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If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll have a lot of things to take care of. You may need medical attention, and your car may need repairs. Your insurance company will likely strongly recommend a repair or body shop for the work if it’s covered under your auto insurance policy, and while this may be the path of least resistance, it’s not always the best choice. Many people also wonder if they have to take their car to the place their insurer recommends.
The short answer is no. However, there are some benefits to doing so. There are also some drawbacks. Here’s how to weigh the pros and cons.
The repair process is usually quicker. Dealing with an insurance agency for repair or medical reimbursements can take a while. When you choose your insurer’s recommended repair shop, paperwork is often processed more quickly, and the payment goes directly to the body shop, so you don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket.
The work is warrantied. Body shops that are “in network” with your car insurance should be reputable establishments that offer a lifetime warranty for their repair work. While this is definitely a pro, it’s also the case for any reputable repair shop, even those you find yourself.
Follow-up repairs will be easier. Since auto insurance companies have nationwide coverage, they will be able to point you to a shop no matter where you are. And if you need more repairs down the line, you don’t have to worry about traveling back to the same shop if the original repair shop was out of state.
The shop might choose cost-effectiveness over quality. Body shops that have a relationship with your insurer will be working toward the most cost-effective solution, which may lead to lower-quality repairs.
You miss out on your mechanic’s knowledge. If you have a regular mechanic, you’ll probably want to take your car to them for repairs since they already know your vehicle. If you choose an in-network shop, you’ll miss out on this opportunity, and the process may take longer since they aren’t already familiar with your car.
You may have to negotiate with your insurer. Your insurer may try to save money by second-guessing the repair at an out-of-network shop. You’ll likely have to provide documentation to your insurer and spend time on the phone negotiating the coverage.