If you've been in a car accident recently, you might have visited a doctor or physical therapist to help you get your body back to normal again. The next step is finding the right specialist to bring your car's body back into shape as well. Knowing what needs to be done for your automobile and finding the right collision repair experts can be tricky, so here are some basic guidelines to follow.
The first thing you want to do, of course, is to know whether your car is totaled or can be repaired. Insurance agencies each have their own way of assessing damage after a collision. Unfortunately, your ride doesn't have to be a completely mangled mess to be considered "totaled" by an insurance company. If you've filed a claim and feel that the prognosis is unfair, it's a good idea to research your rights regarding insurance claims; you can find information about this through your state's department of insurance.
Now let's say you are moving ahead with repairs. What's the best way to proceed? If you don't have an auto body mechanic, you may want to ask around to friends and acquaintances, especially if they have a car similar to yours. Another good way to find trustworthy collision repair shops is through online reviews such as those at Yelp, Angie's List, or Google Reviews. Make sure to find carefully thought out reviews that clearly articulate the features and drawbacks of a shop, rather than hasty one-liners. Call around to shops to inquire about their expertise in working with your particular make and model. You also want to be sure that they source all new parts rather than aftermarket or used parts (laws regulating this vary by state).
Take the time to visit several shops for an estimate. In collision repair, costs can span a wide range, and you also want to make sure that one shop isn't missing something that another shop picks up. Take the detailed estimate from the first mechanic to a second one and so on, asking each to take a look to see if anything has been left out or added on unnecessarily. This process takes a little bit longer than just going to one shop, but it's truly worth it! Having the right collision repair specialists for your situation will make all the difference in the world.
Another smart tip is to get both the insurance adjuster and the repair shop to put your agreement into writing. When they say they will "fully restore your car to pre-collision condition," make sure this promise gets written down on paper and is signed by all parties. This could potentially be helpful to you later if you run into any issues about the work done on your car. Make sure contracts are clear and as detailed as possible.