You’re automobile insurance carrier may be your “good neighbor” and “on your side,” and you may even feel like you’re “in good hands” with them, but you should never forget that your insurance company is in the business of making a profit, and that means they may not have your best interests at heart after an accident! Statistics show that no matter how well you drive, most people will generally have an accident every 13 years or so. (Why does this make us nervous?) Because a car accident doesn’t happen on a regular basis (we hope), it isn’t an event we’re generally prepared for, thus – we’re not always sure what to do first. You may think that calling your insurance company first is what you should do, but, ironically, it might not be the best idea, for the reason we stated above. Here are our suggestions for a few calls you might want to make first – before you call your insurance company!
1. Try calling your mechanic: If you have a car mechanic that you’ve been with for years and developed a relationship with – give them a call first. They know your car, they know you, and you trust them. If you can drive the car in, they can take a look at it and give you their advice. If you can’t drive the car in, and you really do have a good relationship with them, they may even go out to take a look at it for you, before anyone else (like your insurance adjustor) can get to it. They will know how to make sure your claim is accurately entered and be able to advise you on estimates and options.
2. Try calling the dealership that specializes in your vehicle: If you have an Audi, you don’t want your insurance company to try and force you into taking your car to a body shop that only handles American cars. Yes, dealerships are more costly for everything, but they can tell you what parts you should use, and even which shops handle certain makes on either a primary or exclusive basis.
3. Try calling at least three different auto and body repair shops: Unless you have an insurance policy with the most obscure insurance company no one’s ever heard of, your policy allows you to chose who you want to fix your car. Insurance companies will often gloss over this and make it seem like you don’t have a choice by giving you their list of auto/body repair shops, as if these were the only ones you can call. But it’s your car – you get to choose. You may want to ask around and get referrals, or look at reviews, or whatever – but find and call at least three places before you decide on one. Ask if they are certified. Ask if they specialize in the make and model of your car. Check their credentials. Don’t make the mistake of letting your insurance company take full control of the entire repair process, although that will seem like a very attractive idea when you just want to put the whole ordeal behind you. Your car is an investment; don’t lose money on it!