January 2, 2024
The Risks of ‘Preferred’ Auto Shops
By Jonathan Damashek
Insurance companies may try to persuade you to use what they refer to as “preferred” auto shops after a car accident. However, these mechanic shops often cut corners to save money, sometimes risking your safety in the process. You have other options.
Learn more about finding the right automotive shop to repair your car after an accident in NYC.
What Is a Preferred Auto Shop?
Preferred body shops are mechanics that collaborate with insurance companies through what many insurance companies call “direct repair programs,” or DRPs.
These shops are sometimes billed as “one-stop shops.” Someone with a damaged car can drop it off at a DRP so an adjuster can look it over, and it can be repaired.
An insurance company may tell you that a preferred shop will get your vehicle repaired quickly. However, using a DRP is generally a method to save the insurance company money.
Common Problems with Preferred Auto Shops
Using a preferred auto shop to fix your car can be a risky decision. Preferred auto shops often contract with insurance companies to provide the cheapest repair possible to save the insurance company money in the long run. Essentially, they may cut corners as they fix your car. The shop may take risks because they are ensured more work by the insurance company in the future.
Some common issues when working with preferred auto shops include:
Preferred Auto Shops Have a Narrow Scope of Work
Your insurance company will dictate the scope of work that is done to your car with a preferred body shop. Instead of relying on an experienced mechanic to decide, preferred shops let the insurance company determine what needs to be fixed.
They may decide not to fix everything that was damaged and instead just make it look good from the outside. An inexperienced car owner would never know the difference.
A Preferred Auto Shop Might Use Low-Quality Parts
Preferred auto shops are paid less by insurance companies than a typical auto shop, so they often cut corners to make up the profit. This can result in them using secondhand, salvaged, cheaper, or counterfeit parts.
Generic replacement parts are not as safe as “original equipment manufacturer” parts. Generic parts have no guarantee. They may break or stop working soon after the car is returned to you.
Preferred Auto Shops Often Less Experienced Auto Mechanics
Preferred auto shops do everything they can to cut costs, including hiring less experienced or inadequately trained workers. They may even hire people without proper certifications. Their goal is to reduce labor costs.
This can be detrimental if they work on your vehicle without knowing they need to fix it properly.
Preferred Auto Shops Spend the Minimum Time Possible on Repairs
Although we know that you want to get your car fixed as quickly as possible, don’t be fooled when a preferred auto shop promises a quick turnaround. More experienced shops that offer higher quality work may be booked for a few weeks, but their service will be better for you in the long run.
Since preferred auto shops are making less money contracted with insurance companies, they want to spend as little time as possible on your car, often resulting in shoddy repairs.
Low-Cost Repairs Can Result in an Unsafe Vehicle
Preferred auto shops do whatever is possible to cut costs, even if that means failing to “fix” all the damages on a car. They may even produce a product that is not “roadworthy.” You might be able to drive the car away from the shop, but issues that should have been prevented may pop up quickly after that.
Preferred Auto Shop FAQs
Do I Pay for Repairs Upfront?
In many cases, you will have to pay your deductible upfront. That may be $500 or $1,000 that you will have to pay to an auto shop before the insurance company covers the rest of the bill. However, some auto repair shops will waive your deductible or cover it themselves.
Shop around, and don’t be afraid to ask repair shops if they will take payments for your deductible or even waive it altogether.
Can I Pick Who Repairs My Car?
Yes. Unless you have signed a contract with your insurance company to use their preferred auto repair shops solely, you are free to use anyone you want to repair your car. You are the only person who can release your vehicle to a mechanic and sign off on the repairs.
How Can I Find the Best Auto Repair Shop?
The best way to find a good auto repair shop is by asking for referrals. Your friends, family, or attorneys may have received exceptional service from a mechanic, and they can refer you to that person or shop. If no one has any suggestions, you can search for auto repair shops near you and look at reviews.
You should carefully evaluate people’s reviews, including any lower star ratings. Pay attention to customer service as well as how well they fixed vehicles.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer After a Crash
If you are unsure of what steps to take after an auto accident, contact a car accident lawyer in New York City. The personal injury attorneys at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek P.C. have worked with countless clients who need their cars repaired. We can offer reasonable advice on what options you have.