Just got into an accident? You are owed money. That much of the law is cut and dry. The rest, however, can be misleading or even confusing, mainly depending on who is giving you the advice and what their role is in the collision repair equation. We want to help set the record straight.
Car owners tend to think that dealers, mechanics, and body shops are all trying to screw over their customers. The reason is the repair bills can be pretty high, you are at the mercy of the shop to repair your vehicle, and few people understand what goes into a safe, correct collision repair. This is not to say there aren’t some bad apples out there (because there are), but a real collision repair facility can be your partner in ensuring that you get every penny that is coming to you in your collision repair claim.
Nobody ever gets in their car and plans to get in a car accident. But when it happens, life gets chaotic and inconvenient instantly. From dealing with your insurance company, the body shop, your possible injuries, and the many inconveniences that come from being without your car, the days that follow a car accident are almost worse than the crash itself.
If it’s been a while since you had your car repaired, you may not know what your legal rights are as a customer seeking collision repair. The truth is, any auto body shop can make a car look like it is repaired, but there can be some shoddy work and safety issues hiding under the shiny paint. But knowing what you’re entitled to during the collision repair process is entirely different. It could be what determines the overall quality and safety of your car.
We’re here to let California drivers know your legal rights for collision repair.
You Have The Right To Choose Repair Facility That Fixes Your Car
One thing that most drivers do not realize is that no matter what, YOU have the right to choose where their car gets repaired. Your insurance company may tell you that a shop is out of their network, but that doesn’t exist in collision repair the same way it does in a health insurance situation. Insurance companies have direct repair partners that they would prefer that you use, which we’ll explain below. No matter what, the choice of repair facility is always in the customer’s hands, and that is protected by law.
Part of the reason why the automobile industry had significant changes over the years is due to the advancements in the ways cars are built. You used to be able to drop your vehicle off at the shop, trusting that the technician would use the right tools and equipment to repair your car. However, this is no longer the way vehicles are repaired. Each car comes with unique repair procedures laid out by your car’s manufacturer, known as OEM repairs.
It’s important to note that not all body shops are created equally. Some auto body shops do not have the necessary tools and equipment capable of performing these types of repairs. Technicians need to have extensive training paid for by the body shop owner, so they know how to perform your repair correctly. The training is not a requirement, which is why most technicians will often get right to work on a repair “out of experience” rather than looking up what the manufacturers instruct. These technicians think because they repaired a thousand bumpers on a Honda Civic, this bumper repair on your Honda Civic won’t be any different.
Several auto body repair shops, specifically those that are part of a chain, are known as “direct-repair facilities,” or DRP for short. This means they have a contractual agreement with Insurance companies to perform fast repairs at a specified budget and deadline. These deadlines are usually impossible to meet, causing the technicians to cut corners in the repair process to save time. They run on the philosophy:
Faster repairs = happy Insurance company = more cars = more money.
Your insurance company will most likely encourage you to go to a DRP shop, because of the agreement they have with them. They’ll make it seem like it’s the best option out there for your car. No matter what your insurance company may tell you, YOU have the right to choose where you get your vehicle repaired.
You May Have The Choice Of Repair Parts
If the manufacturers had their way, there would be no such thing as an aftermarket part. If the insurance company had it their way, there would be no such thing as an OEM part. Many body shops feel the same way because aftermarket parts can be ill-fitting and inferior compared to the parts made by the original equipment manufacturer. But aftermarket parts are a lot cheaper than OEM parts, and that’s why insurance companies insist on them.
Your policy will state what your coverage is and what parts are allowed. You have the right to use OEM parts, even if your insurance policy does not cover them. You may have to pay the difference in price out of pocket. There is also pending legislation that could require the use of OEM parts in cars three years old and newer, but that bill will probably never get passed because doing so would raise insurance rates. Non-OEM parts could also affect the timing of specific sensors in the advanced safety features of your car, and much debate is being waged in the collision industry about this.
Currently, there is no law requiring a technician to follow OEM repair procedures and use OEM parts. The state of California doesn’t even require technicians to have a license to work on your car. This means they can do whatever they want in the repair process and not have a collision repair officer monitoring them.
Most states will require shops and/or insurers to inform a customer when something other than OEM parts are used. This is typically part of the repair process. There are also a few states that need your consent before using these parts. However, some states don’t require any disclosure or approval on behalf of the customer. This is why it’s critical to ask the body shop questions and to check your policy. Knowledge is power, and your safety should always be a top priority.
Check Your Policy. It Is Your Legal Contract
All states have their insurance coverage minimums, and every insurance policy is different, so it’s critical to check with your policy sooner than later to see what you’re covered for. Specific policies allow the use of OEM parts, while others might have contingencies, such as how old the vehicle is or what needs to be repaired. Some might even specifically call for the shop to use parts that are “like kind and quality,” known as salvage parts. These are parts purchased from a nearby salvage yard and were previously used.
Certain repairs like a door or hood repair aren’t as critical in requiring OEM parts. However, salvage parts will almost always require repair of their own before they are “usable” for your car. They could need some metalwork and will definitely require paintwork, depending on the condition of the actual part. Merely using an OEM part would eliminate any potential problems like this in the repair process. This is why it’s critical to check your policy to know what you’re covered for.
Your Repair Shop Can Be Your Ally In Getting What You Are Owed.
Now you know that you have the right to choose where you get your car repaired. What’s also equally important to know is that you have the right to ask questions about how your vehicle will be repaired (parts, repair procedures, etc.), the technician’s training, and if a shop is “certified.” A certified repair shop knows the importance of following OEM repair procedures and has highly trained technicians capable of handling any repair that comes into their shop.
Your body shop deals with insurance companies and claims all day every day. As such, they know how to determine what you are owed in an insurance claim. Your shop can also help you if you have received sub-par collision repair and are looking for help in getting your car re-repaired. Most body shops have experienced this situation before, and a few shops will even perform a post-repair inspection on a car repaired by another shop. Often these PRI’s can help you sue for damages from the bad repair.
Why Trust Us
Here at Telesis Collision Center, we are a certified repair shop that has been serving the Antelope Valley since 1995. Our team of technicians is I-CAR Gold Class Certified, which is the highest level of certification a technician can receive.
We promise to work with you to ensure you are getting the best quality of repair out there! Each one of our technicians is up-to-date on OEM repair procedures from your car’s manufacturer. We know that you have several choices when looking for an auto repair shop in Palmdale. Why not take it to a shop that will perform the repair precisely as the manufacturer instructs?
We are committed to giving you the best service possible. If you’d like to schedule a free estimate or get a free online quote, click any of the buttons below! Or, if you’d prefer to call us, feel free to give us a call at (661)-952-4732. We look forward to hearing from you!