In Missouri and Illinois, you have the right to choose where your vehicle gets repaired after an accident. You do not have to go with the “recommended” providers of the insurance company if you prefer to take your vehicle to a repair shop you know and trust.
Most insurance companies carry a contract with different repair shops in your area. There are some benefits to choosing the insurance company’s repair shop, but there may also be some disadvantages.
Benefits of Insurance Repair Contracts
The insurance company may negotiate lower labor and material costs with contracted shops and the shop will have to meet the insurance company’s training and equipment requirements. Insurance companies also require their contracted shops to provide a lifetime warranty.
What the Insurance Company Might Tell You About Accident Repairs
The insurance company wants claim reps to get at least 40% of their claims to go to their own contracted repair shops, which is why a claims rep will always try to talk you out of picking your own repair shop. They will tell you that the shop you want is not contracted with them, and that they won’t be able to handle your claim as efficiently as with their own contracted shop. They may tell you that it will take a week before an adjuster will be available to do an estimate on your car. They may even go as far as telling you that their company will not warranty the repairs if you don’t use their contracted shop.
The Truth About Choosing Your Own Repair Shop
Do not be intimidated by the insurance company’s stipulations. They may make recommendations about which repair shop you choose, but you are not required to take your vehicle to a contracted shop.
The truth is that most reputable body repair shops will be genuinely interested in handling your claim and repairs in an efficient and timely manner. Shop estimators are also likely to be familiar with your insurance company’s claims process and they know the local adjusters. This makes it easy to complete the estimate and repairs as fast as possible. As for the threat of not covering work under an insurance warrantee, a good shop will usually provide a lifetime warranty on their work regardless of who is paying for the repairs.
The Choice is Yours to Make
Here’s the bottom line. Whether you choose the insurance company’s contracted shop or you choose your own, it is important that you choose one that you feel confident in and trust. You can ask your friends or family what they recommend, or you can choose one you know that you have dealt with in the past. You can also search through body shop reviews on line.
Talk to and visit several shops and get estimates. Think about the following while you shop around:
- Does the shop provide a lifetime warranty?
- Do they have experience with your make and model of car?
- How long have they been doing business?
- Have they worked with your insurance company in the past?
No repair shop can hold a contract with all of the insurance companies. If the shop you pick isn’t on the list provided by your insurance company, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad choice.
Do your research and choose the repair shop that feels best for you. After you’ve decided where you want to go, let your insurance company know and tell them your reasons for choosing the provider. In the end, the insurance company will probably just want to make sure you’re happy with your coverage and repairs.