The Truth About These 5 Automotive Repair Myths

We truly hope that you never have to deal with a collision repair; accidents can be scary, expensive, and stressful. But, if you are in an accident, we’re here to simplify the process so you’re prepared and you can get your car back to normal as quickly and stress-free as possible.

Let’s uncover some common collision repair myths so you understand the truth behind them.

1. You have to take your car to the repair shop your insurance company chooses.

Actually, your insurance company has no right whatsoever to demand that you use a specific repair shop. You have the right to choose and if your insurance company tells you otherwise, it’s called steering and it’s illegal.

They may make suggestions (you can always ask) but you are under no obligation to listen to your insurance company.

2. Only the dealership can fix your car like new again.

Auto repair and collision repair shops can access repair guides from the automotive manufacturer who made your car and often repair your vehicle just as well in less time or for less money.

Some dealerships may have great repair programs, but they can also be really pricey or focus on other aspects of business more than repairs.
3. Your insurance company always covers the cost of every repair.

Depending on your insurance policy, your insurance company may cover all of your repairs, they may cover some, or they may not cover them at all. If you have coverage called “collision coverage” as part of your policy, that’s usually where the details regarding repair of your vehicle are listed. Always ask your insurance company if you’re not sure.

4. You need three estimates before your insurance company will pay.

This is not true at all, one estimate is plenty. However, if you’re shopping around for the right collision repair shop, it might be in your best interest to get multiple estimates. Your insurance company will usually perform their own estimate once you choose a shop.

5. The insurance company’s estimate is always right and they won’t pay a penny more.

Your insurance company might negotiate with the repair shop if they think the estimate is too high; the end goal is to get a safe and affordable repair. However, the insurance company is required to pay according to your policy.

There are certain topics that every car owner should know when having their vehicle repaired. Taking your car to the repair shop isn’t generally something people are familiar with (because hopefully it doesn’t happen all that often!) But, if you are in an accident, it’s important that you know your rights as a consumer.

These consumer rights can help you ensure that your car is repaired correctly, safely, quickly, and within your budget.
You have the right to choose your own repair shop.

In most cases, when your car is in an accident, you can choose the shop you want to repair it. Ask your friends, have a quick Google, and look for local shops!

You can ask your insurance company for suggestions but if they’re telling you that you only have a few options, don’t believe them. This is called steering and in most states, it’s illegal.

You have the right to choose your repair parts.

If parts of your car need to be replaced, you can have a say in which parts are used!

Usually, you can choose from three kinds of parts: OEM, non-OEM, or recycled parts. However, depending on your insurance policy, only certain kinds of parts may be covered. (This doesn’t mean that’s your only option!) Each kind of part has unique benefits and costs so if you’re not sure, ask your repair tech or do a little research.

In many states, if a shop is going to use anything other than OEM parts, they’ll need to notify you. To be proactive, ask your repair shop before the repair.

You have the right to a safely and correctly repaired car.

When you take your vehicle to be repaired, you are paying for a service and you can rightfully expect that your vehicle will be repaired correctly and when repairs are completed, it will be returned to you in a safe condition for driving.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand how your car is repaired, what is being repaired, what is being replaced, and what to expect. You can ask about your technicians and their qualifications or experience, what they’re doing and why, and what your options are.

Get involved!

The first step in successful collision repair is knowing your rights. The next step is to get involved! When you’re choosing your repair shop, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A great repair shop will answer them and help you understand.

Following a car accident, the idea of finding the right collision repair shop can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Hopefully it’s a process that you don’t have much experience with (unless you work in the collision repair industry).

Remember that you have the right to select your collision repair shop and nobody, even your insurance company, can force you to use a specific shop. It can help to get a few estimates from different repair shops so you can find the right one for you. The following steps can help you with collision repair estimates.

Research and Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re speaking with representatives at the repair shops you’re considering. One sign of a great repair shop is one that is willing to explain what they do and what you’re paying them for. An estimate might take some time to create, but should include a breakdown of repairs, including the costs for parts and labor.

Consider more than the Total Cost

Remember that parts, labor, and overhead costs can vary from shop to shop. Higher costs do not necessarily mean better repairs or better parts. If you’re looking at shops in the same area and you find one that is a lot higher or lower than the others, ask why. Sometimes, different shops use different kinds of repair parts, and the parts you choose to use can affect the cost just as much as the shop’s location or labor charges.

Shops should always use the OEM repair guidelines, be willing to answer your questions, and have a record of good reviews.

Trust the Experts

While the Internet is a useful tool and it can help you find advice to get a great collision repair estimate, it is not an estimating tool. Every make and model has a specific set of  repair procedures created by the manufacturer, and only by following these procedures can an estimate or repair be done correctly. Access to these procedures isn’t free online, so you’ll need to take your car to a repair shop and have it examined by a professional. If possible, take it to more than one so you have something to compare your estimate to.

While your insurance company may have an estimator, they too need to look at your vehicle in order to correctly estimate the cost of repairs. It’s not a process that can be done remotely.

If you haven’t been in an accident before, the process, from collision to paid and repaired vehicle, can seem confusing. We’ve put together a simple list to help un-complicate the process for you.

The Accident

At the accident, make sure you do the following:

 

● Take photos of the scene, preferably before any of the vehicles have moved. If possible, you should clear the road soon after.
● Make sure everyone is okay. Call an ambulance.
● Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. This includes name, address, phone number, email address, insurance name and policy, etc.
● Contact the police. Get witness contact information and statements – the police may do this.
● Give your insurance company an unbiased account of what happened.

Towing

If your car is badly damaged, it may not be drivable after the accident. If you need a tow, it saves time and money to already have a repair shop selected. Remember – you don’t have to go to the shop your insurance company suggests! They are obligated to work with any repair shop of your choosing.

Estimates

An estimate will give you an approximate cost for repairs to your vehicle. Your insurance company may decide that your car is totaled if the cost of repairs is more than the value of the vehicle. An estimate shouldn’t take long, and you shouldn’t need an appointment.

Repair Appointment

Once you, the repair shop, and the insurance company have agreed on repairs, you can schedule a repair appointment at the shop of your choosing. You’ll have to sign a form to authorize the repairs, and you may owe your insurance company a deductible depending on your policy.

The cost of repairs will depend on the insurance policy you have. Damages caused in the accident should be covered by a collision policy. If you’re in a state that assigns fault and the accident was your fault, you will need collision coverage to cover the cost of your vehicle and not just the other vehicle. If the accident wasn’t your fault, the other party’s insurance company should pay for your repairs. If their insurance doesn’t cover enough, or if the other party doesn’t have coverage, you’ll need to pay out of pocket or have an uninsured/underinsured motorist package included in your policy. Check with your insurance company if you aren’t sure. Your insurance policy may also cover a rental car during repairs, but it depends on the policy you have.

Car Pick-Up

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your repair. When you pick up your car, it should be in the same condition it was in prior to the accident.