Auto Body Repair Shop - 10 Tips After A Car Accident

If you have typed in auto body repair shop, its likely you have are searching because you were in a car accident. This is often a very stressful time and hopefully this page will answer some vital questions and help you get your car taken care of so you can be back on your way.

Declaring damage to your car from an accident will NOT cause your insurance rates to go up if you did not cause the accident.

Who Pays For The Car Repair?

The Other Driver Was At Fault

  • If the at fault driver has insurance, your car repair is paid for by their insurance. No deductible will apply.
  • The other driver has some insurance, but not enough: in this case your own collision or underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage will pay the remainder of your car repair. If you have a deductible on your own insurance, this will be paid by you first, before the insurance pays for the repair.
  • The other driver has no insurance: all auto body repair shop now goes through your own coverage, either your collision or your underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. Your deductible will apply.

You Caused The Accident

  • Your collision coverage will pay for your vehicle repairs. If you do not have collision coverage, then auto body repair comes out of your pocket.
  • If you hit another car, the other drivers insurance will bill your insurance for the repairs to their vehicle, you will have to do paperwork, but likely not much else, this is all handled through the insurance company.

Do I need more than one estimate?

I believe if you have the time you should get more than one estimate. The estimate is not just about the numbers. The estimate is the opportunity for you to see the shop, ask about what kind of parts the shop is going to use (more on this in a moment), how long it will take them to repair your car etc.

We had a client who had damage to the radiator, and hood of her car. The repair facility took 4 weeks to repair the car. This 4 weeks was a huge hardship for her, and an unusually long period of time to do a repair.

Had she known in advance that things would take this long, she would have chosen a different auto body repair shop.

Does the shop guarantee the work? For how long?

This is critical. Only use an auto body repair shop that guarantees the work. We had a client who had her car repaired after someone crashed into the side of the car. She thought things were ok after the repairs were finished. A week later the drivers door would not close properly.

It turned out she had frame damage the shop had not identified when they repaired her car. A guarantee from the shop will make such a discovery much easier to deal with. The guarantee should always be in writing on your own paperwork that the shop gives you to keep.

The insurance company suggested I go to their auto body repair shop, can I trust them?

All insurance companies have what are called “DRP” or Direct Repair Programs. These are auto body repair shops have contracts with the insurance companies. These shops are expected to be able to return your car to “Pre-Loss” condition, and this shop works easily with your insurance company. Working with this type of shop usually means you have less paperwork, and less stress.

However, it’s also just as important to understand that shops that are not part of the Direct Repair Program can provide just as high a level service.

If you are not planning on getting your car fixed, but instead are planning to have estimates done of the repairs and then use the funds from the insurance company in other ways, an auto body repair shop which is contracted with your insurance company will likely give you the lowest estimate. Not because you are not getting your car fixed, but because these shops work hard to keep costs as low as possible so they stay in the good graces of the insurance companies.

We highly recommend that if it is possible you get more than one estimate on the repairs your vehicle is going to need.

Should you get your car repaired or keep the check?

This is a very common question. This is how to think about it. If you car is worth a fair amount of money in the market, then getting it repaired means you will be able to sell your car for the best price someday.

If your car is not worth much, except to you, then having a dent or scratch may not be such a big deal.

A friend of mine had an older subaru station wagon. It was his camping car and his extra vehicle for when it was raining too intensely to ride his motorcycle.

He was involved in a hit and run which damaged the back panel of the car. He reported the accident to his insurance company as he was injured. The insurance company valued the damage at $2000.00. The car was worth probably $5000.00 on the market. Because of the way he used his car, he chose to keep the $2000.00, and not repair the panel.

You are not required to repair a car you own. If you have a loan on the car, you do not yet own it, and the bank will require you to keep the car repaired.

The auto body repair shop wants to repair my car with non-factory parts. Can they do this?

Yes, as long as the repairs restore the vehicle to the value of the car before the accident. The parts used do not have to be original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, but should be of like kind and quality as the parts being replaced.

What you need to know is: who guarantees the parts if they fail? If the part is a factory part, likely your insurance company will guarantee these parts as long as you own the car.

If the parts are after-market non-factory parts, then the parts may only be guaranteed by the manufacturer of the parts, which may mean you have no guarantee the parts have any warranty at all.

Also, it is very important to know whether the after market parts have crash worthiness testing, as the original or factory parts are required to do.

Ask your insurance company about what guarantees they will give you on these parts.

When my brother dented his car on that “invisible” cement post (which obviously was not there when he parked! ) he took the car to two different repair shops.

The direct repair program shop his insurer told him to go to gave him an estimate of $500. He also took the car to an independent shop. This shop said it would be closer to $2500.

Why the radical difference? The difference was based on what kind of parts the first shop was planning to put onto his vehicle.

The first shop had located a bumper from a salvage yard and the second shop was planning on using a new bumper. The salvage yard bumper had no warranty nor crash worthiness assessment. It was simply a used bumper for cheap.

Need to speak to an attorney? Free evaluation of your claim here.

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Michelle was just in a car accident. 3/28/2013

I will be writing about my experience in real time, read along, or check in now and again. I will be posting about my pain treatments, and you can send questions about your own accident at any time for me to include.

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