Getting into an accident is terrifying and flustering, especially in the moments afterward. Amid the chaos, you know that you have to deal with your insurance company and make a claim. But once that happens, what steps do you take to get your vehicle repaired? Sometimes, the process of post-accident repairs can seem like a maze, but when you know what options are available, it truly isn’t that difficult.
Using an Insurance Company Recommended Body Shop
You have completed the initial steps by communicating with the other drivers involved, collecting evidence, and speaking with the police. Either your car is towed or you drive it home. Now, you have to call your auto insurance provider. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who caused the accident or someone else. You should always contact your insurance provider to get the process started as quickly as possible.
After you get in touch with the insurance company, they will send out an inspector to look at the vehicle to see how much repairs will cost. There may be instances where the insurance provider requests that you send the car to an auto body repair shop. If you go to a shop, simply request an estimate. You don’t want to get started on the repairs right away.
After you have the estimate from the collision repair shop or adjuster, you now have options. You can either take your car to the insurance company-recommended body shop (also known as a direct repair program facility or DRP), or you can go somewhere else.
A DRP shop has connections with insurance companies, so that has some advantages:
- One-stop shop. Since direct repair programs are affiliated with insurers, that means you can take the car for an estimate, get it repaired, have a rental car in the meantime, and never have to worry about dealing with the claims process.
- Quick repairs and easy payments. The whole repair process is going to be streamlined and prioritized. You’ll have less paperwork to complete, and you won’t wait nearly as long for your car to be repaired.
- Quality standards. DRP facilities have been screened by the insurance company to meet a certain level of quality.
Reasons Not to Use a Direct Repair Program Shop
A direct repair facility sounds great, doesn’t it? You can have everything handled by the collision repair shop and the auto insurer, and you know for certain that you will have a rental car. So why would anyone want to go anywhere else? Turns out, there are plenty of reasons why you might not go to a DRP collision shop.
- Prior relationships. Since dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is hectic enough, you might not want to take your car to an unfamiliar repair shop. If you have a repair technician at the auto shop where you usually go who knows the history of the vehicle, that may be better. That technician may be able to find damages that someone unfamiliar with the vehicle would overlook.
- DRP shops do not use OEM parts. Many DRP shops use aftermarket car parts to reduce the cost of the repairs for the insurance company. While many aftermarket parts will function fine, they may not have the same level of quality as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. If you want parts designed specifically for your vehicle’s make and model, go with a collision repair shop that uses OEM parts.
How to Shop Around for a Body Shop
If you decide to choose the collision repair shop on your own, you shouldn’t choose the first body shop to show up on Google. Follow these tips:
Read Reviews and Get Recommendations
You may be able to ask friends, family, or even check an approved list from your insurer for trusted collision repair shops near you. You should also read online reviews about local auto body shops and mechanics.
Look for Industry Certifications
If you are considering getting OEM parts, make sure the shop you choose has the credentials for it. Look for certifications from the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), Automotive Service Association (ASA), and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). It also helps if the collision repair shop has been certified by specific manufacturers.
Shop for Several Estimates
Make a list of potential auto body shops and get an estimate from each one. There shouldn’t be a wide discrepancy in the estimates, though you might be able to find that some charge more or less, depending on what they provide. Keep in mind that the cheapest estimate isn’t always the smartest, since it could mean the auto body shop has missed damages or is not that experienced.
Whether you are going to a recommended shop or one that you found on your own, you want to know whether you can communicate with them. It is important to ask plenty of assessing questions, since the answers won’t only tell you about the auto body shop but also about customer service. You should be able to trust the person working on your vehicle.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Are your technicians certified?
- Do you use aftermarket or original equipment manufacturer parts?
- Is there a warranty available on the repairs?
- Is a rental car available and for how long?
- Do you have experience working on this type of vehicle?
- Your estimate is more/less expensive than others. Can you explain why?
Working with a collision repair shop doesn’t have to be frustrating or confusing, not when you find the right one. The best collision repair shop will work with you through the process and ensure that you get your vehicle repaired sooner than later. Ultimately, the choice of where you take your car is up to you, so make sure you are choosing an auto body shop with great reviews, certifications, and warranties.