When talking to your claims representative, it is a very common practice for them to attempt to steer you to their preferred body shop to have the repairs done. Steering is illegal in most states; however, it is still a common practice. Do not be intimidated or coerced into taking your vehicle somewhere just because the insurance company wants you to use a particular shop. By law, you have the right to have your vehicle repaired by the repairer of your choice.
Insurance companies have agreements with body shops known as DRP’s (Direct Repair Providers). A DRP is an agreement between the body shop and an insurance company that usually means that the body shop agrees to price concessions for the insurance company. In exchange, the body shop is led to believe that more claims will be sent their way because they agreed to lower their prices for the insurance company.
As a consumer you need to think clearly as to what this issue means for you. Do you really want your vehicle repaired by a body shop that agrees to fix it cheaper to get more work for them? Is a cheaper repair a quality repair? Not usually. Don’t fall victim to this game. If you don’t know a quality body shop, ask around and get recommendations from other consumers.
Some insurance companies will take this steering practice up a notch by intimidating you into thinking that they will not guarantee the repair if you have the car repaired by someone other than their list of preferred shops. This is not true. Each body shop guarantees their own repairs, not the insurance company.
Some insurers might tell you that if you take your car to the body shop of your choice, you might have to pay the difference if that body shop has higher labor rates than the ones that have DRP agreements with them. Again, this is not true. Your insurer has to pay reasonable and customary repair charges from the body shop of your choice.
During a large hailstorm event, some insurance companies set up claims drive-through centers at their preferred body shop. This is where another subtle form of steering can occur. They adjust your claim and then introduce you to the body shop manager who will be happy to schedule your vehicle in on the spot. This puts unfair pressure on you to use this shop.
In light of all these common [and illegal] steering practices, it doesn’t make good sense to take your vehicle somewhere because the insurance company says so. Look at it like this: Does the third party (your insurance company) that pays for your claim really have your best interest in mind? Or, are they referring you to this shop so they can save money? As the old adage goes, “You usually get what you pay for.”
The intention of this article is not to paint all insurance companies as villains. We are trying to educate you to make informed choices about your vehicle repairs. Don’t be unknowingly steered.
We at NAPDRT , hope you have received some usable information from this page. Know your rights as a consumer and avoid the potential pitfalls of the claim and repair processes.