Do I Have to Use the Insurer’s Recommended Repair Shop?

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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Reviewed byLeslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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When you make an insurance claim, your insurance company might request you to use a specific repair shop. Do you have to use your insurer’s recommended repair shop? Or can you pick any repair shop?

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about choosing a repair shop for your insurance claim.

No, You Generally Don’t Have to Use the Recommended Repair Shop

Your insurance company might recommend a specific repair shop. However, you do not have to use this repair shop. It’s totally up to you to decide which repair shop you want to use.

In fact, many states require insurance companies to give policyholders a choice by law.

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Should You Choose your Insurer’s Recommended Repair Shop?

Do I Have to Use the Insurer's Recommended Repair Shop?Choosing your insurance company’s repair shop isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In many cases, these repair shops offer the best quality repairs in your area.

Insurance companies usually have contracts with body shops in your area. The insurance company might have negotiated lower labor costs and material rates, for example, as well as parts discounts.

Additionally, the insurance company has verified that the repair shop has met the company’s quality standards, which may include specific equipment and training requirements.

Plus, your insurance company is used to receiving claims forms from that repair shop. The repair shop’s employees know what the insurance company is looking for. There’s some familiarity. The claim should get completed without issue.

The repair shop and your insurance company have also established lines of communication. This can expedite your claim.

Generally, your insurance company will strongly recommend using their own repair shops. Insurance companies try to push at least 40% of customer claims through their direct repair shops. If you pick an alternative repair shop, a company representative might try to sway you away from your decision.

Should You Choose a Different Repair Shop?

Your insurance company’s adjuster might advise against choosing a different repair shop. It’s in the insurance company’s best interest to have you visit their direct repair shop – but is it the best decision for you?

Generally, as long as you choose a reputable repair shop, you should have no issues making an insurance claim. Some things to note about the decision include:

Most reputable repair shops offer a lifetime guarantee on repairs no matter who is paying the bill

Most reputable repair shops have firsthand experience dealing with insurance companies and have possibly even dealt with claims from your insurance company in the past

You may, however, get into trouble if you work with a shady repair shop that tries to inflate costs, lie about manufacturer’s parts, or engage in other suspicious activity. This could cause your insurance company to reduce your payout or deny your claim entirely.

Ask friends and family or check local review websites to find a reputable repair shop. Angie’s List is a great resource.

Benefits of Working with the Insurance Company’s Recommended Repair Shop

Overall, some of the benefits of working with the insurance company’s recommended repair shop include:

Faster Turnaround: Your insurance claim might get turned around faster. There are already lines of communication between the repair shop and your insurance company, and the repair shop knows the exact paperwork needed for your claim.

High-Quality Repairs: All reputable insurance companies exclusively work with reputable repair shops. Your insurer’s chosen repair shops have a history of providing high-quality repairs according to strict standards.

All Costs Covered: When you work with an unknown body shop, you run the risk of certain costs not being covered. The body shop’s labor costs might be slightly higher than what’s covered by your insurance company, for example. Or, the body shop might use manufacturer parts when your policy only covers aftermarket parts.

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Consider Getting an Estimate from an Independent Provider

If you’re worried about which body shop to choose, then consider getting an estimate from an independent provider.

An independent body shop can explain how much you can expect to pay to repair the damage, including the parts needed for the repairs, among other items.

If you can find an independent provider willing to do the repairs at a cheaper price, then you may even be able to take your insurance company’s money and pocket the difference. You’re allowed to do this.

Final Word

Generally, insurance companies want at least 40% of their claims to go to their direct repair shops. In the vast majority of cases, you are free to choose your own repair shop (many state laws require it). You do not have to use your insurance company’s recommended repair shop.

There are certain benefits to working with your insurance company’s repair shop. The repair shop might have better quality standards, for example. The claims process may also be easier because the company is familiar with the shop.

However, there are also advantages to choosing your own repair shop. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which repair shop to use for your insurance claim. However, working with your insurance company’s recommended shop is generally the best option.

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