time

Although you aren’t required to use an insurer-preferred shop, beware that you may get an unfavorable response from the insurance company. As a result, you may need to take things into your own hands. Insurance companies will ask you to get multiple estimates, and if the cost still isn’t where they want it to be, your situation can quickly turn ugly.

Learn More About the Claims Process With The Barnes Firm’s Car Accident Attorneys

The Barnes Firm is a top source for trusted legal representation has recovered billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. Our car accident attorneys are experienced in handling insurance companies who don’t want to pay the full compensation for your vehicle damage or injuries you sustained. We will stick by your side throughout the entire claims process and help you learn more about your options and rights after your car accident.

To schedule a free consultation, call our office or complete a contact form today. Act now to get the settlement you deserve.