Because of this, the choice you make in an auto body repair shop is crucial. We spoke with experts from several Atlanta-area auto repair shops and provided some of our own professional insight to help steer you in the right direction.
Consult Your Insurance Company
Depending on who is primarily responsible for the car accident, you will want to file a claim for vehicular damage with either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company.
In most cases, the insurer will want to communicate directly with the auto body shop making the repairs to streamline the repair process and keep their costs low. This benefits the driver as well — all you need to do is take your car to the shop, provide a claim number, and allow them to take it from there. Before you do so, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Refer to Your Insurer’s List of Approved Repair Shops
Most car insurance companies have an approved list of repair shops that drivers can refer to when considering an auto repair shop to work with. These are vetted shops that the insurance company trusts.
In some cases, these shops have pre-negotiated discounted rates with the insurer for repair work, and they might offer insurance-backed warranties.
Check the Shop’s Policies on Working with Insurance
If you decide to work with an auto body shop of your own choice, you should verify whether they work with your insurance company before officially hiring them.
Thankfully, most auto body repair shops will work with any insurance company. Regardless, it’s a good idea to double-check so you aren’t left doing the brunt of the paperwork yourself.
If you are set on using a specific auto shop, you should still check your insurer’s approved list to see if it’s included. If it is, you may be able to take advantage of the discounted rates offered by an insurance-recommended repair shop.
Seek Outside Recommendations
Seeking recommendations is a great way to instill confidence in your choice of auto body shop. Aside from your insurance company, the following are some convenient ways to obtain recommendations.
Browse Online Reviews
Online reviews can tell you a lot about a body shop’s trustworthiness and the quality of its work. However, not all reviews (especially negative ones) come from a place of honesty or knowledge, so you should take them with a grain of salt.
What matters most is the overall consensus among reviewers. If the majority of reviews are negative, it’s best to look elsewhere, but if the vast majority are positive, you can reasonably assume that you’ll have a positive experience with that auto shop.
Consult Friends & Family
Nothing feels quite as trustworthy as a recommendation from those nearest and dearest to you. Asking friends and family members about their experiences with local auto body repair shops is an excellent way to begin your search. Your loved ones will probably be more than happy to suggest their favorite shop or share any bad experiences.
Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are working with a personal injury lawyer, they can be a great resource when it’s time to choose an auto body repair shop. Their experience working with victims of car accidents makes them uniquely positioned to provide insight into the reputation and trustworthiness of many of your local auto repair shops.
In addition to helping you select a trusted auto repair shop, your auto accident lawyer may also offer guidance on navigating the insurance side of the process. Since personal injury and property damage claims often go hand-in-hand, your lawyer can help you understand how the damage to your vehicle and the type of auto body shop you choose can impact both claims.
Know What Qualities to Look for in an Auto Repair Shop
Keep in mind that your insurance company’s approval of a shop does not necessarily mean that it will be the right fit for you. Before using a shop on the list, you should perform research and ask questions to make sure you feel knowledgeable and comfortable about the shop and its repairs. The following are a few essential qualities to consider.
Warranties & Quality Standards
Dependability and quality are perhaps two of the most important features to consider when hiring an auto shop. You want to make sure that the job will be done right and that the shop will hold itself accountable for any mistakes. Here’s what a representative at Walker Smith Body Shop in Snellville, Georgia, had to say when asked what car owners should look for in an auto repair shop:
“See what kind of guarantee they offer; a shop that stands behind their work is going to want to ensure the repair is done properly the first time.”
With this in mind, make sure to ask about repair warranties and get anything they state in writing. This can save you quite a few headaches down the road
Auto repair is a highly specialized field of work, requiring extensive training and a wide range of technical skills. Your future safety lies in the hands of the person repairing your vehicle, so it’s essential to inquire about the industry certifications held by any shops you’re considering.
Look for certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the Automotive Service Association (ASA), and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). These certifications ensure that technicians at the shop have met or surpassed vital qualifications to make repairs.
The types of parts used by an auto shop can significantly impact the price and quality of repairs made to your vehicle. There are also laws dictating which types of parts can be used after a motor vehicle accident. In Georgia, for example, the negligent driver’s insurance company must provide the victim with a vehicle that’s in the same condition as it was before the accident.
Because your vehicle was used, your auto body repair shop can probably make repairs with used parts. However, the quality still matters, especially if your car was relatively new before the accident. This is why Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts are typically the preferred choice among reputable auto body repair shops. Here’s what Anthony Taylor of Elite Auto Spa in Atlanta had to say:
“What is the #1 factor that people should take into account when choosing an auto repair shop after an accident? They should check if they use OEM parts, the warranty, and customer reviews. These are important when choosing an auto repair shop.”
When considering an auto repair shop, be sure to ask what parts they plan to use for your repairs. Some shops offer after-market parts made by companies other than your car’s manufacturer, but you have the right to refuse them. Due to their higher quality, OEM parts are usually a bit more expensive, but you could opt for recycled OEM parts to reduce the cost a bit.
Just make sure you check with your insurer or your lawyer first, as your insurance company may have specific requirements or limitations on parts they will cover. If you have any further questions, we invite you to reach out to our car accident law firm to request a free consultation today.