Insurance companies have begun buying or investing their monies into car repair businesses in recent years. Insurance companies that own car repair shops can result in the consumer getting bad service and substandard replacement parts. Many people in the car repair industry have complained of being pressured by insurance companies that own them to keep costs down, and if they do not, they risk losing referrals.
Vehicle owners also have rights when getting their cars repaired following a collision. This applies to regular maintenance repairs as well.
The Automobile Service Association (ASA) suggests that car owners ask insurance companies the following when shopping for an auto body repair shop following a collision.
Do I have to get three estimates?
This is a standard procedure among insurance companies, but in reality you do NOT have to get three estimates. This is only an option and NOT a requirement that puts the burden on the car’s owner to get the cheapest price.
Can I choose any repair shop?
Yes. You have the right to choose any auto body shop you like, and any attempt to direct you to a particular shop should raise some suspicions. Many times, the dealership does not have an auto body repair shop, and the vehicle’s owner is referred to one with whom they have a contract. It is not required that they have one.
How can I ensure that they are going to fix my car with quality parts?
Any parts used other than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) car parts must be disclosed in writing by the insurance company. It is up to the owner to agree if the insurance company will install other market parts, rather than be pressured to use OEM parts. In some states, this disclosure is not required.
The ASA recommends the following advice for vehicle owners to maintain their car:
- Always check your owner’s manual for regular maintenance schedules. A good rule of thumb is to change the oil and filter once every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
- Check all fluids including brake, transmission, washer, power steering, and antifreeze. These fluids are necessary for the safety and performance of your vehicle.
- Check tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can waste gas. This is the cheapest form of preventive and safety maintenance. Check tire pressure once a month.