Getting your car repaired after suffering vehicle damage in a crash can be extremely frustrating. On the one hand, another person’s carelessness is causing you to be inconvenienced and potentially face higher insurance premiums.
On the other hand, you may not know if your damaged car or truck is getting the highest quality repair services and parts from the repair shop your auto insurer is pressuring you to use.
The situation can be very similar to what people who have been physically injured in a crash have to go through. With personal injuries, auto insurers will send auto accident victims to “hired gun” doctors to perform so-called “independent medical examinations” (or IMEs) in order to find reasons to cut-off the person’s No-Fault insurance benefits and, thus, save the insurance company money.
Many car accident victims find that the same thing is true with some collision repair shops: They are so beholden to certain insurers because of their need for a steady stream of business that repairs are driven by what is good for profits and keeping costs down, but not what is good for their customers and their vehicles. The end result is that drivers pay top dollar for collision coverage, but wind up with cut-rate, cheap and inferior parts.
What are your car accident repair rights?
Even though your auto insurance company and/or your adjuster is telling you - or strongly and repeatedly suggesting to you - who they think would be best to repair your vehicle, you have the right to choose the repair shop of your choice.
Michigan law specifically prohibits your insurer from “telling” you where to go to get your vehicle damage repaired:
“An automobile insurance policy and an automobile insurer and its employees, agents, and adjusters shall not unreasonably restrict an insured from using a particular person, place, shop, or entity for the providing of any automobile repair or automobile glass repair or replacement service or product covered by the policy.” (MCL 500.2110b(1))
To drive home the point that the choice is yours as to what collision repair shop to use, Michigan law requires that your auto insurer disclose the following to you when you make a vehicle-damage repair claim:
The unfortunate reality is that auto insurance companies will frequently neglect to carry their obligations under the law, thereby preventing people in your situation from making informed decisions about how to fix their accident-related vehicle damage.
Recommendations for collision insurance
We recommend that people purchase one of the two following types of collision coverage insurance to pay for crash-related vehicle damage:
Broad form collision coverage: Your auto insurance company will pay for vehicle damage repairs regardless of whether you caused the accident and your deductible will be waived if you were 50% or less at-fault for the crash.
Standard form collision coverage: As with broad form, vehicle damage repair costs will be paid regardless of fault, but you will still have to pay the deductible even if you were not at-fault.
What should you do if the insurance estimate is lower than the repair shop estimate?
Unfortunately, you only really have three options if your auto insurance company refuses to accept the repair estimate from the collision shop you chose:
Try to convince your auto insurance company to increase its estimate
Try to convince your auto insurance to cover what the repair shop has estimated the costs to be
Get estimates from other repair shops
Tell your insurer that you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket for the difference between the estimates