FREQUENTLY ASKED: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COLLISION ESTIMATES, REPAIRS & INSURANCE
Can The Insurance Company Force Me To Use Their Preferred Shop?
No. This is called insurance steering. Insurer steering happens when your insurance company tries to persuade you to use a specific repair shop through their Direct Repair Program. This is a contract between a body shop and an insurer to provide reduced repair costs using aftermarket parts that are not genuine OEM parts. This can compromise your vehicle’s safety and lead to costly corrective repairs after the fact. Some insurance companies even have a stake in ownership or have contractual agreements that include concessions that are not in your best interest as a driver. Remember- Only you can approve who carries out your repairs. Mike Smith’s Automotive Collision Center goes to bat regularly for our clients to ensure your repairs are done right, and your vehicle is restored to safe driving conditions. We never cut corners with your safety.
What if my insurance company’s appraisal is less than your estimate?
Most insurers write a low estimate to begin with, and they will tell you once the car is under repair, your shop can request a supplement. That’s our job, no need to worry. Once the car is in our shop for repairs, we will renegotiate with the adjuster to make sure the insurance company allows us to restore your car to pre-accident condition to the highest degree possible.
What type of parts do you use?
We always recommend using new OEM parts, however these are generally more expensive than used or aftermarket parts. Unless your insurance coverage includes an OEM Parts Endorsement you can expect the insurer to always specify cheaper parts. Insurers can’t require non-OEM parts unless they are equivalent to OEM parts. Someone has to demonstrate to the insurer that specified aftermarket parts are not equivalent to OEM parts. That’s where Mike Smith’s Automotive Collision Center steps in and advocates for your best interests, so you don’t have to.
What am I entitled to?
Generally, when you’re having your car repaired you’re entitled to an itemized written estimate from your chosen shop for repairs that you must authorize in order to commence work. Once repairs are underway, you also have the right to authorize any additional repairs and costs before that work is started.
When using insurance you’re entitled to having your car repaired back to pre-loss condition. If your insurance company is paying for repairs then some items may be limited to specific policy provisions. Even if you’re not at fault, and the at fault insurance company is paying for repairs there still may be some limitations as to what is and isn’t covered
Why do I have to authorize work even if insurance is paying?
By law, our shop repairs your car for you (the consumer) and the insurance company is not involved in that contract. We make sure you know how the car is being repaired (and that the insurance company has agreed to pay for it) before the onset of the repair process.
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Your Automotive Bill Of Rights
Mike Smiths Automotive Collision Center in Dothan, AL, wants you to be satisfied and your car to be repaired correctly. We will help you deal with your insurance company, but we do not work for them. You are the customer, and we will help you obtain the best repair possible!
- You are not required by law to get more than one estimate.
- You may have the shop of your choice make the repairs. You are not required to use a shop selected by an insurance adjuster or any shop recommended by any insurance company. These shops are called DRP shops, or shops who participate in a direct repair program. The insurance company’s direct or steer work to them in exchange for certain discounts.
- Keep in mind insurance company’s sell insurance, they do not repair cars.
- We are the repair experts, not your insurance company. We specialize in repairing your vehicle, while insurance specializes in getting you covered. When pressed, every insurance company will admit to this in court and in front of a judge.
- All liability of the repair lies on the shop.
- Insurance companies do not provide the guarantees on repairs, your repair shop does. Do not be fooled when they say they will not guarantee the repair if you do not take your car to their DRP shop. An insurance company cannot guarantee the repair, and they never will be able to guarantee a repair.
- Only you can select a repair facility and authorize repairs on your vehicle.
- There are many laws that govern the repair of automobiles including the fair and proper treatment of consumers. Insurance companies and DRP’s try to side-step these laws or blatantly disregard their existence.
- Repair estimates will vary! Some estimates may use inferior parts, imitation or even junkyard parts. Your insurance company may even say you must accept these parts when in reality you may not be required to do so.
- A lower estimate may not include all the things needed to properly repair your car.
- Many estimates are often unfairly written low by insurance co.’s and DRP shops because they have been instructed to do so by the insurance co. Many people only take the money and never have the car repaired. This is called cashing out. Insurance co.’s are betting you will just take what they offer and go away.
- An estimate whether written by the insurance co. or the repair shop is really only a starting point for the repair. Any differences between the original estimate and final bill are itemized on a supplement. Insurance co.’s expect supplements when you have your car repaired.
- Many insurance co. appraisers and adjusters have absolutely no experience. Either in their own professional or in the fields of automotive repair.
- An insurance adjuster’s job is to see that the contract or policy is followed and complied with. They are to protect the insurance company against fraud, and are the one’s who help determine the settlement.
- An insurance appraiser’s primary purpose is to take photos and make notes for the adjustment file. Be sure you always point out all the damage you are aware of. If you don’t, it may not be considered or worse yet considered prior unrelated damage.
- In order for an adjuster to make any determination or judgements beyond your truthful proof of loss, he must by law inspect the vehicle with his own eyes. An adjuster must also provide a statement in writing why a claim or portion of a claim is being denied.
- The only reason an insurance co. needs to inspect the damage is to verify coverage or liability issues. They write estimates in an attempt to place a value on the loss in terms of money and to attempt to control their loss price with a shop who has never even seen the car.
- Keep in mind repairers do not have the right to negotiate a settlement for you. A DRP shop works for the insurance company first, not you. A DRP takes on the role of appraiser and often times the unofficial and illegal role of adjuster.
- The insurance company adjusters and appraisers are professional negotiators. They know every trick in the book. Many insurance representatives are trained and get paid to use these tricks against you.
Remember, insurance companies do not repair cars; they pay for your losses in money. Mike Smiths Automotive Collision Center in Dothan, AL will work closely with you to minimize your inconvenience and maximize your satisfaction. It’s your car; make sure it is repaired to your satisfaction!