If you’ve been in a car accident, you undoubtedly have a lot on your mind. If your car was damaged in the collision, it could mean you’re unable to travel to work, transport your children to school, or run important errands like going to the grocery store or picking up needed prescriptions. It’s important you are able to get back on the road as soon as possible so you can resume your regular schedule. An experienced auto body repair technician can help, but you might be asking yourself where to start when it comes to getting collision repair after a car accident. Knowing your options is the first step in navigating this process.
Here are some key things to consider when searching for and working with an auto repair shop.
Working with the Insurance Provider
Insurance companies often suggest an auto body shop in your region that you can work with. Direct repair programs have a network of collision repair shops that are approved by your insurance, but that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to use them.
There are some benefits to working with an auto repair shop that has already been approved by your insurance such as:
- High standards: most insurance companies pre-screen auto body shops they suggest to ensure they meet certain quality standards.
- Streamlined process: If an auto repair shop has worked with the insurance company before, it’s likely they have streamlined the paperwork and payment process.
- Extended warranties: Sometimes insurance companies will extend warranties on repair work.
- Service: If you are having your car repaired and have an insurance claim because there’s an agreement with your insurance company, many times auto repair shops within the direct repair network will prioritize your repairs, so you can get your car back on the road as soon as possible.
- Rental car: Many times insurance companies will work closely with auto repair shops and rental car companies. With direct repair programs, there are often one-stop-shop options where you can drop your car off for repairs and pick up a rental car.
Choosing Your Own Auto Repair Shop
While there are benefits to working within your insurance company’s suggestions, sometimes you’re better off choosing your own. You may choose to pick your own auto repair shop because the one your insurance company suggested is too expensive or too far away.
If you opt to choose your own repair shop, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Do the research: Make sure you research your options. Get a quote/estimate ahead of time, check online reviews and testimonials of the shop, check out the repair shop’s website to make sure they’re full service and can make your required repairs, and make sure the shop you choose is willing to work with your insurance provider.
- Get a recommendation: Check with the people you trust most such as family, friends, or coworkers to see who they recommend for auto body repairs.
- Warranty: Make sure the auto body repair shop you choose offers a warranty on parts and services.
- Experience level: It’s important you choose a shop that not only hires experienced technicians but is well established in the community. Always check to make sure the technicians at a collision repair center are licensed, insured, and certified.
- Shop quality: You can tell a lot about a business by how organized it is. Look for a shop that is well kept, runs smoothly, and stays busy.
When working with an auto collision repair shop after a car accident, you should inquire about the following topics:
- Request a complete and thorough estimate, including labor and parts
- How long they think it will take to repair your vehicle
- Will they work with your insurance company
- Whether you have the option to use “after-market” parts or recycled parts, or if you’ll only have the option to use original equipment made by the manufacturer
- Will your parts and/or service have a warranty and if so, for how long
- Whether you will need to pay the deductible out of pocket or if the insurance company will pay it
Whether you decide to go with a collision repair shop your insurance provider suggested or choose one yourself, if you follow the above steps and do your research, you should be back on the road in no time.