Insurance companies, though they are not supposed to, have numerous tactics to convince motorists that they need to utilize the services of a collision center with which they have an agreement, or a direct repair shop. After an accident, you are under no obligation to take your vehicle to the shop of their choosing. In order to help you stay in control, we have a list of the top 5 insurance company steering tactics so you can know what to expect when trying to decide where to have your car repaired.
Your convenience – After an accident, your world is in a panic. Once you know that everyone is ok, your mind moves to your busy schedule. You may ask yourself, “How am I going to get where I need to go while my car is being repaired?” This is where your insurance company can make it seem like they are doing you a huge favor. “Just leave everything to us,” they may say. You might hear something like, “if you go to XYZ body shop, we can get your car inspected and get you in a rental immediately.” This is often contrasted with the hindrance and ordeal of opting for the repair center of your choosing. When you tell your insurance representative that you have selected a body shop, they may counter with the possibility of a delay in getting your car inspected or in getting you into a rental.
Out of pocket expense – Another tactic to steer their clients to Direct Repair shops is the threat that if they don’t use them, there is the possibility that the variance in price quotes won’t be covered. For example, the price of a replacement part may be $1000, but the insurance company knows that they can get it for $800 at a direct repair shop, so they may tell the customer that they’ll cover the $800, but the remaining $200 would have to come out of their pocket.
Refusal of certain services – Worse than suggesting the customer would be responsible for any difference in price, there have been occasions where the insurance company has told customers that for various reasons they won’t cover a certain aspect of the repair. They will say, “we can cover X and Y, but not Z.” That is followed by, “but if you were to take your car to a shop we have approved to handle that type of repair…”
Voided warranty – Another threat the insurance company may attempt is to not offer, or void a warranty on a repair unless the customer uses their approved direct repair shop. This threat is outright bogus and should be ignored from the start. The insurance company doesn’t warranty anything. The shop does! In spite of that fact, this is often a deciding factor in choosing a repair shop as the threat of potentially being “on the hook” for future repairs can weight a decision.
They practice how they play – the insurance companies have the same line over and over again. As their representatives continually stick to the same script, their pitch gets more and more rehearsed. The more rehearsed, the more the customer will hear it as if everything they are saying is a matter of routine, not to be questioned, and is on the up and up.
Of course, all steering tactics are illegal. If your insurance company is trying to steer you to a particular body shop, you need to know your rights and call the shop that makes you feel comfortable. Your insurance company must allow you to take your vehicle to the shop of your choice and still pay for the repair as dictated by your policy. If you choose a shop outside of their direct repair network, you will not be sacrificing the any facet of service. In reality, you will be gaining as you will be the customer as opposed to the insurance company being the customer.