Car Accident Claims Advice And FAQ – Tips For Negotiating Settlements

by Edward Harris on December 20, 2016

If you were recently involved in a car accident, one of the first tasks that needs to get done is to find a reputable and reliable body shop to repair your vehicle. While you may be tempted to go to the first body shop in the phone book or within a few miles from your home, it could cost you thousands of dollars in overcharges. And you may end up with a shoddy repair job.

Estimates can vary widely, and in most situations, the most expensive shop is not necessarily going to give you the best result. Finding a reliable business can be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but if you receive quality repair at a fair price, the search will be worth it. And you’ll also have a trusted resource to use again.


Here are a few of our best tips for finding a quality body shop:

Ask Around – Repair shops that provide high-quality work at fair prices, often don’t have to advertise. Ask your friends, family, co-workers and social networks for their recommendations. If more than one person recommends the same shop, you should further investigate. If a shop receives poor reviews from multiple resources (Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, etc…) don’t use them.

Make a short list of the shops that are the highest-rated and get quotes from the two or three at the top of the list. Typically, referrals from friends or work associates are a great place to start. However, their experience with the body shop (or repair shop), should be fairly recent (within the last 36 months).

Consider Your Insurer’s Options – Most insurers have preferred repair shops that they work with on a regular basis. While you are not required to use these facilities, it’s a good idea to consider them. They are often reliable, do good work and keep prices reasonable. You may also receive a discount since you were referred from your personal carrier.  There also may be additional guarantees or warranty extensions that apply.

Check Out the Place Of Business – Before you ask for an estimate, drive by the shop and view the area. Look for an organized shop that is neat and clean. Skip dirty, unorganized businesses. Also check the size of the shop. Labor charges tend to be higher at bigger shops that have a large number of front office staff.  Smaller places often charge less for labor, which can add up to big savings on a repair job. They may also offer extended hours and show more flexibility with repair issues.

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Certifications Matter – Look for certifications for all of the mechanics. There are a number of associations that offer certification such as the Automotive Service Association (ASA), Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). A shop that takes the time to train its employees is a strong indicator of quality work. Memberships in local organizations (such as the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce) are always encouraging signs.

Get Multiple Estimates – One of the best ways to avoid overpaying for a repair is to get several estimates. Ask for a detailed breakdown of the damages when getting quotes. Accepting the lowest quote is not always the best idea. In addition to the price, consider the condition of the shop and the qualifications of the mechanics. And reviewing their Better Business Bureau rating is always helpful.

The same concept applies when you are getting quotes for your vehicle insurance. Finding the best Cincinnati auto insurance prices, for example, means you have to get more than one quote.  Hamilton County has many available carriers. The same applies to repairing your car.

Get it in Writing – All estimates should be in writing and spell out exactly the work to be done, along with the price. If a shop is unwilling to give you a written estimate, move on to the next one. Although this practice is unusual, it is a strong indicator of future potential problems. The estimate should also be signed or initialed by yourself, and a copy should be retained before work begins.

Get a Warranty – All work should be warrantied for at least a year. Read the warranty paperwork and ask questions if you are unsure about any issues. Have a complete understanding of what the warranty covers before letting them work on your vehicle. Also, if the actual contract is written by a third-party, check that company’s credibility, and if necessary, call or email their corporate office.

Ask About Parts – Ask if they will be using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts or aftermarket brands. Stick with shops that use OEM parts, even if the price is a bit higher.  The quality will be worth the small amount of extra money you may spend.

Check the Work – When the repair is complete, give it a thorough inspection to make sure all of the work was done and you are happy with the final result. Run your hand over any body work to make sure it is smooth and the paint is the proper color and gloss. If there are inconsistencies, notify your claims representative.

Trust Your Instincts – It’s important to be comfortable with your body shop, so trust your gut instinct when making a decision. If you don’t like the owner, are unhappy with the customer service or just get a bad feeling about a shop, its probably best to keep looking.Your intuition was probably right.

Car accidents can be traumatic, and having a repair shop that adds stress, can make a bad situation much worse. Its important to take your time, do necessary research, and find a shop that repairs your vehicle at a reasonable price. Utilizing our website and additional provided resources should simplify the process.

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