Q: How do I know I have found a quality collision repair facility?
A: Ask the owner or manager about the kind of training the technicians have. Technicians should be National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified, and/or Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) trained. Also, ask the owner or manager if they are active members of a local trade association, career advisory committee, or a member of the local chamber of commerce. Ask if they provide a written warranty of their service and for how long. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against the business.
Q: How many estimates do I have to obtain?
A: You have to convince the insurance company that the cost of repairs is reasonable. You do not have to get a certain number of estimates.
Q: Do I have the right to select the shop that will repair my car?
A: Yes. No one else may dictate to you where you have your vehicle repaired.
Q: Do I have to accept used parts?
A: If you have a new automobile, no. If your car is several years old and appropriate used parts are available, then in certain instances, repair with used parts may be justified. Ask your collision repair professional for advice about whether used parts should be placed on your vehicle.
Q: What about parts that were not manufactured by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)?
A: Insurance companies generally like to pay for the non-OEM parts, called imitation or aftermarket parts, because they are often less expensive; however, policies indemnify or pay to cover a loss and bring the vehicle back to its preloss condition. Only a small percentage of non-OEM parts are certified by CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) for fit and finish, and there has even been a controversy surrounding CAPA, which has been funded by the insurance industry since its inception in 1987. If a choice of parts diminishes the value of the vehicle, it is not returning the vehicle to its preloss condition and, therefore, is not fulfilling the obligation of the policy.
Q: Must I notify my insurance company before repairs are performed on my vehicle?
A: Yes. Insurance policies require that you notify the insurance company or your agent, make a report, and tell them where the damaged vehicle may be inspected.
Q: Who pays the repair bill?
A: You must arrange for payment. Your insurance policy states that your insurer will pay you, less any deductibles or depreciation.
Q: What should I do if I have a problem with the repair?
A: First contact the owner or manager of the collision repair facility. If your problem is not resolved after that step, contact the local collision repair trade association if the facility is a member, your insurance company claims manager, the Better Business Bureau, and the consumer protection division of your local Attorney General’s office.