The simple answer is no. In the vast majority of cases, you don’t have to choose the body shop recommended by your insurance company. The choice is yours as the consumer, by law in almost all situations. But while you get to make the final decision, it’s still important to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks to following your insurer’s recommendation and make sure you find a shop that will work with your insurance company.
Why Insurance Companies Recommend Certain Shops
Your insurance company probably has contracts with local repair shops in your area, and they’ll make recommendations based on these contracts. Insurers benefit financially from consumers choosing to work with shops with whom they hold contracts because they’ve typically secured lower labor, parts, and material costs in exchange for their recommendations.
Claims representatives aim to achieve specific goals and quotas in terms of the number of claims that go to their contracted repair shops. If you choose to work with a different shop than they recommend, they may push back and try to persuade you to use one of their direct shops.
They may tell you that since a given shop isn’t on their list, your claim will take longer to process and you won’t get an estimate for a longer period of time. Depending on your insurance company, they may even try to tell you they can’t warranty the repairs on your vehicle if you choose your own shop. However, respectable auto body shops — including Mackin’s — always provide written lifetime warranties on repairs to protect your vehicle, so don’t be swayed by this.
State Collision Repair Laws and Regulations
Every state has a unique set of laws and regulatory standards when it comes to insurance claims and vehicle repairs. What is required of you may also differ somewhat from state to state. It’s important to do your own research on your state’s specific rules when you file a claim with your insurance company and before you choose a repair shop so you know your rights and the relevant laws that you and your insurance company must follow.
What are your car insurance repair rights?
It’s important to make sure you understand what your car accident repair rights and responsibilities are in your state. In most states across the country, you do not legally have to use the body shop your insurer recommends. Generally, you also have the right to expect the following from your insurance company:
- A timely and transparent explanation of the coverage decision
- A clear explanation of how your claim will be paid
- Timely payments and answers to your questions
Keep in mind that what’s required of you also varies by state, including how to get an estimate for repairs and how long you have to get your car fixed after an accident.
Can an insurance company force you to use their body shop?
No. In most states, including Oregon and Washington, your insurance company cannot force you to use their specific body shop. Thankfully, both states share similar collision repair laws, and it is illegal in both states for an insurance company to require you to use a particular repair shop as a condition of payment.
Can an insurance company force you to fix your car?
It depends. Whether or not your insurance company can require you to get your car repaired following an accident is determined by whether you own your car or have a loan. If you own your car outright, you have a lot more flexibility.
If you own your vehicle and are not making car payments, you generally don’t have to use the money from your insurance claim for car repairs. If instead, you have a loan on your vehicle, you may be required to get any damage repaired. That’s because your lender will generally want the collateral for the loan (your car) to be functional and in good condition as you pay off the remaining balance.
Choose a Repair Shop That Has Your Best Interests in Mind
So you’re not required to follow the recommendation of your insurance company, but how do you go about choosing the right repair shop to meet your needs? Look for a local shop that does the following:
- Provides timely written estimates
- Offers lifetime warranties on repairs
- Works directly with your insurance company
- Has lot-security measures in place
- Provides repair-time estimates as well as cost estimates
Mackin’s auto body is a trusted, family-owned repair shop with 9 locations in the Portland and Southwest Washington area. With over 75 years of experience providing high-quality work and customer service in our community, we know how to get your vehicle repaired and get you back on the road safely.