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Do You Have to Use the Body Shop the Insurance Company Recommends?

Your insurance company likely will recommend a repair shop. The question is, do you have to use their recommendation?

No. You don’t have to use the body shop that the insurance company recommended. The choice is yours — by law, in the majority of cases. Yet a question remains: Will you get a quality repair?

Most insurance companies have repair contracts with body shops in your area. Choosing the insurance company’s repair shop has benefits for the insurance company, which has negotiated lower labor and material rates, as well as parts discounts with those shops. The shop will have met the insurance company’s equipment and training requirements. Insurance companies will also require their shop to provide a lifetime warranty.

Insurance company claims representatives are given set goals. In general, companies would like to see at least 40 percent of their claims go to their direct repair shops. If you have chosen your own repair shop, claims representatives will frequently try to sway you away from your decision, telling you that your shop isn’t on their list, thus they won’t be able to handle your claim efficiently. They may explain that it will take up to a week before an adjuster will be available to write an estimate on your car. They could go further by stating that their company will not warranty the repairs if you don’t have your car repaired at their shop.

Do not be intimidated by this. Reputable auto body repair shops provide a lifetime warranty no matter who is paying the bill. Shops are systematically interested in handling your claim and the repairs efficiently. Also, shop estimators are familiar with your insurance company’s claims process and know their local adjusters, making it easy to complete the estimate process and repairs quickly.

Again, the choice is yours.

Overall, whether it’s the insurance company’s recommended shop or your shop of choice, it is important that you choose a repair shop that you feel confident in. Ask friends, family and co-workers for recommendations. You can also research body shop reviews online through websites like Angie’s List.

Questions to ask yourself

Visit and get estimates from several shops. While there, think about these questions:

– Does the shop have a lifetime warranty?

– Do they have experience working on your type of car?

– How long have they been in business?

– Have they worked with your insurance company before?

– What is the likelihood that the estimate will go up once the repairs have started?

No body shop can hold contracts with all insurance companies. If the shop you chose isn’t on the insurance company’s list, it doesn’t make them a poor choice. Your shop doesn’t have to be on your insurance company’s direct repair list in order to repair your car professionally and efficiently. A reputable body shop will work with any insurance company to restore your vehicle to the condition it was in prior to your accident and provide a lifetime warranty on repairs.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on May 6, 2013.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Betsy Fessler is the owner of Fenders Collision Center, Inc., an auto body repair business located in Sunnyvale, California. In business for 19 years, Fenders provides a comprehensive list of services including auto body repair, refinishing and frame straightening.

As of May 6, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie’s List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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