Where you get your car fixed after an accident depends on your policy and who will be paying for the repairs. If you plan to submit a claim to your auto insurer, your policy will dictate whether you can choose any collision damage repair shop, or if you must use one specified by the insurance company.
If another driver had fault for the crash — and you plan to pursue a settlement for your damages — you can likely choose the repair shop that will fix your car. However, choose the repair shop carefully as a portion of your claim may rely on the documentation it provides about your damages and repairs.
Can the Insurance Company Decide Where I Get My Car Fixed After an Accident?
According to Florida Statute § 626.9743(3), an insurance company can require policyholders to use a collision damage repair shop it specifies. However, if it does enforce that requirement, the chosen repair company must restore your vehicle “to its physical condition as to performance and appearance immediately prior to the loss at no additional cost to the insured… other than as stated in the policy.”
In other words, if your insurance company makes you choose a shop from its preferred list, the auto shop must repair your vehicle to its pre-accident condition no matter what it costs the insurer.
It is important to note that only your insurer can impose this requirement, and only if your policy allows it to do so.
If you prefer to decide where to get your car fixed after an accident, the insurance company will likely require you to obtain multiple damage estimates.
What Are the Advantages to Using the Insurance Company’s Preferred Repair Shop?
If you choose to get your car fixed at one of your insurance company’s preferred shops, it can offer some advantages.
In most cases, the insurer will deal directly with its preferred shops. The shop will provide its estimate directly to the claims adjuster, and the insurance company will issue payment directly to the collision damage repair shop, which means you have no out-of-pocket costs (other than your deductible).
Your insurer also will not require you to obtain multiple estimates if you use a preferred service provider.
If, during the repair process, the shop identifies additional required work stemming from the accident, your insurer is likely to approve the extra cost without debate. This can help to speed up the time necessary to complete the repairs.
Although the Florida statutes do not require your insurance company to guarantee any car repairs it pays for, preferred repair shops often do guarantee their work. And, if you are not satisfied with the quality of the repair shop’s work, your insurer will typically require the shop to make it right.
What Are the Disadvantages to Using the Insurance Company’s Preferred Repair Shop?
The most notable disadvantage of using a repair provider preferred by your insurance company is that it will not know anything about your vehicle’s condition prior to the accident.
If you have an existing relationship with a mechanic, he has a familiarity with your vehicle and its condition. This will help ensure that your car gets back (as close as possible) to its pre-accident condition.
You also have a personal relationship and established trust with your own mechanic — and his loyalty will be to you, rather than the insurer. If you use a preferred repair provider, its loyalty will be to the insurer who pays its bills, not to you.
Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me Choose Where to Get My Car Fixed?
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may benefit significantly from working with a car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of filing an insurance claim, including getting you treatment for your injuries and helping you figure out where to get your car fixed after an accident.
Contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free consultation or speak to a Florida car accident lawyer.