Should I use the body shop my car insurance company recommends?

You do not have to use the body shop that your insurance company recommends, but it may be easier if you do. Learn about the pros and cons for using your own body shop and using the one recommended by your insurer.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 26, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • You have the right to take your car to a body shop of your own choice and do not have to accept the insurance company’s recommendation
  • However, this may lengthen the process as you may have to pay the shop first and wait for the company check
  • Study the details of your policy to see if this will affect rental car availability

When accident damage sidelines your car, you’ll want to get back on the road as soon as possible and have filed an insurance claim to help pay the bills. Your insurance company may recommend a particular body shop, and you may wonder whether you must go with this facility or can make your own choice. 

There are several factors to consider here, and we know that it may be difficult for you to make that decision, so we have outlined the pros and cons below.

Can you choose your own body shop for insurance work?

You have the right to take your damaged car to a body shop of your choosing, and the insurance company cannot insist that you use the facility it recommends. However, it may be better for you to use the shop it nominates for a couple of reasons, and you should consider all options before you decide.

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Why do insurance companies have preferred body shops?

Many insurance companies have built up a good rapport with certain body shops and know that it provides a high standard of service with few issues. 

The shop will have a history of working with an insurance company’s adjuster, which may make communication a lot easier as they discuss each case and swap details. Also, the insurance company may be happy with how each preferred shop treats its customers.

What if I have a good relationship with my own body shop?

You may have used a particular body shop before and are happy with the service it has given you. You may have built up your own rapport and would rather give the business to them instead. 

So, if the question is, “Can insurance force me to use one body shop?” the answer is no. Your insurance company should work with you to find a body shop you can agree on.

What about the car insurance rules?

The insurance company may prefer a particular body shop and have a direct bill agreement in place. This means that the body shop will send the invoice directly to the insurance company, which might make things more convenient.

You might otherwise have to pay the expense out of your own pocket first and wait for the insurance company to send you a check to reimburse you.

Will my choice lengthen the process?

You may get your vehicle back sooner if you agree to take it to the recommended garage. In this case, that body shop may release the car to you once work is complete and before receiving payment. This is because the body shop trusts the insurance company to foot the bill, which may allow you to get back behind the wheel sooner than later.

Can I use my own body shop, or will this cause extra complications?

Study your policy’s small print. If the company gives you a rental car while your vehicle is off the road, what will happen if you insist on using your preferred shop? After all, the company may only pay for the rental car for the time allotted to finish the job in the estimate. 

Your insurance company may automatically extend this time if hidden damage becomes apparent and the approved facility handles the work. Otherwise, it may refuse to do so if you insist on taking the car to your preferred shop.

Do I have to use my insurer’s body shop?

You do not have to use your insurance company’s preferred body shop and can take the vehicle to a garage of your choice. However, this could make the entire process take longer if you have to wait for your insurer to send you a check instead of it dealing with the preferred body shop directly. Make sure to do your research before deciding on which body shop to use, it could save you a lot of money.

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