Do I have to use the repair shop my insurance company recommends?
I was recently in an accident and need to have repairs made. My insurance company is telling me that I have to go to a shop they suggest. Can they make me use a repair shop of their choice?
No, you do not have to use the garage or body shop your insurer recommends. In fact, many states have laws on the books specifically stating that an insurer cannot require you to use a certain shop. Still, there can be benefits to using a mechanic in your insurer’s network.
Insurance companies often have a repair network with a list of their preferred repair shops and garages. The reason for this is to keep costs down, as these shops have been vetted and aren’t expected to overcharge or do work that is considered substandard.
Also, while it may vary from one shop to another, you may find an in-network mechanic may be more eager to complete repairs in a timely manner, as the insurer likely points a lot of business in their direction. The insurer often pays them directly, leading to a more streamlined process in general.
Repairs completed by your insurer’s preferred repair shops are typically 100% guaranteed. This means that faulty failed repairs will be fixed at no extra cost to you. Your insurer may be less likely to offer such a guarantee for non-preferred garages (though most reputable repair shops will certainly stand behind their work and fix faulty repairs).
While your insurance company is likely to nudge you in the direction of using a preferred shop, it’s ultimately your choice. Below you’ll find some pros and cons of choosing your own mechanic:
- You get to choose a mechanic you are comfortable with.
- Your mechanic likely has better grasp your car’s repair history.
- Your preferred mechanic may be more conveniently located than those in a repair network.
- You may initially face some pushback from your insurer.
- The process may not be as streamlined with an out-of-network mechanic.
- More time spent communicating with your insurance company for estimates, approvals, and payments.
- You may have to pay out of pocket for estimates or repairs before being reimbursed.