Auto Body Repair – Should you pay out of pocket or through insurance?
If you have ever gotten into a minor fender bender, you may have been surprised when you saw the bill for auto collision repair. Body work is unlike other types of car repair. It not only requires the right tools, but it takes a steady hand and an eye for detail. If your car needs body work or painting, it is definitely worth the trouble to find a good repair shop that will do the work right, rather than hiding the problem and sticking you with a huge bill. In addition to finding the right shop, you have to decide how to pay for the repair. Even if you have full coverage auto insurance, you may still be left with a lingering question when it comes to auto body repair – should you pay out of pocket or through insurance?
Increases in Your Premiums
One of the reasons that you might consider paying for the repair yourself is that you want to avoid having your insurance premiums go up. This is especially true if you already have a high deductible policy. For example, if your deductible is $1000, but the repair will only be a couple hundred dollars more than that (or a couple hundred dollars less), you will certainly end up paying more than your share in the long run if you decide to go through insurance. When there weren’t any resulting injuries, or if there wasn’t another car involved in the collision, you may also consider paying out of pocket.
Of course, sometimes the damage is extensive and having the insurance company pay for repairs is really the only way to go. Whenever you are considering taking your car to an auto body shop, cost can be a major factor in your decision of whether or not to pay for the repair yourself.
Choose Your Shop and Your Repair
When it comes to car repairs, many insurance companies have a pre-approved list of businesses for you to choose. Even if this is the case, it is absolutely essential that you work with a shop that you trust. If you have experience working with a shop that consistently does great work and charges reasonable prices, it may be worth paying for the repair yourself, rather than going through an approved repair shop that you don’t really trust. In many cases, the approved shops may be tempted to take shortcuts with your car in order to do the repair within the rate parameters that the insurance company has set.
Before you decide on a certain repair shop, visit several different shops so that you can find out about your options. Most experts would recommend that you get at least three collision repair estimates so that you can feel confident that you are choosing a shop that is charging a reasonable price. Additionally, check into the background of the shop. Take time to find out about complaints that others have lodged against the company so that you have a better idea of what you are getting in to.
Another thing to consider is the fact that many insurance companies want auto body repair shops to use less expensive generic parts or salvage parts. If you choose to pay for the repair yourself, consider requesting original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts that will be a perfect match for your vehicle.
When a Repair Isn’t Covered
There are certain occasions when the insurance company does not cover a repair or a replacement that you consider to be necessary. This may be the case if you don’t have full coverage insurance or if the damage was caused by an incident that was outside of the realm of your policy. Rather than just “making due” with a damaged car, it is in your best interest to pay for the repair. Cars that are damaged can be unsafe to drive and can potentially put your life and the lives of your passengers at risk.
If you are concerned about paying more towards the repair of your car than it is worth, consider checking the official value of the vehicle. Look up how much it would be in excellent condition and compare that number to the price of the repair.
Use common sense when you decide whether to pay out of pocket or to turn your repair bill over to insurance. By considering the long term repercussions as well as the up-front costs, you can get a better idea of whether to pay for the repair yourself.
If you decide it’s best to go through your insurance company, watch this video with basic steps on how to do it!