The insurance company selected a specific body shop to repair my car but I prefer another. What are my rights?
You’ll probably lose this one.
You are entitled to have your car restored as nearly as possible to its pre-wreck condition, but your insurance company can direct you to a shop it feels does good work and is cost efficient. You can ask them to use your mechanic. If it is important enough to you, you can even offer to pay the difference in price.
Ultimately, you are at the mercy of the insurer. You will have a better chance convincing them if your shop of choice is not owned by a relative.
The first step is finding an auto body shop that will fix your car to look like the collision never happened. Some good auto body shops will only have the ability to fix your car to a point called pre-loss condition. Pre-loss condition is when the mechanic fixes your cars appearance, body structure, and keeps your cars mechanical reliability.
Next comes customer service, our favorites. Everyone has horror stories about bad customer service in numerous places of business. However, if you are calling an auto body shop that means that lives were once in danger so they should immediately ask if anyone was injured. Their chance at making money should never overshadow your needs or concerns. Many body shops are only in the business because they know that everyone will need to have their car repaired at some point. Most of those businesses do not have a skilled and knowledgeable staff. That is why it is so vital to find the right body shop so you and your insurance company are getting what you have paid for.
When dealing with your insurance company, make sure that you fight for the right to pick your own repair shop. Most insurance companies and repair shops have a deal worked out to lower the shops cost in exchange for giving them business. The shop then cuts corners and leave out steps to keep the cost down. This in turn means you are paying the insurance company the inflated premiums and your deductible but are only receiving second rate repair. The insurance company may respond saying that they can not guarantee the work of other shops but in reality all good shops guarantee their work for as long as you own that car. If a shop says that they do not have that standard, it is a sign to keep looking.
Always ask the person who is estimating your damage questions. If you are working with a smaller shop the person you are speaking with will probably be the one working directly on your car. In larger chain shops they have sales people who do the estimates and have no direct connection or knowledge about your car. The techs working on your car may not want to rewrite you an estimate to make it the correct amount. Never be afraid to ask questions if you are confused. Larger shops may have fancy equipment and tools to make people believe that they are much more advanced then other shops but in reality, those fancy tools are rarely even used in fixing your car.
Always ask the body shop about their insurance programs or DRP (direct repair programs) because this may mean they can not create their own business and need the help of a deal. Not all shops that have these programs are bad shops but it can defiantly be a red flag.