Can My Auto Insurer Make Me Use a Certain Body Shop?

Last Updated on March 26, 2019

When you are in an auto accident, one of your primary concerns is going to be getting your car repaired and back on the road. Whether you are working with your car insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver who was at fault, you are likely going to be pushed toward using a specific body shop for your repairs. The car insurance company will probably make it seem as though you do not have any choices about body shop, but this is not necessarily the case.

Why a Particular Body Shop?

insurance body shopInsurance companies have several reasons for trying to get you to use a body shop from their list of recommended shops. These auto insurers have contracts with the body shops on their list. The contracts allow for discounts on parts and labor for the repairs necessary for your vehicle.

Often the insurance company will issue the repair check directly to the body shop where your vehicle is repaired. This ensures the company that all of the funds they are giving you on the claim are going toward the repairs. It also saves them money, because they will be giving the body shop the money directly that is for the actual cost of repairs rather than giving you the money based on an estimate.

When it comes right down to it, insurance companies are only concerned with their bottom line. By getting discounts at a particular body shop and paying them directly, they are paying out the least amount of money for the claim. If you use a body shop that is not on their list, they will likely wind up paying more.

Advantages to Using the Auto Insurers Body Shop

There are some advantages to going with the body shop recommended by the car insurance company. In addition to discounts on parts and labor, the contracts that auto insurers have with repair shops include certain protections for you, the driver. First, insurance companies require that these body shops give you a lifetime warranty on the work that is done on your vehicle.

Another advantage of using the insurance company’s body shop is that you will be more likely to get quality parts. The insurance company has a contract with the shop that dictates when and why used or salvage parts can be used, or when new parts must be used. Your policy may have fine print that dictates when new parts can be used instead of salvage parts, and this can affect the quality of your repair.

Advantages to Using Your Own Body Shop

There are also some advantages to using your own body shop that is not on the auto insurer’s list. If you have a body shop that you have used before and know you can trust, that peace of mind is often worth the extra cost. The car insurance company will sometimes pay the total cost of repairs regardless of where you get the car repaired, so it may not cost you anything out of pocket to go with a more expensive body shop.

If you are working with the other driver’s car insurance company to get your repairs done, you might want to thoroughly check out the recommended body shop. It is not as easy to trust these insurance companies, because you are not their interest. They are interested in protecting their bottom line and their actual customer.

Disadvantages to Using Your Own Body Shop

There are also some disadvantages to using your own body shop. In some cases, car insurance companies will try to pay out the claim only for the amount of the estimate at their recommended body shop. If the body shop you choose costs more, you could wind up fighting the insurance company to pay the difference. Without legal representation, you could wind up paying out of pocket for some of the repairs if the estimate at your body shop is more than the estimate gained by the insurance company.

Do You Have to Use Their Body Shop?

In most states, it is against the law for the insurance company to require you to use their body shop. You have a choice in where you get your car repaired. The important thing to remember is that just because you can choose your own body shop, that doesn’t mean that it is in your best interests to do so. You should make sure to do your research into the body shops on the auto insurer’s list and the other shops in your area before making a decision. Also carefully check your policy or ask questions of the other driver’s policy to determine if you will get full compensation for repairs if you choose your own body shop.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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