We manage up to $100,000 in bodywork per month and have learned more than we ever intended about the tricks and traps of auto insurance, at least from the claims side. From the customer perspective, picking an insurer is often strictly a cost consideration. You should also consider what happens when you actually need the insurance.
Biggest Trick of the Trade
The industry is pushing towards Direct Repair Program (DRP) shops or “preferred” body shops. The insurers push repairs towards those shops in exchange for deep discounts on pricing. These shops tend to be high volume chains with low quality repairs. The insurance company will claim they can’t guarantee the repair, but it should be the body shop that is guaranteeing the repairs! By law, the insurer CANNOT require you to utilize their “preferred” shops. If you take nothing else from this article, know that you have the right to decide who fixes your vehicle. If you take your car to the shop that you (or Brazelton Auto) chooses, the body shop works for you, not the other way around when you take it to a “preferred” shop.
Insurance Companies Ranked
There is a wide variety of claims quality, depending on your insurer. I define claims quality as speed of processing the claim and the use of OEM (original equipment) parts. Below is a spectrum of how we would (very un-scientifically) rank the major insurers in the area from a claims quality perspective;
You’ll notice a widespread between Chubb and Pure and the rest of the pack. That’s intentional. Both company’s claims processes are very consumer and shop friendly. The claims process is fast and efficient, and they don’t try to push foreign, aftermarket replacement parts.
Surprisingly, oftentimes the new car dealer is not the best place to go. Body shops are usually the stepchild of the dealership world, and it’s easier to get away with sloppy body work than poor mechanical repairs. There is a major luxury dealership chain here in Houston that is well known for their poor quality paint and body work, along with customer service.
Don’t know which body shop to use? Give us a call. We work with multiple body shops in the area that range on quality and cost depending on what you need. Which shop we would suggest would depend on the age/value of the vehicle, whether it’s insurance or out of pocket, and other considerations.