Insurance companies are obligated to restore your car to the same condition it was in before the accident. Issues of substandard repairs can still happen. This can refer to either the quality of work or the quaility of the parts used in the repair.
Quality of the Work
Most people have had an experience that has made them realize that not all repair shops are created equal. The quality of the work varies widely from shop to shop and from mechanic to mechanic. After the initial review by the adjuster and and she provides and estimate, your insurance company may recommend using a particular shop. Remember, your insurance company may ask that you use a certain shop, but you don't have to go there. If you do you use the repair shop suggested by the insurance company, the company must guarantee that the repairs were done using the best quality work and materials.
The closest thing to this are measurements given by manufacturers and efforts by organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and I-CAR, which provide and promote technical training in the repair industry. You can find information about garages in your area through word or mouth, internet searches, and through the ASE web site.
If you decide to use a garage that you find on your own, here are some things to look for:
- Up front about time frames of repairs and adhering to them
- Able to recommendations without extra charges or hassles
- Ask questions. If they don't provide answers or avoiyou find another shop
- Find out what happens if the car needs to come back for additional repairs. How willing are they to work with you if this happens?
Poor Repair Quality
If the repair shop refuses to correct a repair problem even though they're being paid for it, contact the insurance company for assistance. If the insurance company doesn't step up to help you, contact your state's department of insurance for help.
Quality of the Parts
There is a lot that can be said for using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts instead of aftermarket parts, which aren't made by the manufacturer. Although aftermarket and refurbished parts can be attractive because of their price, they aren't always the best quality. Depending on the state you live in, your insurance company may be required to pay for OEM parts. Frequently, OEM parts are required if they are connected to one of the vehicle's safety systems.
It is your right to request OEM parts if you want them. You can argue that in order to restore the car to the state it was in prior to the accident OEM parts are a necessity. If using an OEM part isn't required under state law and the terms of your insurance policy, you can insist that an OEM part be used, but you may have to pay the difference in cost of the OEM part out of your own pocket. Like poor quality work, use of an aftermarket part could diminish the value of your car.
Insurance companies can also request the "refurbished" parts be used. These are parts that were originally OEM, but are from used vehicles and have been refinished.
Substandard repairs can cost you the value of your vehicle down the road if you try to sell it. Your insurance company must restore your car back to the condition it was before the accident with either new parts from the manufacturer, OEM, refurbished or non-OEM parts. If your insurance carrier and state doesn't require OEM parts, you can pay the difference in price out of pocket.
Questions for Your Attorney:
- I used the repair shop that my insurance company recommended and my car was in worse shape than it was originally. Can I sue the insurance company or repair shop?
- I paid for OEM parts, but found out later on that they used refurbished parts. I paid the difference to use the more expensive part, what can I do to get my money back?
Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm
- Dealing With Insurance Companies
- Automobile Insurance articles and information
- Automobile Accidents articles and information
- Finding an Insurance Lawyer near you
- Visit our Insurance Claims message board for more help