Nobody ever gets in their car and plans to get in a car accident. If you just got into an accident, you are owed money. Everything else that follows a collision can be misleading and confusing, depending on who you talk to and where you go to for advice. What good is an answer when it only gives you more questions?
Just about anyone who owns a car thinks that all dealers, repair technicians, and auto body repair shops are on a mission to screw them over. And although there are a few bad eggs out there, a real collision repair facility can be your partner in ensuring that every dollar you spend is towards a safe, quality repair.
If it’s been a while since you had your car repaired, you may not know what your legal rights are as a customer seeking collision repair. This can be an incredibly confusing time, especially when you just want to get your car repaired and back to your life before the accident. The truth is, any auto body shop can “fix” your car. However, there could be some sloppy work and safety issues hiding under your freshly repaired your car. Knowing what you’re entitled to during the collision repair process is entirely different and can be what makes or breaks what happens to your car in the repair process.
We’re here to let Pennsylvania drivers know your legal rights for collision repair.
You Have The Right To Choose Repair Facility That Fixes Your Car
Many drivers don’t realize that the right to choose where their car gets repaired is in YOUR hands. Sure, your insurance company might say the shop of your choice is “out of network.” But that’s more for a health insurance situation and not what you’d typically see in collision repair. What insurance companies do have are direct repair partner shops, known as DRP repair shops. We’ll explain that below.
The automobile industry has had massive change over the past few years, and a large reason for this is due to the advancements in the ways cars are built. The days of dropping your vehicle off at the shop, trusting that the technician would use the right tools and equipment in the repair process, are forever in the past. Today, every car comes with unique repair procedures laid out by your car’s manufacturer, known as OEM repairs.
With how many body shops are out there, you’d think they would all be after the safest and highest quality repairs. However, not all body shops are created equal. Some aren’t even equipped with the necessary tools and equipment for performing OEM repairs. Technicians need to have extensive training paid for by the body shop owner, so they can know how to properly repair a car. However, this training is not required, which is why most technicians will often get right to work on a repair “out of experience” rather than following OEM repairs. They do this, thinking it’ll save them time and money, but at the expense of your safety. These technicians assume because they repaired a thousand bumpers on a Honda Civic, this bumper repair on your Honda Civic won’t be any different.
As mentioned above, several auto body repair shops, specifically those that are part of a chain, are known as “direct-repair facilities,” or DRP for short. This means they have a contractual agreement with Insurance companies to perform fast repairs at a specified budget and deadline. These deadlines are usually impossible to meet, causing the technicians to cut corners in the repair process to save time. They run on the philosophy:
Faster repairs = happy Insurance company = more cars = more money.
Your insurance company will most likely encourage you to go to a DRP repair shop since these are shops they have an agreement with. They’ll even try to convince you, making it seem like the best option out there. Remember, YOU have the right to choose where you get your vehicle repaired.
You May Have The Choice Of Repair Parts
If the manufacturers had it their way for handling car repair, there would be no such thing as aftermarket parts. On the flip side, insurance companies wouldn’t want OEM parts. There are many auto body shops that feel the same way because aftermarket parts typically don’t fit the same way or have the same quality as simply using an OEM part. However, aftermarket parts are significantly cheaper, which is why you’ll see insurance companies insisting on using them.
Your policy will state what your coverage is and what parts are allowed during the repair process. You have the right to use OEM parts, even if your insurance policy does not cover them. In this case, you’ll most likely have to personally pay the difference, but it is the best option out there for your car (and of course, the safest). There is also pending legislation that could require the use of OEM parts in cars three years old and newer, but that bill will probably never get passed because doing so would raise insurance rates. Non-OEM parts could also affect the timing of specific sensors in the advanced safety features of your car, and much debate is being waged in the collision industry about this.
Currently, there is no law requiring a technician to follow OEM repair procedures and use OEM parts. Here in Pennsylvania, auto repair technicians aren’t even required to have a license to work on your car. This means they can do whatever they want in the repair process and not have a collision repair officer monitoring them. That’s a scary thought, especially when you don’t know where to go or who to trust.
Most states will require shops and/or insurers to inform a customer when something other than OEM parts are used. This is typically part of the repair process. There are also a few states that need your consent before using these parts. However, some states don’t require any disclosure or approval on behalf of the customer. This is why it’s critical to ask the body shop questions and to check your policy. Knowledge is power, and your safety should always be a top priority.
Check Your Policy. It Is Your Legal Contract
All states have their insurance coverage minimums, and every insurance policy is different, so you want to check with your policy to know what you’re entitled to and covered for. There are specific policies allow the use of OEM parts, depending on your provider. Others might have contingencies, such as how old the vehicle is or what needs to be repaired. Some might even specifically call for the shop to use parts that are “like kind and quality,” known as salvage parts. These are parts purchased from a nearby salvage yard and were previously used.
Certain repairs like a door or hood repair aren’t as critical in requiring OEM parts. However, salvage parts will almost always require repair of their own before they are “usable” for your car. They could need some metalwork and will definitely require paintwork, depending on the condition of the actual part. Merely using an OEM part would eliminate any potential problems like this in the repair process. This is why it’s critical to check your policy to know what you’re covered for.
Your Repair Shop Can Be Your Ally In Getting What You Are Owed.
Now you know that you have the right to choose where you get your car repaired. You also have the right to ask specific questions about how your vehicle will be repaired (such as parts, repair procedures, etc.). You can also ask a body shop about the technician’s training, and if a shop is “certified.” In case you didn’t know, a certified repair shop knows the importance of following OEM repair procedures and has highly trained technicians capable of handling any repair that comes into their shop.
Your body shop deals with insurance companies and claims all day every day, so they know how to assist you with what you are owed in an insurance claim. Your shop can also help you if you have received sub-par collision repair and are looking for help in getting your car re-repaired. Most body shops have dealt with this situation before, and a few shops will even perform a post-repair inspection on a car repaired by another shop. Often these PRI’s can help you sue for damages from the bad repair.
Why Trust Us
We at 3D Collision Centers know that Pennsylvania drivers are under enough stress dealing with the auto repair process. We are here to help with our team of highly skilled auto repair technicians who know the importance of following OEM repair procedures. In fact, our technicians are all I-CAR Gold Class certified, which is the highest level of certification an auto repair technician can receive.
We will work with you and your insurance company to make sure any question is answered and you have your car returned back to you in as little time as possible.
We have 7 different locations, conveniently located across Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery counties.
We look forward to hearing from you!