Has your vehicle recently been damaged in an accident? If so, there are a few facts that you should know before taking your vehicle to the local body shop to be repaired. Taking the time to review these facts outlined below can help to ensure you enjoy a successful repair experience while also keeping your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.
Fact #1: You Can Choose Any Auto Body Shop You Want
Many people are led to believe that they must take their vehicle to the auto body shop that their insurance company recommends if they wish to use their auto insurance policy to cover the cost of the repairs. However, this believe is based on nothing more than a common myth. This is because the law actually provides you with the right to choose any auto body shop that you want to repair your vehicle. More important, it provides you with the right to choose the shop of your choice without sacrificing your insurance coverage.
With that being said, it is important to note that choosing to go to a recommended shop may help to streamline the claims process. This is because your insurance company has already developed a relationship with the auto body shop in question and may therefore choose to pass up on the opportunity to have an independent adjuster estimate the damage to your vehicle.
Fact #2: Not All Damage Will Be Accounted For In Your Original Estimate
When taking your vehicle in to an auto body shop for repairs, the initial estimate that you receive will be based on what is known as a visual inspection. This means that only the damage which can be seen without taking any parts off your vehicle will be included in this estimate. Since most accidents will result in what is known as hidden damage, this initial estimate will often fail to reflect the total cost of repairing your vehicle.
If hidden damage is found, you will be contacted and documentation will be provided to your insurance company in order to obtain approval for the additional repairs. While these repairs may not have an impact on your total out-of-pocket expenses, they will often have an impact on how long it takes to complete your repairs. Therefore, you should always plan on being without your vehicle for a few additional days.
Fact #3: Not All Repairs Will Be Covered In Full
The responsibility of your insurance company is simply to return your vehicle to the condition it was in prior to the accident. While this is a rather simple process when removing dents and scratches, this process can become far more complex when it comes to replacing parts such as your car's battery. This is because a car's battery is often replaced every few years even if the vehicle is never in an accident. Consequently replacing the damaged battery with a new one will ultimately improve the condition of your vehicle rather than simply returning it to its previous condition. As a result, you may be charged what is known as a betterment fee as a result of the improvement to your vehicle's condition.