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

Using the body shop your car insurance company recommends can speed up the repair process, but you have the right to get your own estimate from a third party.

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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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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®

UPDATED: May 13, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The insurance company has an obligation to make you “whole” again by restoring your vehicle after an accident
  • Going with the car insurance company’s recommendation may increase your chances of getting your vehicle back faster
  • You have the right to get an estimate for the repairs and a detailed description of the damage from your own mechanic

You are not required to use the body shop your insurance company recommends.

There may be advantages to you, as an insurance consumer, for doing so, though. Consider both before taking action.

Here are some things for you to think about before making the decision and then also be sure to enter your ZIP code in above for a free car insurance quote comparison online!

Right to Choose Your Own Body Shop

After the accident, you can take your vehicle to the auto body shop of your choice.

If you have developed a relationship with a particular mechanic or garage, you may want to have them take a look at the vehicle to determine the extent of the damage.

Someone who is familiar with your vehicle and its history can also tell how much damage was incurred during the car accident.

The insurance company has an obligation to make you “whole” again by restoring the vehicle to the state it was in before the accident occurred.

A mechanic who has never seen your vehicle before doesn’t have the same frame of reference to work from as one who has done work for you in the past.

If you choose your own body shop, as opposed to visiting the one the insurance company recommends, and you aren’t happy with the work, then you will have to deal with the dispute yourself.

The insurance company will take a “hands off” approach and only reimburse you for the cost of damages after you pay the deductible.

You may also need to pay for the cost of the repairs up front and wait to be reimbursed by the insurance company if insist on having the repairs completed by your own mechanic.

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Body Shop Recommended by the Car Insurance Company

Insurance companies have developed relationships with a number of body shops. They have a history of working with the insurance company’s adjuster and its policyholders to get the repairs completed.

The body shop will provide an initial estimate the adjuster and to you before the work is started.

If there is additional damage to the vehicle that is discovered after the work has started, the estimate will need to be adjusted to reflect this fact. Additional parts and labor costs will be taken into consideration.

Since the insurance company has already established a relationship with the body shop, the shop may agree to bill the insurance company directly for the additional cost.

The auto shop billing the insurance company directly means that you will get your vehicle back faster.

You won’t have to pay this expense out of pocket and wait for the insurance company to issue a check, since the body shop may agree to release your vehicle before it has been paid.

Deciding to get the repairs completed by the body shop the insurance company recommends may also mean that the work will be guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle.

This gives you peace of mind that if there is a problem with the work that was done, you have recourse to get the matter dealt with.

Be sure to ask about guarantees on parts and labor before the work starts.

Deciding Which Shop to Use

You can make arrangements for an independent mechanic, who is not connected to the insurance company in any way, to take a look at the damage and work up an estimate for you.

You have the right to get an estimate for the repairs and a detailed description of the damage from your own mechanic, as well as one that has been recommended by the insurance company if you choose to do so.

If you simply want to get the repairs completed quickly, the easiest way may be to arrange to have your car taken to an approved auto body shop. You can take a look around at that point and ask any questions you feel are relevant.

Another factor to consider is your rental car coverage and how long you can get benefits under this policy provision. The insurance company will only pay for the time allotted to finish the job on the estimate.

If hidden damage becomes apparent after the work has started, the insurer may refuse to pay for the rental car for the additional days unless you have taken the vehicle to a body shop that is on its approved list.

As always when dealing with insurance matters, it’s a good idea to make a list of questions for the adjuster and/or the customer service department with your insurance company.

You don’t make a claim under your car insurance coverage every day, and you want to make sure that you are making the kinds of decisions that will get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Enter your ZIP code to compare free auto insurance quotes online now!

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