Will I Be Penalized for Choosing my Own Body Shop After a Car Accident?
In California, you do not have to use the body shop that is recommended by our insurance company after an accident. This is good news for motorists involved in an accident, as it gives you the freedom to find the best deal available. What’s more, the insurance company cannot penalize an insured driver for not using the recommended repair shop by increasing premiums.
Selecting a repair shop is only one of the requirements that come with the fallout from a car accident. You will also need to address your medical needs and consider your options regarding a personal injury lawsuit. Let our team of experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers assist you with every aspect of recovering from your accident.
Why insurance companies push specific shops
Insurance companies typically have relationships with specific auto body shops. Through these relationships, the insurers usually negotiate special rates in exchange for sending a high volume of business to the repair shop. Negotiating lower rates—particularly for the labor costs—can save insurance companies a tremendous amount of money. It should not surprise you that these insurance companies do not often pass those savings on to their insured drivers.
Insurance companies will also point to other factors for why they prefer certain repair shops. They often are able to negotiate training requirements and obtain lifetime warranties for work done by the shop.
How insurance companies might pressure you
The adjusters that work for your insurance company cannot penalize you for not using their preferred body shop, but that does not mean they will not pressure you to do so. Adjusters will often ominously note your chosen repair shop is out of network without mentioning that you are not at risk of any consequences for selecting an out of network body shop.
Many times the insurance adjuster will make a hard sell on the benefits of staying in-network. They could highlight the additional training requirements that can come with these shops or imply that only their preferred repair shop is guaranteed to appropriately repair the damaged vehicle. In some cases, they might even drag out the process in hopes that you simply give in.
One of the benefits that come with hiring a car accident lawyer after a crash is that they can serve as your advocate when dealing with the insurance companies. By serving as your voice during this challenging time, you can avoid dealing directly with pushy insurance adjusters that do not have your best interest at heart.
Weighing your options
Insurance companies cannot force your hand when it comes to picking a repair shop, and they cannot penalize you for the choice you ultimately make. However, state law does allow these insurance companies to recommend a preferred auto body shop to you. There is an important additional requirement that might make you think twice about shopping around, however.
The California Insurance Code requires that insurers that recommend a certain body shop stand behind the repairs if they are not done properly. This is important, as counting on the insurance company to ensure your vehicle is repaired properly is valuable.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. If your primary concern is obtaining a repair at the lowest estimate possible, your best bet is likely to shop around until you find the right fit. However, if you are more concerned with ensuring your repairs are guaranteed to meet your specifications, you might prefer the protections that come with selecting the insurer-approved shop.
Talk to an attorney about your options
When you hire the car accident attorneys of Ellis Injury Law, you get full-service assistance during every step of the claims process. We will advise you on your repairs and ensure that your insurance company treats you fairly. To learn more about your legal rights following an accident, call right away to schedule your free consultation.