How do I deal with the repair shop?

I am afraid to deal with the repair shop. Everyone hears stories about how the mechanic will mislead you. How do I protect myself? This isn't just insurance help, this is good common sense advice.

  • Find out who sets the repair standards such as who decides whether the repair has been properly completed. Find out who will re-do the work if you are unsatisfied with the repair. Ask these questions of the manager.
  • The shop will ask you to sign a work order authorizing the repairs. Make sure it specifies all the details outlined in the estimate. Any changes or additions to the job and the related costs should be written on the work order. Your signature on the work order means that you are ultimately responsible for the invoiced costs.
  • If this in an insurance claim then make sure that your insurance company agrees to pay for all repairs before you have the work completed. Find out how your insurer handles supplemental repairs just in case the repair shop finds more damage to your vehicle that was not at the original estimate. You might need to submit an official receipt from the repair shop with your insurance claim. Be aware that insurance companies sometimes will assess your additional costs for improvements or betterment.
  • Once the repairs are done, check them over. You may decide to have an independent party look at them. If you are not satisfied with the repairs, discuss the problem with the body shop manager. If this is an insurance claim and the problem isn’t resolved, notify your insurance company so they become involved in the issue.
  • There are several methods of paying the bill. You are responsible for paying the amount of the deductible, as noted in your insurance contract. If your repair is a result of another vehicle hitting your vehicle and the other driver's insurance company has accepted blame then you may not have to pay a deductible. The insurance company may forward to you the rest of the money to pay the body shop. Or the insurance company may pay the shop directly. A third possibility is the insurance company may send a cheque jointly paid to you and the body shop.
  • Once the shop has been paid, or when the insurance company has confirmed it will pay on your behalf, you can take your vehicle home.

Your vehicle should be in the same condition it was just before the accident occurred. If you have any complaints or issues about the repairs then you need to notify your adjuster, agent or broker right away. If you delay then you jeopardize your chances of receiving further work at no charge.