Getting into a car accident is a scary experience — and the moments after the accident are stressful. If your vehicle is damaged, you’ll need to file an insurance claim, but then what? You may assume you’re in for further headaches as you choose an auto body repair shop and work to get insurance reimbursement for the damages.
However, getting post-accident repairs made doesn’t have to be difficult. Basically, you have two options. You can select an auto body shop from your insurance company’s list of approved shops, such as The Hartford’s Customer Repair Service Program (CRSP). Or you can find your own body shop to handle the repairs.
Keep in mind that the same technological advances that make your car better to drive may also make repairs more complicated. They could also make the repairs more expensive. Here are some things to consider when making this decision.
Why Use an Insurance Company-Recommended Auto Body Repair Shop?
Using an insurance company-recommended body shop can have many benefits. While your insurance company is committed to fixing your vehicle after an accident, your particular situation will dictate which is the better option for you.
Saving You Time and Money
Opting to use an auto repair shop that’s already approved by your insurance company can save you time and possibly money. That’s because you don’t have to search for the shop, get an estimate or wait for an inspection. Your insurance company has already agreed to work with the shop. Because you save some time on the front end, working with a recommended shop also may help you get your car back sooner.
In addition to saving time, working with an approved shop can save you the hassle of filling out paperwork required by your insurance company. And, in most cases, insurance companies require their approved shops to guarantee their workmanship if there is a problem with the work down the road, for as long as you own the vehicle. On the other hand, if you choose your own shop, you’ll have to deal with any future issues on your own .
When you use an auto repair shop recommended by your insurance carrier, they may offer a reduction in your deductible — the price you pay out of pocket for repairs. Such discounts can help when you’re already dealing with the stress of an auto accident and repairs. In fact, the option of using an approved shop is intended to help you avoid additional worries during a stressful time.
The body shop should provide an initial estimate, whether it’s an approved shop or not. However, if you select a shop that is recommended by your insurance company, the shop will be able to work directly with the insurance company to handle any additional costs that come up during the repairs. That way, you don’t have to pay up front for other items that may arise and then wait for your insurer to reimburse you for those charges.
Rental Car Coverage
While your car is in the shop for repairs, you may need alternative transportation. Some insurance policies include rental car coverage for such situations. If you have chosen an approved repair shop and the repairs turn out to take longer than planned because of hidden damages, your insurance company often will work with you to extend your rental car agreement. Check your policy to find out exactly what it covers regarding rental cars during repair.
Why Shop Around for Another Auto Body Repair Shop?
Selecting an auto body repair shop that has been approved by your insurance company offers a number of benefits, but for some vehicle owners, there are valid reasons to shop around for repairs at other auto shops.
For instance, you may have an established relationship with an auto repair shop that you’ve worked with for years. In addition, if the repair technician at your regular auto shop is familiar with your vehicle and its history, they may be better able to determine the amount of damage your vehicle sustained in the accident.
Lack of Approved Shops Near You
If there’s not an approved shop in your immediate area, that can be another good reason to seek your own shop. If you’d have to drive a long distance to get to an approved shop, then the benefits may not be worth the trouble. Or, if you locate a shop that can repair your vehicle for a better price than those on the insurance company’s approved list, the savings may make it worth using your own shop.
If you decide to shop around and use a repair shop that has not been recommended by your insurance company, that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Your insurance company still will work with you on handling and paying for the damages to your vehicle. You just don’t get the benefit of having the insurance company work directly with the approved auto shop to handle all the paperwork for your claim.
Ask the Right Questions
Whether you use an auto shop approved by your insurance company or a self-selected shop, it’s important to make the selection carefully. When assessing your options, you may choose to have an independent shop or mechanic provide an estimate for the work to be done, so you can use it in making your decision.
To ensure that your vehicle is repaired properly and efficiently, you’ll need to ask a number of questions of both your insurance company and auto shop(s) you’re considering.
When you talk to your insurance company representatives, here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What information do I need to prepare to make a claim?
- What is covered and how much is covered?
- Is a rental car available with my policy and for how long?
- What do I need to do next?
- How does the process look from now until my car is made whole again?
- What shops in my area are approved by the insurance company?
When you evaluate an auto repair shop, consider asking the following questions:
- Are your technicians certified?
- Will you be using genuine manufacturer replacement parts?
- Do you offer a warranty on repairs?
- Your estimate is more/less expensive than another shop. Can you explain why? (Keep in mind that only one estimate is generally needed in order to determine damages, but if you choose to get more than one and they are quite different, this is a good question to ask.)
Check the Approved List
Even if you have an auto body repair shop that you prefer to use, check your insurance company’s approved list to see if that shop is included. If so, you’ll be able to remain loyal to your favorite shop and still take advantage of the benefits of using an insurance company-recommended shop.
While your insurance company has approved the repair businesses on its list, that doesn’t mean every one of them will be a good fit for you. Before using a shop on the approved list, ask questions to make sure you feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the shop and its repairs. You can conduct research about the shop online or call your insurance company to ask questions about a particular auto body repair shop.
If you’re a customer of The Hartford, call 1-800-243-5860 to report an auto claim and ask about the Customer Repair Service Program. You can also locate an approved auto shop online.
*Not available in all states.
It’s nice that you talked about how a repair technician at a regular auto shop that is familiar with the vehicle and its history may be better able to determine the amount of damage the vehicle sustained in an accident. My sister crashed our car on a dumpster last night and it left some big dents on some parts of the car. Leaving the dents be would only make thing worse, so I should definitely bring the car to an auto body collision repair shop immediately.
Thanks for sharing that an insurance company-recommended repair shop can save you time and money. That would help the repairs fit in my budget. Maybe I can find a repair shop near me that takes my insurance.
Thanks for the article some good advice 🙂
After an accident, my insurance low-balled me with only $1600 of damages (minus my $1500 deductible). The 2 auto body shops they recommended have the worse reviews for service, so I went to a place that my trusted mechanic of 20yrs suggested. This owner took one look and said it was definitely a total, not worth fixing and no way can I sell it in the current condition.
He said to leave it with him with the police report for him to do a deep dive inspection to convince my adjuster than it should be totaled so I can get at least a few $1,000 for its value to use towards buying another vehicle. He said his knowledge over rides their evaluation since they really do not know what goes into the work.
My only question is why would he do that for me? What does he get out if it? Confused as to how he makes any money with this process?
I love how you suggest choosing an auto body shop that is recommended by your insurance company. My sister needs to find an auto body shop for her car. I’ll have her get recommendations from her insurance provider.
You made a good point that the genuineness of the parts used is important to consider when choosing an auto repair shop. My son got into a minor car accident a couple of night ago and his car might have sustained considerable damage. Some replacement parts would surely be needed for the repairs.
Everything was great
Thanks for explaining that we can ask if a rental car is available for any length of time while our vehicle is being worked on. The front end of my SUV was really badly damaged when I was involved in an accident with a truck at an intersection yesterday. I’m glad I read your article and learned what questions to ask to help me find a local car repair service I can feel confident about using!
Really a nice point that customers should keep in mind while choosing a particular service center, very informative.
We also do a similar kind of repair and servicing https://www.autofixbuddy.com/
I own a paintless dent removal company – (https://piedmontdentrepair.com/repair-service/) and I give a lot fo the same advice to my customers. Great information.
My husband recently got into a small accident, but it was bad enough that his car requires some repairs. He loves how you talked about paperwork and how an approved shop can allow you to fill out less with the insurance company. We will keep these tips in mind as we search for a professional that can help with our needs.
Nothing like starting off my day reading and learning about something cool. Your blog post accentuated my breakfast perfectly! Thank you 🙂
Find just one automotive body shop that offers quality repairs at a reasonable price is quite challenging. But here are some consideration to be followed: OEM certification programs, I-Car certification & online reviews of body shops are some highlighting factors to help you decide which shop is better.
Nothing like starting off my day reading and learning about something cool. Your blog post accentuated my breakfast perfectly again! Thank you 🙂
Deference to op , some superb selective information .
I like how you mentioned that opting to use an auto repair shop that’s already approved by your insurance company can save you time and possibly money. My cousin had a car accident and his car has the front bumper all damaged. I will advise him to search for a reliable auto repair shop as you said.
I like your advice about checking your insurance company’s approved list of repair shops. Auto body repair should be taken care of by professional technicians that have received ample training. If I were to get into an accident, I would locate a repair shop in my town that has a great reputation.
Thanks for your feedback, Sam! We are glad we can help.
I like what you said about the benefits that come from choosing a repair shop that has been approved by your insurance company. I believe that finding a reliable car repair shop is vital for any person who is on the road a lot. If I were to ever find myself in need of a car maintenance, I would make a concerted effort to locate a reputable service in my area.
Thank you for suggesting that you should make sure and ask if the shop offers a warranty on their repairs. My husband and I were in a car accident last night and need to get the body of our car fixed. I’ll have to look into finding the best shop in our area to get our car back to normal.
My sister was in a sticky situation a little earlier today. She is wondering because of this how to pick the best auto collision repair shop. It makes sense that you would want to ask for estimates or if it is a private shop or not.
Relevant Information for me that i was actually looking for.
I love your advice for choosing a collision repair company. My wife was in an accident recently, so we’re going to need our car repaired. I’ll have to ask our insurance for a recommendation, like you said, to save money. http://www.precisioncollisionfrankfort.com/collision-repair