The auto insurance claim and repair process simplified for you.
Screech… Skiddd… Craaash is the last thing anyone wants or needs during their busy day to day life. When it does happen it can be very stressful and a bit intimidating having to deal with the insurance company claim process and a repair facility. Not knowing the facts makes it even more difficult to make the right decisions when processing an insurance claim. You may think that your insurance company is there to help you but the last thing they want to do is spend time and money fixing your car.
When they have to process your claim there is only one thing on their mind and that’s get it done as cheap as possible. Your best interest is not their main concern their own interest is. The insurance industry has two main focuses and one is taking as much of your money as possible and two is to keep as much as possible in any way they can. After over a hundred years in the business they have concocted some very ingenious ways to do so.
I own a licensed auto body/collision repair facility and for educational purposes for the best interest of my customers. I went to school and got educated in insurance and got licensed as an adjuster and producer. I decided to do this in 2000 when lightning struck my body shop and burned it to the ground. During my claims process I got no help from my agent and the assigned adjuster only knew one word and that was “NO”, everything I asked for he denied even when he knew I was entitled to the reimbursement of the loss. It took a year and a half to finally conclude the claim and all those “no’s” turned into “yes’s” by the time I was done. This just further showed me the mindset of the insurance industry in the midst of a claim.
One way insurers save money is the use of aftermarket “AM” parts and when you get into an accident most insurers will use these parts in the repair without telling you because in most states all they need to do is write it in the repair estimate and you as a customer need to find it in the stack of paper, read it and ask questions. There is an organization called CAPA.org that is financed by the insurance industry to certify Taiwan parts to install on your vehicle even though your vehicle never came with Taiwan parts. at the end of this article is a link to the parts manufacturers that insurers use as replacement parts on your vehicle, as you can see their mostly all Taiwan manufacturers. Some insurers have a policy option to only use OEM parts but never tell anyone about the option and use it as an excuse to use AM parts in the repair telling the consumer that they could have purchased the option even though they were never even offered it. In my opinion the consumer should be verbally offered by law an option to use OEM parts at the time of policy inception, it should be the consumers choice 100% of the time what goes on their car.
Here is a list of things that will happen during a repair process.
1. Have your car towed if it is not drivable, your insurance company will pay for the tow to a storage yard and then to the collision shop of your choice. You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of your pocket for these tows as the collision repair shop pays for the tows when the car arrives at the shop and gets reimbursed from the insurance company. Although a small group of insurers may require you to pay for the tow and they will reimburse you for the costs.
2. Pick a shop to do the repairs. Remember it is your legal right to choose who will work on your vehicle. An Insurance company cannot force you or badger you into going to one of their direct repair shops for repairs. Insurers save millions of dollars processing claims at these claims clearing houses so they will do or say everything they can to get you to go there. (See Direct repair below).
3. File a claim with your insurance company. When filing a claim you have to make sure you have the “At the accident scene” information as the claim rep will ask for this information. If you think you may not want to file a claim because the damage may be less than your deductible or your at fault accident may raise your rates higher than the cost of the repair, you need to do the math at this point. There are certain times that an insurer can raise your rates and /or cancel your policy. You need to know that when you have broad collision coverage your deductible will be waived if you’re less than 50% at fault and also all deductibles pertain if you have standard collision. The claim rep will ask where it happened what happened and what time and date.
This is what is called a “proof of loss statement” and you have sixty days to file a proof of loss statement with your insurance company or they can deny your claim. The claim rep will require you to make a choice at this time as to where you want to have your car repaired if you don’t already have it at a repair shop (it is your legal choice to go where you want to). Claim reps sometimes try to persuade you to go to their DRP shops by stating that they can’t guarantee any work done by any other shop except their DRP shop, The reason why is that there is a law that states if they’re going to send customers to their DRP shops to save money that they have to warrant the work of that DRP shop. Insurers tried in the past to slam cars together at DRP shops as cheap as possible and didn’t want to take any responsibility for the shoddy repairs; the government stepped in and forced them to be responsible by law. The purpose of a DRP hasn’t changed; it’s all about saving money in the eyes of an insurer. The fact is that all shops with a State license and liability insurance fully cover the quality of the repairs performed by that repair shop. Another ploy is that insurers may say you may be responsible for costs over and above the insurance estimate if you go to a non preferred shop, not true you will only be responsible for any cost that you may be responsible for if you went to their DRP shop such as deductibles and no more,pick a quality shop and just make sure in writing that they have to agree to the insurance company agreed upon quote.
4. Collision Repair Process, after you have selected a shop you can call the tow company to release the vehicle and have the vehicle towed to the repair shop. The shop will cover all the tows and storage and add it to the claim. At this point you can get your rental car if you have the coverage. Getting rental coverage is a good idea if you don’t have another car to use in case of an accident. Your insurance company will insure any vehicle you borrow for full coverage with a $500.00 deductible when you’re having your car repaired even if you do not have full coverage on your personal vehicle. So if you have a friend with a car and you want to borrow it, it’s insured for full coverage as long as your car is in for repair and being repaired. They will also insure any rental cars you rent for the same period.
Direct repair/Preferred shop is a collision shop who has a contract with an insurance company and the contract lists what labor rates will be charged what parts will be used(aftermarket Chinese parts or used), what procedures will be used, what percentage of discount on parts and materials. DRP is nothing but cut rate claims processing centers. The DRP shop usually has two price structures, one for the insurance company and one for the general public.
Picking a Quality Repair Shop: Any shop that has been in business for a good amount of time, which has a clean record with the State Bureau of Automotive Regulations and has liability insurance would probably be a good choice. As far as DRP insurance preferred shops go, they put the insurance company first and the customer second because after you’re gone they still have to deal with the insurance company over and over again on other claims. You will be none the wiser when you leave as they will tell you the least as possible concerning your claim. Most DRP shops have to process twice the amount of work for the same profit as a non DRP shop. DRP puts the insurance company in control of the whole repair process, a quality repair facility will put all parties on the same level with Knowledge, education and experience.