Nobody wants to pay for auto insurance, but it’s a necessary protective cushion when it comes to dealing with the consequences of an unforeseen accident. Since auto insurance is something you must have, it makes sense to assess your policy and make the most of your investment. Also, when working with an auto insurance provider, it’s helpful to collaborate with someone who can show you how to navigate these sometimes-confusing waters. Read the following insurance-related tips from five Diamond Certified Experts in the auto body industry.
1. Make sure your deductible makes sense.
While it’s easy to gloss over the deductible amount on your auto insurance policy, by doing so, you may end up spending more money than necessary. That’s why Savi Singh, general manager of Auto Collision Experts in Sunnyvale, says it’s wise to look at your policy’s deductible and make sure it’s an appropriate amount for your vehicle. “In the event of a collision, a higher deductible will lead to higher out-of-pocket costs, whereas a lower deductible will lead to lower out-of-pocket costs. By considering the age and value of your vehicle, you can choose a deductible that makes sense and will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.”
2. Invest in an OEM endorsement.
When having repair work done after a collision, you’ll want to get the best replacement parts available for your vehicle. However, you’re unlikely to get them unless your insurance policy includes a specific clause. “In order to minimize costs, insurance companies typically direct auto body shops to use cheaper aftermarket parts when performing repairs,” explains Scott Yeaman, president of Yeaman Auto Body Inc. in Palo Alto. “Unfortunately, these parts are usually of inferior quality and in some cases don’t fit correctly, which can complicate and prolong the repair process. To avoid this scenario, make sure your insurance policy includes an OEM endorsement, which specifies the use of original equipment manufacturer parts.”
Mr. Singh says an OEM endorsement is key for newer and leased vehicles. “For newer cars, OEM parts are recommended to maintain the vehicles’ long-term integrity, and leased vehicles are required to have OEM parts when they’re returned to the dealership.”
3. Get rental coverage.
It may seem like a superfluous addition to your auto insurance policy, but Mr. Yeaman says rental car coverage can save you a lot of money in the event of an accident. “The completion time for body repair work can be surprisingly lengthy, especially if you aren’t using a shop that’s in your insurance company’s direct network. If you don’t have another car, you’re going to need a rental, which can be expensive if it’s not covered by your policy. Plus, rental car coverage isn’t very expensive in the first place, so even if you don’t end up using it, the additional cost will be negligible.”
Watch Mr. Yeaman’s full Expert video below.
4. Remember, you have the right to choose an auto body shop.
When filing an insurance claim for collision repairs, your provider will typically provide a list of recommended auto body shops in its direct repair program. However, Harvey Weil of Advanced Auto Body & Collision Repair Inc. in Pittsburg says you aren’t limited to the options that are presented to you. “You have the legal right to take your vehicle to any shop you choose. After you file your claim, your insurance provider will send you to a shop in its direct repair network for an assessment and appraisal. Once this is done, you can choose to continue working with that shop or take your car to a different shop. After all, you may have a preferred auto body shop that you’ve worked with before and feel more comfortable with. Regardless of which option you choose, your insurance provider is still legally required to cover the cost of the repair work in accordance with your policy’s terms.”
5. Know when (and when not) to file a claim.
Following a collision, you may be weighing whether or not to file a claim due to concerns about your insurance rate going up. Pete Hurwicz, owner of Silicon Valley Auto Body & Tow in Sunnyvale, says there are a few factors to consider when making this decision. “First, you should review your insurance policy. If you know that your first accident is forgiven or a previously filed claim won’t count against you after a certain number of years, this will help inform your decision. Another important factor is who was found at fault for the accident. If you weren’t at fault, filing a claim isn’t likely to result in a rate increase. Other contributing factors include the severity of the accident and your longevity with your insurance company.”
Since the number of claims you file directly impacts your insurance rate, Mr. Hurwicz advises weighing your decision in accordance with the financial ramifications. “If the damage to your vehicle is less than your deductible, it might be a good idea to pay for the repair out of pocket, whereas if your car is ‘totaled,’ it’ll likely be more cost-effective to file a claim.”
6. Find an auto body shop that deals with insurance on your behalf.
When it comes to filing an auto insurance claim, the prospect of dealing with paperwork and negotiating with your provider can seem a bit daunting. That’s why Tommy Ngai, owner of Exclusive Auto Care and Auto Body in Redwood City, recommends choosing an auto body shop that will handle this process for you. “Before hiring an auto body shop, find out if they’ll work with your insurance company on your behalf,” he advises. “Some companies will even fight for better replacement parts or services, depending on your insurance coverage.”