One of the most misunderstood aspects of auto collision repair involves your rights and your ability to choose where you want your car to be repaired. This problem seems to be magnified because the minute you are involved in a car accident, a barrage of information gets thrown at you and immediate decisions need to be made. If you are unable to drive the car, it needs to be towed somewhere. Then a police report needs to be written and filed, your schedule needs to be rearranged, along with transportation. Oh, and a call to your insurance company needs to happen. It can be quite overwhelming.
One of the biggest frustrations for auto body shops is the amount of misinformation a driver receives on where they should take their car to be repaired after getting in. Some of that misinformation comes from the insurance companies themselves whether that’s your own insurance company or worse, the insurance company of the other party that hit you.
There is an old saying that goes, “never ask collection advice from someone who owes you money.” You completely deserve and are entitled to know your rights concerning your personal property. It’s your car and no one else’s.
So, the answer to the question if you have to take your car to the auto repair shop recommended by your insurance is: No. But before we go into why you have the freedom to choose whichever body shop for your car repair, let’s back it up a little bit.
What Insurance Companies Will Probably Tell You
Depending on what company you’re insured with, your insurance could attempt to paint a picture that you need to use a shop that is in their network. Unlike health insurance, there are not in-network providers for auto body repair. You are legally entitled to use any auto body shop that you choose and your insurance company must reimburse you for the repairs.
Here are some of the typical statements insurance companies may tell you:
• “The length of the repair might be longer if you go somewhere else. Don’t you want your car back as soon as possible?”
Our response? Quicker repairs don’t always mean better. We’ll get to that down below.
• “That’s not under warranty. We can’t offer your lifetime warranty on the repair if you go to that repair shop instead this one that we chose for you.”
Our response? Insurance companies don’t actually warranty repairs, only repair shops do. The best auto repair shops offer a lifetime warranty, regardless of who is paying for the repair.
• “Well, that shop is out of our network, so we can’t guarantee the length of that repair.”
Our response? While most repair shops do a decent job on estimating how long a repair will take, being a direct repair body shop does not mean that all other shops are slower to repair. Your repairs will take as long as it takes to get parts, repair the damage, paint the car, and reassemble it. Most common repairs can be performed in a week or less. Not to mention, the right auto body repair shop will keep you informed and updated throughout the repair process so you are never left wondering the status of your repair.
Insurance companies are going to try to convince to use one of their Direct-Repair Shops, known as DRP. These are often repair shops that insurance companies have a contractual agreement with, and there are a lot of good repair shops out there who are under this agreement. However, your insurance company is going to try to convince you that if you don’t choose one of their shops, it won’t be covered under your insurance plan.
This is false. You have the right to decide where your car gets repaired. Period.
Repair Time Pressures
Insurance companies want you to get your car repaired and back to you as soon as possible. Customers want the fastest repairs because of the inconvenience of not having their car to drive, regardless of being issued a rental. Insurance companies know this and want to minimize the time you are in a rental car, also known as length of rental.
The problem here is that shops who are under the gun to perform the fastest repair will, in some cases, cut corners. This could be detrimental to the value of your car at resale and you don’t even know it. Let alone, to the safety of you, your family or other drivers could be at risk if a repair is not properly done, especially if it was done in a rush.
Choice of Repair Parts
The vehicles on today’s roads are equipped with advanced technologies that require a specific type of repair. These cars can only be repaired with the same level of parts they were made with called Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. OEM parts are directly from the manufacturer that ensures the right fit and functionality of that part. This has been an on-going debate with some insurance companies for quite some time now, simply because OEM repair parts are much more expensive than aftermarket parts. Insurance companies may also recommend the use of salvage parts, which means they are from a junkyard. It’s best to check with your policy to know how your policy affects what parts are put on your car. Some insurance policies allow OEM parts in auto body repairs, depending on the circumstance and age of the vehicle.
Choice of Repair Facility
As mentioned above, you have the right to choose where your car gets repaired. However, you also want to verify the technicians at the repair shop are qualified to perform the repair. Almost every repair shop has its technicians certified through the I-CAR. However, there are some states where it’s not even required for an auto repair technician to work on your car with a license and Pennsylvania is one of them. That means these technicians can do whatever they want to your vehicle and not be under any legal obligations. It comes down to the shop and the technician, and yes, sometimes these are direct repair shops.
You want your cart to go to a shop that is not only OEM Certified and has I-CAR certified technicians but is a shop who will help you get everything you deserve in your collision repair. You want to find a shop who will be an advocate for your rights.
Why Choose Us
We at 3D Collision Centers have been serving Pennsylvania in our 7 different locations across Deleware, Montgomery, and Chester counties. At 3D Collision Centers, all of our technicians are I-CAR Gold Class certified, which is the highest level of certification that a technician can receive. Every technician is also up-to-date on the latest OEM Repair procedures.
We will work with you and your insurance company to ensure a stress-free repair and are committed to providing our customers with “quality on time, every time.”
We can even provide you with a free estimate, part of the 3D Difference. We are Driven. Dedicated. Dynamic. Our promise is you’ll be satisfied!
We look forward to hearing from you!