Q: What should I do if I am involved in an accident?
A: No matter how minor, it is wise to report every accident to the police. Then, contact the collision repair shop of your choice. Advanced Auto Body can assist you with the processing of your claim, answer your questions, and advise you to ensure safe and proper repairs are made to your vehicle.
Q: Do I have to take my vehicle to a drive-in claims center or get multiple appraisals?
A: No. Your insurer must inspect the damage to your vehicle at your chosen collision repair shop rather than at their drive-in claims center. They are legally prohibited from coercing or using any tactics intended to prevent you from seeking damage appraisals from your own body shop rather than their drive-in facility. (1963 Consent Decree)
Q: What is “steering”?
A: Steering is the act of directing a claimant to or away from any specific repair shop or requiring that repairs be made by a specific repair shop or individual. Steering is illegal in California.
Q: How do I know if I am being steered?
A: If you are told that it will take longer to get your car repaired or cost more if you choose your own shop, BEWARE. You are probably being steered. Comments such as “We don’t pay that labor rate,” “We won’t reimburse paint materials”, ”We won’t guarantee the work if you bring the car there”, ”You will be responsible for the difference”, or “We will pay from our referred shops estimate”. California has strong consumer protection laws that require insurance companies to expedite appraisals within specific time frames, insurance companies are required to negotiate in good faith with any registered collision repair facility on the proper cost to repair the vehicle to pre-accident condition. You pay insurance premiums and contract to pay a specific deductible in the event that repairs are required. In effect, you’ve already paid for proper repairs. Don’t be intimidated. Steering is illegal in California.
Q: Why should I choose my own collision repair facility rather than one “suggested” by the insurance company?
A: There are compelling reasons to choose an independent, trusted repair shop that you know will make sure the vehicle is truly restored to its pre-accident condition. Insurance appraisers work for the insurance company. Independent auto collision repair facilities work for you. We are looking out for your best interest. We will negotiate directly with the insurance company for the proper repairs so that your vehicle is safe for you and your family. Advanced Auto Body will look out for your interests and will serve as your advocate in the repair process. Preferred or referral repair shops represent the insurance company in both negotiations and the repair of the vehicle. They contract with the insurance companies regarding the repairs, the costs and the repair procedures. The insurance company sets the rules and the repair shop simply follows them to keep the insurance companies’ cost down. These cost reductions have to come from somewhere. They may affect the quality and thoroughness of the repair service and/or quality and condition of the parts used. You have paid your insurance premiums with the expectation of receiving safe and proper repairs - not cheap imitations.
Q: What are imitation or non-OEM parts?
A: Imitation parts (AKA generic, aftermarket, quality replacement or non-original equipment manufacturer) are “knockoff” parts made by a company other than the manufacturer of your vehicle. These parts are made to look like your vehicles parts, but may never have been crash tested and are not covered under your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty. In its February 1999 issue, Consumer Reports published the results of its extensive study of non-OEM parts. The cover story was entitled, Shoddy Auto Parts: How to beat car repair rip-offs, Bumpers that shatter, Parts that do not fit, Fenders that rust. In addition to these concerns, there are no provisions for recalls based on the safety or performance of these parts. Your insurance company may attempt to use imitation parts to save money on your vehicle’s repairs. Advanced Auto Body will help you negotiate with your insurance company for the appropriate original equipment manufacturer’s parts to maintain the integrity and value of your vehicle.
Q: Who guarantees the workmanship for the repairs?
A: The repair facility is responsible for the workmanship. Insurance companies do not repair automobiles. If there is a concern, even with a facility selected by the insurance company, the facility itself is responsible. Every collision repair shop registered as a Motor Vehicle Repair Shop with California is required to be responsible for safe and proper repairs. If your insurance company claims “they will not guarantee the repairs”, do not worry. The repair facility must guarantee them, as required by law. If an insurance representative says they will guarantee a certain shops repairs, that shop is most likely to have a contract with that particular insurance company. Any guarantee is only as good as the issuing party's integrity. Advanced Auto Body has no motive to see you unhappy. We don’t get automatic referrals from insurance companies. We survive by the quality of our reputation through satisfied customers.
Q: What can I do if I believe my rights have been infringed upon by my insurance company?
A: You can file a written complaint with the California Office of Consumer Affairs. You can also file a complaint with the California State Insurance Department, the U.S. Justice Department, the Attorney General's Office of California, or the Better Business Bureau.
Q: What can I do to protect my rights?
A: Let your state representative and senator know how you feel about big business trying to take even more control of your life. Let them know that you value your rights and do not want to lose them. Remember, you pay for insurance. No one has the right to deny you the repairs necessary to restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition. It is important to voice your opinion and retain your rights! Our voice is small compared to that of the insurance companies’, but with your help we can protect your rights before its to late.
Q: The Insurance Company says I don’t need an attorney. Is this correct?
A: If you feel you are having problems that seem unfair, they probably are. An insurer that argues with a legitimate request is attempting to avoid fair settlement with you. They may have already violated your rights under your policy. An attorney can help you. Should any you need a free consultation regarding your right to collect on a loss, fell free to contact your attorney or an attorney familiar with auto property claims. Remember: not every attorney is willing or experienced in auto damage claims.