If your car has sustained body damage from an accident, weather, vandalism or other cause, then you will be searching for a good auto body repair shop. Before you begin your search, there are a few things you should know. The following are among the most important ones.
You don't need to shop around for the lowest price
If you're like most car owners, you will likely be filing a claim with your insurance company for at least a partial reimbursement. Insurance companies will not require you to take your car to a shop that will charge the least amount of money, so there is no need to get several estimates in search of the best price. Although you want a good price, you also want a quality job done on your car. Because there is no insurance requirement to find the best price, you are free to use other criteria to find the shop that suits your needs.
You can take your car to the shop of your choice
Sometimes an insurance company will have a body shop that they want you to take your car to, but this is only a recommendation. You can use the body shop that you prefer. Insurance companies often have a preference because they may have cost controls in place for a particular body shop, and this reduces the chances of unnecessary charges, at least from their point of view. But you are free to find a repair shop that meets your needs that is not on a recommended list for a shop in your area.
There are signs that a body shop does good work
Unless you know about body work, there is really know way to know if the work done at any particular shop will be a quality job. However, there are certain signs to look for. One obvious one is that the body shop is a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. But specific to auto body repair is the seal of Automotive Service Excellence. The ASE is a certification organization that grants their seal of approval to both automotive repair and body shops who adhere to high standards of professionalism. Another approval to look for is one from the American Automobile Association. Commonly referred to as AAA, their approval lends credibility to a body shop.
Focus your search for an auto body repair shop that has been in business for several years and is recognized for their professionalism by one or more national certification groups. Get an estimate in writing, and make sure you feel comfortable with the people you are dealing with. Ask if they are familiar with your insurance company. Often they can assist in filing the claim and negotiate on your behalf.