So you have had an accident and now it’s time for the dilemma of choosing a good auto body repair shop. You haven’t had to deal with something like this for years or maybe it could be your first time. Plus you have no friends who know someone, which could actually be a good thing. The first thing you need to be aware of that in most states it is against the law for an insurance company to tell you where to have your vehicle repaired. This is called “steering” and I have seen it practiced many times, however, they can make a fairly convincing argument without actually telling you what shop to take your car to. It is your car and you have the right to chose who repairs it.
Let’s take a look at the path of least resistance.
- Ask your insurance agent- while this may seem like a good idea on the surface, it may not be. Chances are they will have shops they recommend that are involved with their “direct repair” program. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Check this direct repair article to find out more.
- Pick a shop that is close to your home for convenience – this should go without explaining.
- Take it to the dealer in your area – Car dealers make most of their money on the repairs, financing, and maintenance as opposed to the sale of their cars. The mechanical side is a good bet for the dealer as they know the cars the best but when it comes to the auto body repair, they are NO DIFFERENT than any other individual shop. Some dealers don’t even have their own body shop. The labor rates for insurance claims is governed by the insurance companies (to a point), and that is why they tend to look for more ways to “make more” on your claim. Try going to a dealer for a non insurance estimate, almost always they will be higher than independent shop’s estimates. So when choosing a good auto body shop, keep these few things in mind .
- If it was towed, let the shop it was towed to fix it – If your vehicle was towed to a shop without you requesting that, chances are they are counting on your business because it is not always convenient to transfer the car out again. More often than not ( at least in our area), a wrecker(tow truck) driver will be making some kind of commission on the repair of your vehicle for bringing it to that particular shop. Guess who wants to make up that profit loss? The insurance won’t pay for that so it needs to come out somewhere, most often in the repair. This can be done via not putting on all parts , cutting the technicians labor or similar bad practices like that. You can bet that the loss will be on the consumer’s end without them even knowing it. I’ll talk more on this on another post.
When choosing a good auto body repair shop there is no way to know for sure how your car will be repaired, there are some things to look for to help your decision.
- Ask if you can see some finished cars and inspect them if possible. Have the manager explain what was done and show you pictures if possible.
- Check their reputation online to see what other customers are saying about them.
- Take a tour of the shop and see the work in progress on other vehicles. If that is not acceptable from the manager, that should throw up a red flag for choosing a good auto body shop.