Be Weary of Insurance Company “Preferred” Auto Repair Shops
Don’t let insurance companies sway you into using a preferred auto repair shop after an accident. These shops sometimes improperly fix cars in an effort to save money, sometimes putting your safety at risk. If you’re suffering after visiting one of these shops, call an Ohio car accident attorney at Kisling, Nestico & Redick for help today.
Preferred Auto Repair Shops
Following an incident that damages your vehicle, whether it was a collision, vandalism, or a natural event, you have the right to choose which automotive repair shop fixes your car. You can choose the repair shop, and only you can officially authorize any work to your vehicle. Your insurer, even if it is covering the cost of the repairs, cannot dictate where you go or when repairs can occur. That being said, most insurers will steer you toward certain shops, known as preferred auto repair shops. State Farm calls is their Select Service Program, Nationwide calls it The On Your Side Auto Repair Network, and GEICO calls it their Auto Repair Express. The insurers claim these shops offer efficient, professional repairs at competitive rates. Unfortunately, those claims may be far from the truth.
If you were pushed by an insurer toward a preferred auto repair shop after a car accident and ended up with shoddy work and additional expenses, you need to speak with an attorney. Contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick to discuss your rights, including your options if your claim is still open and whether the insurer may have acted in bad faith. You can use our online form or call 1-800-HURT-NOW to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Ohio car accident attorneys.
Auto Body Shop Insurance Coverage
Whether or not your insurance covers property damage to your vehicle depends on your policy and what happened to cause the damage.
Ohio law requires you to carry at least $25,000 in property damage in case you are in an accident. If another driver causes your vehicle damage, then that driver’s property damage liability policy covers your repairs. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or has too little insurance to cover the damage, then you would need uninsured/underinsured coverage from your own insurer to pick up the tab.
A typical property damage policy does not cover the damage you cause your vehicle or which occurs because of vandalism or natural disasters. If you want property damage to be covered when you cause damage to your own vehicle, then you need collision coverage. This type of policy pays for damages to your own vehicle, including in the event you cause the problem, such as running into an object.
Comprehensive coverage pays for repairs when something other than a collision causes your vehicle damage, such as a weather event, a break in, hitting a deer, or vandalism like being egged. Comprehensive coverage can go by other names, but it is intended to cover repairs for situations other than accidents.
When your vehicle is damaged and there is an applicable insurance policy, you will need to work closely with an insurance adjuster to get your vehicle repaired and the costs paid for. It is during this process that an insurer will try and steer you toward using one of their preferred auto repair shops.
What You Need to Understand About Preferred Auto Repair Shops
Preferred Shops Are Not Intended to Benefit You
To put it simply, having a preferred shops list saves insurers money. Your insurance company will push you toward a preferred repair shop because they know it will reduce how much they have to pay out for your vehicle’s repairs.
The auto repair shops on the list have come to an agreement with the insurance company. They will make repairs on your vehicle within the scope and monetary limit dictated by the insurer – not dictated by your vehicle’s needs. In return for working within the insurer’s parameters, the insurer continuously sends work the repair shop’s way. While the shop may charge less on individual cases, overall they obtain more work and a greater profit. It is theoretically a win-win situation for the insurer and auto repair shop. It is not intended to benefit you or other vehicle owners, despite what the insurer may say.
The Potential Dangers of Using Preferred Shops
Insurance companies and others may argue there are advantages to preferred auto repair shops. However, there are a number of potential problems with this system.
- Your insurer dictates the scope of the repair work instead of an experienced mechanic. In most situations, the insurer will approve a narrower scope of work than is best for your vehicle.
- Because the preferred shops are guaranteed more cases in the future, a mechanic is more likely to accept an insurer’s limited repair scope, even if they disagree.
- Mechanics have reduced profit margins because of insurer’s limited scope, which pushes them to utilize cost-saving measures like using secondhand, salvaged, cheaper, or counterfeit parts.
- Shops may hire less experienced, inadequately trained, and uncertified workers to reduce labor costs.
- Shops will want to work on your vehicle for as brief of a time as possible, which means they may skip certain minor repairs or make quick and shoddy repairs.
- Low-cost repairs could leave your vehicle “fixed” yet not roadworthy.
The dangers of preferred auto repair shops is not new. The situation has been the subject of private and public investigations in the past. It has also led to legal claims in more than one situation, and a number of states are trying or have attempted to enact legislation against steering by insurance companies.
How Insurers May Try to Sway You
Insurance companies will use a number of thinly veiled threats to get you to use one of their preferred auto repair shops, such as:
- A non-preferred shop has not been vetted by the insurer to meet certain standards.
- The insurer will not be able to handle your claim efficiently with a non-preferred shop.
- The insurer will need extra days or more than one week to get an adjuster on your claim.
- Repairs and the claim may take longer.
- The insurer cannot offer a lifetime warranty on the repairs.
While these statements may not be technical lies, they are not as problematic as an insurance adjuster will make them seem. There are likely a number of reputable repair shops in your area that are not on the insurer’s list. Many reputable shops offer their own lifetime warranty on the repairs. Additionally, auto repair shops are well aware of insurance claim procedures. It is in the shop’s best interest to handle your claim efficiently, and your insurer cannot delay your claim simply because you chose a non-preferred vendor. Doing so could constitute acting in bad faith and break the law.
Ohio Legislature Tried to Prevent Steering
During the 2013-14 legislative session, two Ohio representatives introduced House Bill (HB) 526, which was intended to prevent insurers from manipulating vehicle owners into using preferred shops. HB 526 would bar insurers from requiring an insured person to use a specific repair shop and from recommending particular shops, unless the individual asks for recommendations. If an auto insurer participated in either prohibited activity, they would be guilty of an unfair and deceptive act or practice. This would have created civil liability and provided you with a method of holding the insurer responsible in court and compensating you for any damages it caused you. However, like anti-steering efforts in other states, HB 526 died in committee.
Finding a Reputable Auto Repair Shop in Ohio
There are numerous reputable, non-preferred auto repair shops in Ohio, including Three-C Body Shop. Three-C is a member of CollisionFix, a group of high-quality collision centers across the U.S., which all offer lifetime warranties on their work. Three-C guarantees they use all original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, not used, salvaged, or counterfeit parts. They guarantee manufacturer certifications, ensuring you obtain high-quality repairs by well trained employees. Factory certifications mean one or more employees at the shop have specific training and experience, qualifying them to work on specific makes and models of vehicles. It is a clear sign that the shop takes making repairs seriously and will not cut corners.
When it comes to choosing a repair shop for your vehicle, it never hurts to ask around. Get recommendations from friends and family. Look up potential repair shops on Yelp, Angie’s List, and The Prime Buyer’s Report. Check out AAA’s auto repair shop options, particularly if you are AAA member since you may get a discount. Review what the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has to say about an auto repair shop. Serious customer complaints may steer you aware from an auto repair shop, whether or not it has preferred status.
Also, call a car accident lawyer before settling on a shop. An experienced attorney will have heard the horror and success stories of vehicle repairs in the area. At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we offer a great deal of insight into local repair shops that offer you quality work at a competitive rate versus shops that may utilize used parts and quick, shoddy repairs.
How an Attorney Can Help You Avoid a Disreputable Direct Repair Shop
After a car accident that leaves your vehicle in need of repair, call an experienced attorney right away. To begin with, a lawyer will ensure you are treated fairly by your insurance company. There are many steps during the insurance claim process where an adjuster can treat you unfairly or step outside the bounds of the law. An attorney will keep the insurance company and its employees accountable for adhering to the law at all times.
An experienced attorney will see through an adjuster’s manipulations. An adjuster can say all sorts of things, particularly about which repair shops you should use or avoid. Our lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick have heard it all. We can help you see beyond the adjuster’s claims and conduct independent research into the best shop for your vehicle.
We can offer you advice on what questions to ask a potential shop and red flags. For instance, you should determine whether the shop only uses OEM parts or will give you an estimate using non-OEM parts. You should determine whether the shop’s employees have the proper certifications to work on your vehicle. Many modern vehicles require specific training and certifications to properly diagnose issues and make repairs.
Let Kisling, Nestico & Redick Help You Today
Are you dealing with personal injuries and property damage after being in a serious car accident? Now is not the time to take on a major insurance company yourself. You deserve experienced backup from a car accident lawyer. At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we are here to protect your rights and ensure you obtain the best possible outcome in your situation.
We are well aware of the tactics auto insurers use to take advantage of you after an accident. The insurer, whether it is yours or another drivers, is focused on saving itself money. It wants you to use a preferred shop where it knows your repairs will be rushed and performed with inferior parts. We will not let the insurer off the hook. You are entitled to have your vehicle repaired at a reputable shop, where you can trust that your vehicle will be safe to drive once it is finished. You are also entitled to the benefits under the insurance policy, no matter where you take your vehicle. We will ensure you are given the benefits you are entitled to.
To learn more about your right in regard to vehicle repairs after a car accident, contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick online or at 1-800-HURT-NOW. We offer free, no-risk consultations so that you can obtain the information you need before deciding your next step.