Know Your Rights: Choosing a Body Shop for Collision Repairs in California
After getting in an accident, it’s not unusual for insurance companies to push you toward using their preferred body shops. Fortunately, as a consumer in California, you have the legal right to choose any body shop you want to handle your repairs. At Cline Collision Center, we understand the importance of these rights and go above and beyond to ensure you choose our shop with confidence. We work collaboratively with all insurance companies, including yours.
Here’s a closer look at the consumer rights you hold in California regarding auto body repairs, so you can make the most informed decisions about where to take your vehicle.
Understanding the California Motorists Bill of Rights
The California Motorists Bill of Rights outlines crucial rights and regulations for consumers who are doing business with an auto body repair facility. Here are some key provisions of the bill:
- Right to Choose the Repair Facility: In California, you have the right to choose the repair facility of your choice, unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise. This allows you to select a reputable body shop that meets your needs and preferences.
- Notification to Insurance Company: It’s important to notify your insurance company before proceeding with repairs. Insurance policies typically state that you must file a sworn proof of loss, present the damaged property, and submit it to examination under oath.
- Obtaining Repair Estimates: Contrary to popular belief, you’re not obligated to contact multiple shops for repair estimates. California law mandates that you receive a written estimate from the shop of your choice before the repairs are performed.
- Responsibility for Repair Costs: As the vehicle’s owner, you’re generally responsible for paying the repair costs directly to the chosen repair facility, unless otherwise specified by your insurance policy. Although your insurance company may cover the loss, deductibles or depreciation may be subtracted. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand the terms and conditions of your policy.
- Repair Facility Accountability: The Automobile Repair Act of 1971 establishes that all repair dealers in California must be registered with the state, display a sign, and adhere to specific standards. If a repair facility fails to follow these regulations, it can lose its license to operate. The act also includes provisions related to providing accurate information, stating requested repairs in work orders, offering copies of signed documents, and maintaining trade standards.
Click here to read the Auto Body Repair Consumer Bill of Rights.
Recourse for Consumer Disputes
Knowing where to seek recourse in case of difficulties or disputes is essential. Here are two avenues available to you:
- Consulting with Insurance Company: If you experience issues with your insurance company, it’s recommended you consult with your insurance agent or broker first. They may be able to provide guidance and address your concerns.
- Department of Insurance: If the issue wasn’t resolved, you can reach out to the Department of Insurance, State of California by calling their toll-free line at 1-800-927-4357. The Department of Insurance ensures fair practices and can assist you in resolving disputes with your insurer.
Additional Rights and Considerations:
In addition to the rights discussed above, it’s important to be aware of the following:
- Freedom to Choose a Repair Shop: Insurance companies cannot require, direct, suggest, or recommend a specific repair shop unless you expressly request it in writing. If an insurer elects a particular repair shop, they must ensure the vehicle is restored to its pre-loss condition at no additional cost to you, as stated in the policy or allowed by law.
- Use of Non-OEM Replacement Parts: Insurers cannot require the use of non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement crash parts for repairs unless the parts are of equal quality, safety, fit, and performance as OEM parts. If non-OEM parts are specified, insurers must cover any necessary modifications and provide warranties equivalent to those of OEM parts.
Choose a Collision Repair Facility That Respects Your Rights
When it comes to auto body repairs in California, knowing and exercising your consumer rights is crucial. By law, you have the freedom to choose any auto body shop for your repairs.
At Cline Collision Center, we’re dedicated to delivering high-quality auto body repair and refinishing services while prioritizing your safety and satisfaction. Our team upholds a strong code of ethics, emphasizing integrity, honesty, safety, and craftsmanship. We genuinely care about your experience and stand behind all our repairs for as long as you own your vehicle. Whether you need extensive collision damage repair or a minor fix, we’re here to assist you.
For questions or concerns about your vehicle, or to schedule an appointment contact us today at (707) 591-9909.