Here are some answers to questions that are often not answered until a repair is completed.
Where do I get my car fixed?
You have the right to have your vehicle repaired anywhere YOU choose. The insurance company can only recommend a repair facility. They cannot demand you to go anywhere for repairs. They may ask you to go somewhere for the estimate but that still doesn’t obligate you to have your vehicle repaired there. That choice is totally up to you.
If my car is involved in an accident and can’t be driven where should it go?
Many people have the car towed home or let the towing contractor or police decide where it goes. Actually the car should go directly to your repair shop of choice. This allows the repair process to move more swiftly and prevents unnecessary towing or storage charges to accumulate. Remember, if the vehicle is not driveable there is a towing charge EVERY TIME it’s moved. Also if it’s at a place where it will not be repaired, it WILL collect storage charges that must be satisfied before the car can be moved to the place of repair. These additional charges will increase the cost of repairs.
Do I need the police and an accident report if I have an accident?
It’s always a good idea to get the police involved even if it’s a minor accident. Many people like to “handle” it themselves but many don’t follow through. With the police and an accident report there is less chance of the responsible party not being held liable. Also, most insurance companies use the accident report to place blame. Without it you’ll probably be using your own insurance if you are covered. Liability insurance will not fix your car; it only fixes the other person’s.
How long does it take for the insurance company to see my car?
If you are the insured (using your insurance) it should be fairly quick, usually 7 business days is the average by law. But make sure you’ve filed a claim or else they don’t know you’re in need of them. If you’re the claimant (using the other person’s insurance) it could take much longer. Again make sure you make a claim against the other company and follow up on it weekly with them or your insurance agent until you get results.
What do I do if there is another party (ex: bank, lien holder) named on my insurance check?
You should check your insurance check/draft as soon as you receive it. If a lien holder is named on the check, they must sign off (endorse) before the check can be cashed by anyone. This process can take considerable time. If the check is presented to the shop and it’s not signed off, a shop may not release the vehicle until this is done. This would ultimately lengthen the time you will be without the vehicle or increase rental costs. You need to contact the financial institution to find out their procedure to sign off. Each company has their own criteria for this process. Most times the check will need to be mailed to them with supporting documentation. Then after they endorse it, they will mail it back to you. Now you can see why early resolution of endorsement will save a lot of time in the end.
When do I pay my insurance deductible (your portion of the repair as per your agreement with your insurance company)?
Most policies state at the time of completion of repairs. You can pre-pay if you would like but this is not necessary. Deductibles vary among insureds but everybody has one. When a shop is asked to “save” a deductible, this ultimately results in some repairs not being done or repairs being done in place of new parts. Also this act constitutes as insurance fraud because not all the repairs described by the estimate are being performed. This also could compromise the performance and safety of the vehicle.
What is a “D.R.P.”?
A “DRP” is a Direct Repair Program. This is an insurance term and goes under various titles. Basically its an agreement between an insurance company and a repair facility. A shop performs repairs under guidelines set by the insurance company. At no time are these guidelines going to affect the quality of the repair. In fact the insurance company will conduct quality control inspections on the shop. This is to ensure they are doing all that is stated in the estimate, in a timely fashion and for a quality repair. An insurance company may send you to their DRP shop for the estimate process. You do not have to have your vehicle repaired there. That choice is totally up to you. But if you decide to use the “program” shop, it should speed up the total repair process. Most shops are a DRP for at least one insurance company although some may have multiple programs.
What happens if my car is a “total loss”?
A total loss occurs when 75% of the damage meets or exceeds the vehicles value. For the insured: If you have collision coverage, most companies will award you the book value minus your deductible plus NYS Sales Tax. Book value can be a very varied amount. It is in your best interest to have some idea what your car is worth before the insurance company awards a pay out. The final figure will come from the insurance company. Do your homework.
For the claimant: As long as the other insurance company accepts liability, the process is the same as above. The only difference is there is no deductible involved. So the equation would be book value plus NYS Sales tax. There are certain circumstances where you can keep the vehicle but they vary widely by law and companies policies. You would need to contact the claims handler directly to see if that is a possibility if you choose to do so.
What are the steps a car goes through to be repaired?
After the estimate is written and agreed upon by the shop and Insurance Company or customer and the customer authorizes repair, we schedule an appointment and order parts. If all goes well, the correct parts are at the shop when the appointment comes. Then the repair process can begin.
- The car is taken into the Body repair section and the tech checks the work order against the damage on the car so they know what to repair. Next they get the parts (if any) and check them for correctness and damage.
- The tech begins the actual repair. Some dismantling and unibody correction would be first, if necessary. Next preparation of new body panels, repair of panels and further disassembly would commence.
- Once new panels have been installed, or existing ones repaired, the vehicle will move to the Mechanical department for suspension repair, electrical repair, A/C recharge or what ever necessary components need repair.
- Once all those procedures are completed the vehicle moves into the Paint dept. There the vehicle is “prepped” for paint. New panels and/or repaired panels are sanded. The area’s cleaned, blended panels are prepared and the vehicle masked for refinishing. Next it is moved into the spray booth. The painter mixes the paint as per a color code from your vehicle. The color is checked for a match, adjusted (seldom is this necessary) and then they paint the vehicle. Once completed, the refinished vehicle’s paint finish is baked and when fully cured it’s unmasked and moved to the Detail department.
Note: Sometimes steps 3 & 4 are reversed due to scheduling conflicts.
- Now the final steps to completing the repair will take place. Any detail needed to the paint finish is performed. All parts removed to do the painting, are replaced. A road test is performed if warranted and then the entire vehicle is cleaned. Inside is cleaned, dusted and vacuumed. Outside is washed, dried and the repaired and adjacent panels polished.
- A final quality control check is performed to ensure all work was done, was done properly and the vehicle is repaired up to the standards demanded by the OEM.
Note: This is if all goes right in a perfect world. Damaged or wrong parts, hidden damage, absenteeism, scheduling conflicts and/or any unforseen event can really disrupt this order. It can be a long process if there is considerable damage. One “glitch” can really mess up the works. Most repairers try to return your vehicle to you as timely as possible but we do ask for your patience as we repair your vehicle. Some repairs take longer than others but foremost auto repair shops strive for the highest quality repair possible. Any repair facility you choose should be able to answer any of your questions that arise when you’ve had an accident. Remember to keep asking until you are satisfied. Shops work with insurance companies everyday but you don’t have an accident very often (hopefully). Visit our Auto Body Shop Blog for help in some of these areas.