If you get into an accident, there are several things that are useful to know before you head to the body shop.
#1. A Fender Bender Can be Expensive to Repair
If you’ve gotten into a literal fender bender and it’s deemed that you’re the one at fault, you may be surprised at the cost of replacing a fender – even after the $500 deductible. The average fender replacement can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,600 after the costs of installation and painting. On vehicles with carbon fiber fenders, that cost can be as much as $5,000 to replace.
#2. Approved Shops are Often Obliged to Work on Behalf of Insurance Companies
Auto insurers contract with auto body shops to repair vehicles for a pre-negotiated rate; sometimes this includes practices like require low hourly labor rates, or making the shop pick up the cost of the rental car. Insurers often give customers so many discounts that it makes it impossible for shops to make much of a profit, causing some companies to feel tempted to cut corners.
#3. Not all Replacement Parts are Equal
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are designed to match your make and model of vehicle exactly. Insurers generally prefer shops use generic, lower quality, or salvaged parts because they’re less expensive. If you’re at fault for an accident, you may be bound by your insurance policy to use these lower quality parts, however, if someone else is at fault be sure to tell your auto body shop to use OEM parts.
#4. The Due Date May Be Exaggerated
Mechanics often take on more work than they can handle but may blame it on things like parts being delayed. Before you choose a shop to do your body work, it’s always a good idea to check their online reviews to make sure that they deliver what they say they will.
#5. A Rental Car Can be Expensive
Renting a car is convenient if you’re going to be without your vehicle for an extended period of time, however, the costs can add up quickly. Renting a car for three weeks could cost $1,000 or more. Even if you have rental car insurance, your daily reimbursement may be limited to the cost of a compact car. Make sure your rental car insurance is comparable to the size of car you’re having repaired.
#6. Choose a Shop That Specializes in Your Type of Vehicle
Many European cars have precision parts and use types of metal that require specialized equipment to repair it. You should always take your car to a shop that’s certified by the manufacturer to work on your specific vehicle. Going to a manufacturer certified shop ensures the shop will understand your vehicle and have the right tools and parts to properly repair it back to manufacturer’s specifications. These shops do generally charge higher rates, so insurers won’t necessarily recommend them – but they should still be willing to pick up the tab.
#7. The Insurer’s Warranty Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Much
Insurers will sometimes exaggerate warranties on parts, for example, saying that they’ll be good for the life of the vehicle. This can be a tactic to urge consumers to go to a shop within their network. In reality, the body shop’s guarantee is the one that you should trust. Most shops guarantee their work, and most manufacturers guarantee their parts – those are the warranties that truly matter.