Every year there are about 6 million car accidents in the U.S. Even if you’re lucky enough to walk away without an injury, you’ll likely have car repairs after a car wreck. Even a fender bender can cause hundreds of dollars in damage.
Check out these tips for finding the best body shop after an auto accident.
Check With Your Auto Insurance
Auto insurance companies usually have recommended body shops that they’ll encourage you to use. They might have special agreements with these shops, so they can pay less for the work.
Check with your insurance company to get some suggestions for body shops. This can give you a good place to start.
Remember that the insurance company is looking out for its best interests, though. It’s still important for you to research each body shop to ensure they do good work. You have the right to choose your own body shop even if it’s not one of the insurance-recommended shops.
Ask Your Lawyer
Hiring a personal injury lawyer after a car accident can maximize your payout from the insurance company, especially if you’re injured and the accident was someone else’s fault. Check with a personal injury attorney if you need more information on the best way to handle your claim.
Another advantage of working with a car accident attorney is getting recommendations for body shops, doctors, and other services you need to recover from your accident.
A lawyer who handles lots of car accident cases likely knows which local body shops do quality work. Ask your attorney for suggestions, or ask if they know anything about the body shop you’re considering.
Chances are good that several people you know have been in a similar situation. Hearing firsthand accounts of the work various local body shops do can help you make your decision. Some people you know might have preferred mechanics that they always go to and can vouch for their quality work.
Ask people you know or post in a local Facebook group to get recommendations for trustworthy local body shops. People are often eager to share their experiences, both good and bad, which can help you evaluate potential companies.
Get Multiple Estimates
If your insurance is paying for the repairs, you might wonder why estimates are important. Price can be an indicator of how qualified the shop is to do your work.
An especially low estimate could mean the body shop does sub-par work or doesn’t have the experience necessary to handle your repairs properly. An extra high estimate could mean the shop is overcharging, or they could be doing additional repairs that other shops aren’t planning to do.
Look over the detailed estimates from each body shop to see how they compare. Use the information to evaluate each shop to help make your decision.
Look at Certifications
Having industry certifications isn’t necessary, but it can indicate that a body shop knows what it’s doing. Groups such as the Automotive Service Association, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair give out certifications to indicate body shops that meet their standards.
You can also look at the qualifications of the mechanics and body shop staff. Ask about any certifications or achievements of the staff that might indicate quality work.
Research the Body Shop’s Experience
Not all auto shops have the same experience. Some might specialize in certain types of repairs. Others work primarily on certain makes of vehicles.
Verify that the staff has completed repairs like yours before. This can be especially important if you have a specialty vehicle, such as a luxury brand or a hybrid or electric vehicle. You want someone who is comfortable and proficient with the repairs you need to ensure they’re done correctly.
It’s also a good idea to look at how long the body shop has been in business. Having years of experience in the community is a good indicator that the shop does quality work. If it takes shortcuts or doesn’t do things correctly, it likely wouldn’t last that long.
Find Out About Parts
Car parts can be from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM parts) or after-market parts, which don’t come from the company that made your vehicle. Shops sometimes use recycled OEM parts as well. The requirements for whether or not a shop has to use OEM parts vary by state.
If OEM parts are important to you, ask the shop what type of parts they’ll use and whether or not they use recycled OEM parts. You can request OEM parts, but they could cost more money. You could end up paying the price difference if your insurance company doesn’t want to pay more for OEM parts.
Ask About Warranties
Even the best auto shops sometimes make mistakes or the repairs don’t last. Find out if the shop offers a warranty on the work they do.
Compare the warranties at different shops to help you decide. A shop that stands behind its work will likely offer a warranty, which gives you peace of mind and protects you financially. Always get the warranty terms in writing so you have proof if something happens after the work is done.
Evaluate the Experience From the Beginning
Look at the customer service experience from the first time you contact the shop. Did they answer the phone, and were they courteous? Do they get you the answers you want when you ask questions?
If they never answer the phone, avoid your questions, or act rude before you’re even a customer, the overall experience probably won’t be a positive one. Consider the communication and customer service before choosing a shop.
If you stop by the shop, look at how clean and organized it is. Don’t expect a beautifully decorated space. However, the store should feel clean, and the shop area should be organized.
Find the Best Body Shop for You
Finding the best body shop for your auto repair after an accident ensures the repairs get done correctly. Doing the research is worth it to know your vehicle is in good hands.
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