How to Choose the Right Auto Repair Shop After an Accident

An auto repair shop recommended by your insurance company can provide a higher level of service, including saving time and money.

It happened: Your car got damaged and needs repair.

Whether it is a flat tire or some broken glass, or worse, auto insurance can help protect your vehicle, finances, and well-being. Here is everything you might want to know about how to get your car repaired quickly.

What You Should Know About Your Auto Insurance Policy

When something happens to your car, it can be stressful. It’s why understanding your car insurance policy and the types of coverage can help provide some peace of mind. Your coverage could pay for your car repairs and help you get back on the road again.

Most states have state minimum coverage requirements, which are generally intended to ensure you have the right amount of coverage. 

You may have added higher limits or additional types of coverage for more protection. Some common add-ons and coverages for car insurance policies include:

  • Comprehensive coverage helps to cover your car for any damage not caused by a collision or crash. Think: falling objects, fire, natural disasters, theft, or vandalism. This coverage is a popular add-on because it is not only accidents that can damage your car.
  • Collision coverage helps to cover repairs to your vehicle or the cost to replace your car if it is totaled in an accident. The coverage kicks in if you crash into another car or object like a tree. It can also help cover any costs or repairs if you experience a roll-over.
  • Rental car reimbursement helps to save you money if you need a rental car after an accident. Repairs can take a long time, and if you rely on your car to get around, a rental car can feel like a must-have. Reimbursement for a rental car can help you avoid sticker shock from a pricy rental car bill.

Do you have to repair your car after an insurance claim?

You don’t have to get your car repaired right away after an accident. If there is little or no damage, or if you plan to fix everything yourself, you might not need to file a claim with your insurance company, especially if you can pay for the damage out of pocket. So, you might not need to worry if you break your rearview mirror or back into a pole.

However, if you are leasing or financing your vehicle, you may want to review your lease or financing agreement. Some leaseholders or lienholders might require you to get your vehicle repaired and do so quickly.

A good rule of thumb after an accident is to let your insurance company know. Filing a claim with your insurer can help protect you and make a stressful situation easier. 

But remember: You should always file a claim with your insurance company if you damage someone else’s car or it is not immediately clear who might be at fault. Your insurance company can help handle your damages, and you might also avoid some delays or disputes over what types of damages might be covered.

In serious cases, like when someone is injured, there is significant damage to your car, or if you have been in a hit and run, you should always let your insurance company know and file a claim. 

The Top 4 Things You Need to Know About Getting Your Car Repaired

If your car is damaged and needs repair, your car insurance policy might pay for the repairs or any replacement costs. Your car insurance company will often recommend a mechanic or a repair shop, and they might even tell you a body shop is within their network.

It can be expensive and take a lot of time to get your vehicle repaired. Make sure you understand your options and the possible advantages before you make a decision. Consider these four things before you get your car repaired:

1. Should you use a repair shop recommended by your auto insurance company?

When you file a claim or let your insurance company know about an accident, they may recommend their direct repair program or direct repair network

A direct repair network is a group of repair shops and sometimes dealerships that work with your insurance company to provide a higher level of service, which can be especially helpful for vehicle estimates and repairs.

2. Are there any benefits to using a direct repair network?

An insurer-recommended repair shop or another provider that is a part of a direct repair network is generally held to performance standards by the insurance company. 

An insurance company’s recommended repair shop might provide one or more of the following benefits:

  • No out-of-pocket costs for inspections or estimates
  • Potentially quicker repairs or lower costs for repairs
  • More accurate estimates
  • Limited lifetime warranty on repairs
  • Better communication with you and the insurance company
  • Certification for working on specific makes or types of cars, including certain brands, exotic vehicles, imported vehicles, or sports cars

Insurance companies generally work hard to make sure they work with reliable and reputable repair shops or vendors.

3. Can I pick my own mechanic or repair shop after an accident?

You have the right to choose your favorite repair shop or mechanic. Insurance companies cannot require you to visit or have your car repaired by a specific car repair shop.

When you are at your preferred garage or repair shop, make sure to get a repair estimate and let your insurance company know.

4. Can I choose what kind of replacement parts will be used for my car repair?

Some insurance companies and car insurance policies let you choose the types of replacement parts that will be used to repair your vehicle.

In some cases, your car insurance policy might require replacement parts from the original equipment manufacturer. 

Generally, you can choose between original equipment manufacturer parts, which are parts supplied by auto manufacturers under their brand or name, or generic parts.

Generic replacement parts are typically just as safe and might even be made in the same factory as branded car parts.

The bottom line

Damage to your car does not have to be a catastrophic event. Car insurance can be an important way to protect your vehicle and your sanity, which is why it is essential to personalize your policy for your lifestyle and understand how you are covered.

When you need a repair, you have the right to decide how your vehicle gets repaired, and generally, an auto repair shop recommended by your insurance company can be a good choice. It can save you money and time to go with a trusted repair shop in a direct repair network.