My agent says I have to use a shop on the insurance company's list of shops.

No you don’t. A lot of the shops on the insurance companies’ lists have agreed to concessions in order to be on the so-called “list” of approved shops. The best shops are usually not on the insurance lists because they won’t cut corners, and legally you can choose any shops you want to repair your vehicle. The shops they often recommend are on a sort of “HMO” for collision repair. They set the deal for how your car will be fixed long before you ever got into an accident. Discounts or kickbacks, used parts, imitation parts, skipped procedure and more are often used in these programs. All this is in exchange fir getting you to go to their shop. And if you have a problem keep in mind the shop and Insurance Company have a business relationship that makes them stick together. Good luck getting help from either if you have a problem with one of them, beware if an insurance representative that tries to get you to go to a shop and states they are on a special program with them. Think HMO for collision repair.

My insurance agent says they will look out for my best interests.

People often refer to their agents as “My agent”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The agent works for the insurance company, that is why they are called insurance agents not Customer agents. Inside insurance companies they are referred to as producers. These agents produce you money to the big insurance company. Insurance agents are paid by the insurance companies; their pay is based on the money they send in and the losses that go along with it. As soon as you have an accident you are affecting their pay. Some differences do apply to different companies. Ask your agent how he gets paid and you will get a better insight to where his concerns lie. Also most agents must meet a certain quota to continue selling insurance for major insurance companies; you may get a policy with a company to meet a quota, not because it is a good value for you. A good agent will be your best defense against bad insurance companies and being under or over insured. A bad agent will sell you what he or she wants based on a commission with no regard for your needs. Choose an agent based on their reputation, reputations are earned not bought. Don’t be fooled by thinking all insurance companies are the same, unless you do homework you will not know how good your choice is until you have an accident. Ask your chosen body shop what insurance companies are good, they deal with them every day unless you get in accidents weekly, you don’t.

The shop that wrote the lowest estimate is the one my Insurance Company says I should use.

No way. Never go with the lowest estimate. The reason your insurance company wants the lowest estimate is to try to save them money, but you have to ask yourself this question, what did they miss or leave off to make the estimate lower? Many shops write low estimates on purpose to get work in the door then turn in a large supplement bill to you and your insurance company.

My Insurance Company says I have to use XYZ auto body to repair my car.

No you don’t. This is called steering. This means that you insurance company is trying to dictate where you are to have your vehicle repaired. In Rhode Island this is illegal your insurance company can’t tell you where to take your vehicle this is your decision to choose the shop you want to do the repairs.

My Insurance Company is looking out for my best interest, I should be OK, right?

Don’t bet on it! The only interest your insurance company is looking out for is their own. The cheaper the repair is, the more money they save. They could care less if you have your vehicle fixed right, as long as you aren’t complaining about it to them, there are a lot of insurance companies getting sued right now for trying to rip off their customers and cut corners on repairs. Insurance companies are in the business of money management not fixing cars. This is their business and they are good at it. Your best interests are not factored into their bottom line, but your claim expenses are.

What is a Direct Repair Shop or DRP?

DRP stands for Direct Repair Program. Most insurance companies have a DRP program set up with many body shops all over the country. In order for a shop to get on an insurance companies preferred DRP list, they must agree to concessions that the insurance company may want. In exchange for the concessions, the insurance companies agree to send the shop customers that don’t know where they want to go for their repairs.

The bad part of getting your vehicle repaired by a DRP shop is that the concessions the shop has agreed to may include using aftermarket or used parts, cheaper materials, and skipping certain procedures. The DRP shops try to save the insurance companies money by using any short cuts the insurance companies’ demand, so the insurance companies will send them more business.

The only good part about using a DRP shop to repair your vehicle is that you just drop off your vehicle and the shop does all the dealing the with insurance company, you are kept intentionally out of the loop on how your car will be repaired and will get the repairs done the way the insurance company mandates. Would you rather skip a little bit of involvement, or have your vehicle repaired correctly with your best interest in mind? Remember the diminished value we talked about earlier?

Beware if the insurance company tries to tell you what shop to go to, this is called steering and illegal in most states. The only way to assure yourself of a quality repair is to choose the shop yourself; it’s your right, not the insurance companies. DRP’s only help the insurance companies to save money, not their customers to get better repairs. It’s your choice, not theirs!

Can you save me my deductible?

Some shops use this tactic to prey on unknowing customers to make them think they are going to give them a deal. These shops imply they will overcharge the insurance company for your benefit. Why in the world would you trust this shop not to rip you off also? Your insurance company is smarter than you think when it comes to collision repairs; they handle thousands of claims every year they are not giving up a dime that is not owed to you.

The shop will overcharge on the repair, but the person they overcharge will be you with one of the methods I mentioned earlier. Even worse is you gave them the permission to steal. Who will you complain to after you did not pay a $250 deductible but they shortchanged you $2,000 worth of parts?

The result of this deal will be felt when you sell the vehicle and everyone looking it over knows it was involved in an accident, your vehicles value is sure to fall more than the $250 you saved. Worse if the repairs start to fall apart before you sell your vehicle you may have to pay someone else to do it all over. At Reliable Collision many times we are able to save your deductible because of work efficiency and our parts volume purchasing power. Reliable will never sacrifice quality when saving your deductible.

I received a lower estimate from another shop, how could that be?

Be careful when looking for a shop to do your repair and don’t get pressured to sign any repair order until you have taken the time to investigate the shop. Many shops will write a low estimate on purpose to get work in the door by deceiving people to get the job, they turn in a large repair supplement after the car is stuck in the shop to get more money. These shops don’t really care about anything but money. A good shop will always write an itemized and complete estimate only after careful inspection. Good shops will look carefully at the damage and tell you in advance if disassembly is needed to write an estimate.