If you’ve been in a car accident, chances are you’ll have to go through your insurance company to get any damage repaired. However, dealing with your car insurance company can often be almost as frustrating and stressful as the accident itself.
While you’re trying to get everything back to normal as soon as possible, your insurance company seems to be totally focused on how to spend as little as possible.
Part of this can be the company recommending a cheap car repair shop; one that you don’t know and don’t trust.
What most people don’t know is that you don’t have to use this repair shop. You can use whichever one you trust to do the job right.
Why do insurance companies have preferred car body repair shops?
You might be thinking that any shop recommended by your insurance provider must be reputable and able to carry out high-quality repairs. After all, surely your insurance company has your best interests at heart.
Well, not exactly.
What insurance companies are really looking for in their body shop of choice is someone that is going to do the bare minimum repairs necessary. When it comes down to it, the fewer things that are fixed, the less they charge the insurance company.
Preferred repair shops might even give the insurance companies discounted rates. This is often why they are preferred, and not because they offer good repairs.
That’s not to say that every repair shop your insurance company recommends is low-quality. Sometimes, your insurance company will have a preferred shop that’s got amazing reviews for high-quality repairs and stellar customer service. However, that’s probably not why they picked them.
You should always do your homework and research your options thoroughly. Finding a body repair shop that you can trust is really important, and you should make sure that your needs are being met over the insurance company’s.
It can’t be that bad! What happens if I do use a preferred car body repair shop?
If you’re not sure about a body shop’s credibility, our advice is to simply choose another.
If you go with the first preferred body shop that your insurance provider recommends, they may simply be out to make their money from insurance and to cut corners getting there. They are also usually under a lot of time pressure, as to get the full payment from the insurance company, they must get the job done in a certain amount of time so that the company doesn’t have to pay for a rental car for too long.
This may sound like a good thing, but this could lead to them rushing to get the job done even when it should take longer. That means cutting corners.
For example, if they can get away with not replacing a damaged part, they might simply not repair it. Or, perhaps even worse, they might replace damaged parts with lower quality replacements.
Each part of your car or van has an Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) recommended part. Specifically, it’s the part that your vehicle manufacturer makes just for your car. When you first got your shiny new car, it had all the OEM parts.
The problem with dodgy repair shops replacing your OEM parts with aftermarket parts is that these parts haven’t been tested on your vehicle. This could lead to safety issues and could void any warranty on your vehicle. The worst part is that you probably wouldn’t know until it were too late.
Should this happen, this would be a violation of your insurance policy, which likely states that they should repair your car to its pre-accident condition.
Know your rights
If you don’t feel comfortable with the insurance recommended car body repair shop you can typically reject it and take it to your preferred car body repair shop. Unless there is a specific clause in your insurance policy that states you must use one of their recommended repair shops you are free to go wherever you prefer. Most insurance policies DO NOT have this clause.
If your policy doesn’t include this clause you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Insurance Act 2015. Don’t get pushed around by your insurance company. Know your rights and stick to them.
What protection do you have as a consumer?
Luckily, there’s a lot of laws in place to protect you, the customer.
Except in extremely rare cases, your insurance company legally cannot force you to go to any repair shop. This is because they cannot coerce or mislead a customer into making a choice they wouldn’t have made otherwise. They might try to persuade you to go to their preferred body shop, but you can refuse if you wish.
You should also be aware of the following:
- Insurance companies attempting to raise your excess if you pick your own body repair shop – this is illegal. You are protected under https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/2083/regulation/5/made and https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/UNFCOG/1/3.html
- Going to an unauthorized body repair shop might make it take longer to process your claims – whilst this is true, if you’re using a reputable shop that is used to handling insurance claims then it shouldn’t take any longer than any of their preferred car body repair shops. Just make sure you use a company used to processing insurance claims.
We all know how stressful it can be when you’ve had an accident and damaged your vehicle. Luckily, in most cases, your insurance company will cover the cost of accident repairs, taking at least a little of the stress away.
As long as you remember that you can choose a repair shop that suits you, you should be able to have the damage repaired quickly, easily, and to a high standard.