Insurance and Collision Repair in Baton Rouge: 3 Misconceptions

Posted by Chris Medine on May 29, 2019 10:39:00 PM

collision repair baton rouge

If you have ever been involved in an auto accident, you have most likely received a list of “preferred” auto body repair shops from your insurance company. While it may initially seem like the easiest route to use one of these direct-repair program (DRP) shops, it’s important to consider all of your options.  Keep in mind that insurance companies and repair shops that develop this relationship have someone’s best interest in mind, but it may not be yours.  More than likely, what you will get in return for your business are pre-negotiated rates and corner-cutting repairs.

There are a few factors that may steer you toward your insurance company’s “preferred” shop.  For instance, you may be led to believe that you simply don’t have the choice to select another repair shop, that your repairs are not covered under warranty if taken elsewhere, or that your repairs will happen more quickly at a DRP shop.  In the stressful time that follows an auto accident, it may seem like the logical choice to move forward with the recommended repair center.  However, these statements are not necessarily true.  Let’s take a look at each of these misconceptions.

Who Provides the Warranty on Replacement Parts?

Insurance companies often lead policyholders to believe that replacement parts will only be covered under warranty if you choose one of their direct-repair partners.  However, this warranty is often unnecessary and should have no bearing on your final decision.  Most manufacturers will guarantee their parts, and reputable shops will guarantee their work.  Medines, for instance, offers lifetime written warranties for body work.

Can You Choose Where Your Car is Repaired?

Many major insurance agencies are guilty of “steering” clients.  They lead them to believe that they only have the option to use one of their preferred shops for their auto body repairs.  This is not only untrue, but in most cases, it is also illegal.  You and only you will have the final say in where your car is repaired.  Get recommendations; do your homework, and go with the shop you are most comfortable with.

Do Direct Repair Shops Complete Work Faster?

You may be told that claims adjusters can get to your vehicle more quickly or that your repairs will be completed faster at a DRP shop.  In actuality, adjusters will still see your car in a timely manner, and any small differences in time and speed are often tied directly to the insurance company themselves.  In the end, a quality repair and peace of mind are well worth any additional time.

Auto accidents can be stressful and confusing situations.  Choosing a collision repair center that you are comfortable with and can fully trust will help alleviate your concerns.  Don’t be swayed by your insurance company to choose a body repair shop you are not completely at ease with.  The relationship developed between preferred repair shops and insurance companies is rarely one that benefits the consumer.

At Medines Collision Center, we are customer-focused and pride ourselves on bringing you the highest quality work available.  We provide first-rate parts, materials, and labor.  What your vehicle truly needs, not what your insurance company wants, will dictate your repairs.  If you are in an accident, remember that you have a choice.  Take control.  Choose Medines.

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Topics: Insurance

How is My Auto Insurance Company "Steering" Me?

Posted by Chris Medine on Mar 20, 2019 10:57:26 AM

insurance steeringSteering and cars go hand-in-hand, but steering and your auto insurance provider should not.  While steering your vehicle can keep you on course, being steered by your insurer can lead you down a path of lower quality auto body repairs. 

What is Auto Insurance “Steering”?

When your car insurance company “steers” you, they are directing you toward a chosen body shop where they would prefer your repairs be completed.  These are known as Direct Repair Programs, or DRPs.  While you have the right to choose any collision center you would like, there are certain tactics that your insurer may use to encourage the choice of a DRP.  This may include claims that the work will be completed more quickly at a DRP or that they will not guarantee the work of a non-DRP shop.  These classic steering techniques are just a couple of those used to ensure you choose their preferred shop and save them money as a result.

What are Direct Repair Programs?

An auto body shop who participates as a DRP has entered into an agreement with insurance providers.  For the shop and insurance company, this relationship can be mutually beneficial to both businesses.  Insurance companies send the body shop business, and the body shop provides repairs within a negotiated budget.  In fact, the only party who does not stand to benefit from a DRP relationship is the consumer.

Why Do Car Insurance Companies “Steer” Clients?

Although DRP repairs often mean lower levels of quality and safety, insurers continue to maintain these relationships for one simple reason: profit.  By negotiating lower rates for parts and labor with a DRP participating shop, the company can be certain to keep their costs low and minimize the impact auto body repairs have on their bottom line.  Unfortunately, in order to meet these budget guidelines, collision centers will then turn to lower quality parts and hastily performed repairs.

How Does Auto Insurance “Steering” Hurt Clients?

You pay for car insurance and auto maintenance in an effort to keep your vehicle in good working order and to help ensure the safety of yourself and your passengers.  When an insurer steers you to using a shop that they know values quantity over quality, they are taking away the reliability of your vehicle and impeding your own safety as a driver. 

Steering and the related consequences are perfect examples of why it is so important for drivers to exercise their right of choice.  Regardless of what your insurance company may say, you have the right to choose all of your providers, from towing company to body shop, following an accident.

In Baton Rouge, Medines Collision Center is the auto advisor you can trust.  We have decades of experience in auto body repair and insurance negotiations.  We are familiar with their many steering tactics and refuse to participate in any type of DRP.  Instead, we believe quality repairs and consumer education are the best gifts we can give our clients.  

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Topics: Insurance

Insurance Photo Apps: The Hidden Dangers

Posted by Chris Medine on Mar 15, 2019 10:22:00 AM

Closeup of female hand using a smart phone. Shallow depth of fieldYou’ve probably always heard that you should take pictures of your vehicle’s damage immediately following an accident.  It’s a logical step in a defined process that consists of claims adjusters, insurance companies, and body shops.  Today, however, some insurers are attempting to circumvent certain steps in this process by rolling those consumer photos and the adjuster’s job all into one.

 

How do Insurance Photo Apps Work?

Photo apps are among the latest products promoted by auto insurance companies.  Along the lines of self-service car washes and self-checkouts at the grocery store, these apps are putting responsibility directly into the hands of consumers.  Rather than sending out an insurance adjuster to assess the damage and engage with your collision center in a dialogue surrounding your vehicle and repairs, these apps allow consumers to upload their photos directly and receive claim estimates and even checks based on the images.

What’s the Problem with Insurance Photo Apps?

Unfortunately, unlike your grocery store’s self-checkout, insurance photo apps can end up being not only less convenient, but costly in the long run.  It is impossible for anyone to fully assess the damage and associated cost of a vehicle through photos or video alone.  Not only does the average driver not know exactly what damage to look for, there is often underlying damage that is unknown until parts of the car are removed. 

Most frightening, some unaware consumers accept claim settlements based on their photos.  Once your claim is settled, you have forfeited the ability to get a larger payout, even if your vehicle’s damage is determined to be more extensive and costly once in the shop.

Your Auto Insurance Rights

Even if your insurer provides products such as photo apps, you are not obligated to use them.  You have the right to have your vehicle seen by an adjuster and to negotiate your claim, just as you have the right to choose your own collision center.

At Medines Collision Center, we encounter insurance tactics to lower claims daily.  We understand all the ins and outs of the process, as well as what a quality repair of your vehicle will actually cost.  If you feel intimidated or unsure about the claims process following an accident, let us be your advisors.  Contact Medines to learn more about what we can do to help.

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Topics: Insurance

5 Surprising Factors that Affect Car Insurance Rates

Posted by Chris Medine on Feb 26, 2019 12:05:39 PM

5 surprising factors that affect car insurance ratesPurchasing car insurance is a major component of owning a vehicle. Not only does it help protect you and your assets in the event of an accident, it’s also required by law.  Still, that doesn’t make paying those premiums any easier, particularly in Louisiana, where they are 56 percent higher than the national average. 

As it turns out, there are several factors that go into determining just how much protecting your vehicle will cost you, some of which are beyond your control. Read on to find out what might be factoring into your rate and what you can do to lower costs.

Gender, Age, and Car Insurance Rates

Younger people – those in their teens and early twenties – tend to have higher car insurance rates because of their lack of experience behind the wheel and higher risk of being involved in an accident. Young males are statistically involved in accidents more often than their female counterparts; therefore, their rates are higher. However, older men generally have better rates than older women. Some evidence suggests that older women get into more accidents than men, though the difference isn’t significant.

Marital Status and Auto Insurance

Married couples tend to get into fewer accidents than singles; therefore, getting married could significantly lower your rate if you have a clean driving history. If you are a man who has never gotten into an accident, you could see your rate almost cut in half.

Credit Score Impact on Car Insurance

Your credit score can also be used to determine your car insurance rate. In general, lower credit scores mean higher insurance premiums and higher scores mean lower premiums.  This can be attributed the perceived financial risks associated with a lower credit score.

Vehicle Size and Insurance Cost

Larger vehicles are more likely to provide protection in the event of an accident. If your car has a good safety rating, the premium is most likely much lower than that of smaller cars. Cars with larger engines relative to their size will generally have much higher premiums as well.

Car’s Age and Insurance Premiums

Older cars are likely to require an expensive amount of repairs in the event of an accident. Most people opt to buy a new vehicle instead of shelling out more money than the older car is worth. Because of this and the fact that newer cars are not as likely to be ‘totaled,’ new cars generally have much higher collision rates.

Regardless of the premiums associated with your own auto insurance, the end goal is always the same: to keep you safe on the road.  At Medines Collision Center, we are experts in not only auto body repair, but auto insurance and claims.  If you’ve been in an accident and are overwhelmed by the process, we can help!

 

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Topics: Insurance

Renting a Car After an Auto Accident: What You Should Know

Posted by Chris Medine on Jan 25, 2019 10:39:00 AM

renting a car after a wreck

The days, weeks, and even months following a car wreck can be a difficult time.  There are insurance matters to sort through, vehicles that need to be repaired, and possibly even medical appointments and bills that must be taken care of.  The added strain can be a lot to handle, especially when left suddenly without transportation. 

Of the millions of accidents that occur each year, many require extensive repairs,  with between 15 and 20% being declared a total loss.  For the motorists who find themselves in this situation, the additional time without a vehicle leaves them with few other options than a rental car.  However, determining how to get a rental and the associated cost may not always be clear.  Here is what you need to know before securing your rental:

Will My Insurance Cover the Cost of My Rental?

If you have opted in for rental reimbursement coverage through your auto insurance provider, you will be covered up to a set daily allotment for a rental car.  In some cases, you may find that your insurance company has an agreement with a particular rental car facility.  This does not require you to use them.  Much like where you choose to have your car repaired, the choice of what company to use for your rental is up to you.  If you find that your insurance company’s recommended provider is unable to get a rental to you in a timely manner, you have the right to choose another.  

If the accident was the fault of another party and you do not have rental reimbursement coverage, the insurance of the at-fault driver will be responsible for your rental car.  To authorize this rental, the insurance company will first determine liability, a process which could take several days.

 How Long Can I Keep My Rental Car?

This is determined by the company paying for your rental car.  Typically, the car is available to you until your repairs are completed.  If your car is determined to have been totaled, most companies will allow you to keep the rental for up to five days after your settlement offer has been accepted.

 What Do I Need To Obtain a Rental Car?

In order to obtain your rental, you should bring in your insurance coverage which, depending on your policy, may prevent you from having to buy insurance directly from the rental company.  You will also need a valid form of payment such as cash or credit and your driver’s license.

The time following a car wreck can be incredibly stressful and confusing.  Many aren’t aware of what steps to take next and how to ensure that they handle all aspects of the situation appropriately.  By leaving your vehicle in the capable hands of a collision repair center like Medines Collision Center, you can be confident in the quality of repairs and honesty of your technician.  Furthermore, by educating yourself and understanding how to secure a rental car, there will be no need to worry about transportation while your repairs are being completed.

If you have been in an accident, remember that you have the right to choose where your car is taken for repairs.  Medines is a leader in collision repair in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas, and our trustworthy and knowledgeable team of experts is here to help.  

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Topics: Insurance

Delay, Deny, Defend: An Insurance Tactic You Need to Be Aware Of

Posted by Chris Medine on Jun 19, 2018 12:36:00 PM

delay deny defendCar insurance premiums are an investment. We pay them for the security that, following an accident, we will be taken care of by our insurer, and we will be put back on the road in a timely and fair manner.

However, many people find themselves in sticky situations following a car accident. The stress of what follows can be staggering. You are likely dealing with body shops, collision centers, and rental companies.  You may even be shopping for a new car or possibly doctors and specialists for any injuries you may have sustained during the collision.

Although your insurance company is supposed to be there, a common tactic that these companies use is called “delay, deny, defend,” and it’s about as comforting as it sounds. It’s important to understand this tactic so that, in the event of an accident, you can be equipped to conduct yourself in a manner that will ensure t you will be returned to your pre-loss condition with the settlement and claims you deserve.

What is Delay, Deny, Defend?

Very quickly during the claims resolution process, you will likely notice your insurer’s tactic to delay paying out claims, even though they may be justified. This aggravating ploy is used in hopes that you will become impatient and frustrated and thereby willing to accept less when your settlement is offered.

While the insurance company is taking their sweet time, they are also seeking out any legal loopholes that can allow them to deny your claims. Although these claims are likely completely justified, your insurance company may attempt to deter you from seeking out the compensation to which you are entitled.

When your settlement is issued, and it is far less than what you need, deserve, or were expecting, you will then be forced to pay out-of-pocket or seek out legal counsel in order to defend your claims in court. Court costs are expensive and may end up hurting you in the end. There is no guarantee that you will win your case which could leave you still behind on the settlement but also having to pay legal fees and the lawyer hired for your case.

Why would an insurance company Delay, Deny, and Defend?

There is a simple answer to this question: money. The less an insurance company spends on claims, the more profit they gain. Insurance companies are a business at the end of the day, and the higher the profit, the more that they can spend on things like advertising, new facilities, perks and bonuses. Suddenly, the company you’ve been paying to protect your assets seems less like a good neighbor and more like a big bully.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself Against the Delay, Deny, Defend Tactic?

Awareness of this tactic is your best defense.  Know that the claims process can be arduous and time-consuming and that the initial settlement offer will rarely be the best you can get.  Most importantly, understand that no matter what, you are in control. Your insurance company, despite any attempts to intimidate or persuade you, is legally required to meet all justified claims and restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition.

While we at Medines cannot be there for every step, we can at least be a breath of fresh air following the chaos of a car accident. We can’t guarantee your insurance company will treat you fairly, but what we can guarantee is quality repairs, complete transparency, and knowledgeable aid in the confusing world of insurance claims and consumer rights.

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Topics: Insurance

Lowering Car Insurance Rates Without Affecting Coverage In Louisiana

Posted by Chris Medine on May 22, 2017 8:43:02 AM

Lowering Car Insurance Rates Without Affecting Coverage In LouisianaWhen was the last time you took a good look at your auto insurance policy? Since it is something we have to have and never want to use, many people don’t pay much attention to it and just biannually renew their policy without giving it a second’s thought. But if you are paying attention, you have probably noticed that over the last few years, rates have increased dramatically. To make matters worse, more rate increases are currently in the works.

There are many reasons for the increases; more drivers on the road and too many distractions behind the wheel are two of the main contributors to the hike in rates. Regardless of the reason, increased rates are causing some motorists to rethink their coverage. Scaling back the amount of coverage you carry is not ideal, so we wanted to explore a few ideas for lowering car insurance rates without affecting coverage in Louisiana.

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Are you eligible for a multiple vehicle discount?

Is your vehicle on the same policy as your spouse’s or your child’s vehicle? If not, consolidating policies and asking about a multiple vehicle discount could be a quick way to save money on your car insurance.

Are age based discounts available?

If you have had the same policy or been with the same provider for a number of years, it may be time to ask about an age based discount. Average insurance rates drop dramatically as you get older. If your insurer doesn’t automatically adjust your policy as you move into a new age bracket, you should ask them about it.

Can you get a discount for a clean driving record?

Most insurers are now offering a safe driver discount. Basically, this rewards you for proving day in and day out that you are responsible and competent behind the wheel. However, not all insurance companies are making this discount automatic. Ask your agent if they have any kind of incentives that can be added to your policy based on your driving record.

Is there a discount for driving less than the average person?

This one is simple math for your insurance company, the fewer miles you drive in a year, the less risk you are exposed to on the road. Track your mileage and report it to your insurance company. If you are on the road less than the average American, you should be eligible for a discount.

Don’t be afraid to comparison shop.

Finding quotes for car insurance has never been easier than it is right now. Even if you are happy with your insurance company and don’t want to switch, it can’t hurt to show them what is out there and ask them to offer something more competitive.

At Medine’s, we put an emphasis on our customers knowing their rights when it comes to their coverage. Part of that is knowing your options when it comes to getting that coverage. If you have any concerns about your current policy, our team would be happy to help answer any questions you may have.

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Topics: Insurance

Top 5 insurance company steering tactics

Posted by Chris Medine on Apr 23, 2015 1:52:55 PM

Post Accident CallInsurance 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.

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Topics: Insurance