When choosing a body shop, there are many things you should be aware of… and some of them you might never think to ask. In this article, we’ll tell you what to look for and what specific questions will most effectively help you filter out those who do not have your best interests in mind.
You’ve Been Pre-Programmed
In the moments directly following a collision, we have all been pre-programmed to pull out our insurance card and call the phone number on the back as the first course of action. And while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, one thing is certain: your insurance company will make every effort to steer you into one of their “preferred” shops – which is quite possibly the worst advice when choosing a body shop.
You may have believed that your insurer is a good neighbor, or that you are in good hands. You might have chosen your insurer because you love reptiles or red umbrellas. But make no mistake: MOST insurance companies are primarily focused on THEIR profits – not YOUR situation.
What to Look For When Choosing a Body Shop
Many articles available on a Google search for choosing a body shop talk about asking friends and family, checking with your mechanic, looking for certified technicians and trusting your gut. And while it may seem that all of these make sense… in practical application, none of them matter as much as knowing which questions to ask – and to whom you should ask.
Don’t get us wrong: other people’s opinions matter. And reviews (from REPUTABLE review sites) are a very good place to start your search for choosing a body shop. But going to your uncle Bob’s best friend’s son’s back yard body shop – while certainly supporting small business – may not be your best bet when the quality and safety of your vehicle’s repair is on the line.
What Questions Should you Ask?
When choosing a body shop, there are really only two MAJOR questions that you should consider and factor into your decision.
- Does this shop have any DRP relationships?
- Does this shop allow the use of aftermarket parts?
DRP stands for Direct Repair Partnership (or Program) – and it is a contractual agreement that is made between the INSURANCE COMPANY and the BODY SHOP. (Note: YOU are not part of this agreement. And it stands to reason that the “partners” will look out for themselves before considering the consequences for you.
The main problem with DRP partnerships is that the insurance company is all about cutting expenses and pushing as many cars through the body shop as fast as possible. Think about it: downward pressure to use cheap, substandard aftermarket or junk yard parts to repair a car as fast as possible… what could go wrong? (We could write VOLUMES about what HAS gone wrong!)
A DRP body shop will ALWAYS put the insurance company’s interest in cutting costs above performing the right repair – and that is NEVER good for you.
And what’s so wrong with aftermarket parts?
Much has been written about the issues with aftermarket parts, but suffice it to say that what concerns us most is the FACT that by their very definition – they cannot be the same as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.
The manufacturer of your vehicle did all the investment in research and development of each and every part that makes up your vehicle. They tested each part for strength and safety. They put YOU into every design decision before they ever assembled your vehicle.
Aftermarket manufacturers design “replicas” that look similar, and might perform or look “good enough”. You won’t find documentation related to crash-test and structural integrity – because there isn’t any. The technicians might have to bore out larger holes – or worse yet, bend metal to make the parts fit because they are NOT THE SAME as OEM parts.
And body shops that use aftermarket parts seem to genuinely believe that if they can get it to “look similar”, and slap on some paint so that no one will notice any differences… it’s good enough.
And THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
It has been, and always will be our advice when choosing a body shop to search for one that has NO DRP partnerships with any insurance companies. In this way, you are assured that they (the body shop) is working for YOU – and not the insurer.
And finally, ask yourself this: if a body shop is willing to cut corners on quality and safety just to make a buck… what else will they compromise on during the course of your vehicle’s repair? Chances are, you’re not going to like the answer.
We are always ready and willing to answer any of your questions. Simply contact us here, and let us know how we might best serve you. Even if you decide to go somewhere else – we are happy to help you make the most educated decision when choosing a body shop.