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Q? Do I have to get 3 estimates?
A. No, no one can tell you to obtain more than one estimate.  You, as the vehicle owner may choose to do so if you’d like.

Q? Do I have to take my vehicle to an insurance company’s preferred shop for repair?
A. No, You are not required to take your vehicle to a drive-in claims facility, in fact we would ask you to tell the claims department you would like your vehicle repaired at Southwest Collision Center. It is your right as the vehicle owner to obtain an estimate wherever you choose. You are only required to notify the insurance company of the vehicle’s location so that it may be examined by the claims adjuster. However, if you have already gone to a drive-in claims facility, make sure you take a copy of the insurance adjuster’s estimate with you.

Q? Am I required to notify my insurance company before repairs begin on my vehicle?
A. Yes your insurance policy requires you to notify them and make a claim report. Once a claim report has been made, you may proceed to leave your vehicle at the repair facility of your choice and notify the insurance company claim representative or adjuster where your damaged vehicle may be inspected. Once a claim representative or adjuster has had an opportunity to inspect your vehicle, you may authorize repairs to begin.

Q? Who is responsible for the guarantee of workmanship?
A. The Repair Shop, Your insurance company is not accepting the liability for the quality and safety of your vehicle’s repair. Therefore, you and you alone must control the fate of your vehicle’s repair by choosing a proper facility that is adequately trained and equipped to restore your automobile to its pre-accident condition. You have the legal right and authority to do so.

Q? Can my insurance company authorize a repair without my consent?
A. No, only the vehicle owner may authorize repairs. You must be presented with an estimate to know what is being repaired on your vehicle before repairs are started.

Q? Who is responsible for payment to the repair shop?
A. You are Your insurance policy states that your insurance company will pay for the damages to your vehicle, less the deductible amount. You may instruct your insurance company to pay directly to the repair shop of your choice; however, full payment must be arranged prior to your vehicle being picked up.

Q? The accident wasn’t my fault. How are Third Party Claims handled?
A. Third Party Claim is where the other person’s insurance is involved as opposed to your own. Collect from the other driver’s policy. You won’t have to pay a deductible and are entitled to a rental car while yours is being repaired. No accident will be charged against your policy. The insurance company cannot dictate anything to a claimant. The sole purpose of the insurance company in a third party claim is to pay the bill.

Q? 5 Important Questions
A. 1. Is the warranty offered a Lifetime National Warranty and is it registered with an independent third party consumer satisfaction measurement service?

2. Does the shop use an independent third party in order to survey every repair?  Is customer feedback available for future customers to view?

3. Can the shop provide you with a detailed list of satisfied and unsatisfied customers?

4. Does the shop display any certificates of affiliations with industry organizations such as Automotive Service Association (ASA), I-CAR, Collision Industry Conference (CIC) or the Automotive Customer Relations Bureau (ACRB)?

5. Are the shop’s technicians trained, experienced and equipped to properly handle a repair for your type of vehicle?

If a shop cannot provide these, be skeptical of their ability to provide a quality repair. A quality repair means a safe vehicle.

Q? A third party claim,
A. A third party claim, is where the other person’s insurance is involved as opposed to your own. Please understand that your claim is actually against the at fault party or person and not their insurance company. As such, the insurance company cannot dictate anything – not the repair shop, not the repair methodology, not how much is paid – NOTHING. This is because there is no contract in force.

The other person’s insurance becomes involved because of the liability portion of their Contract of Insurance. Generally, this part of the “policy” will say something like “The company will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured becomes obligated to pay as damages arising from: a) bodily injury; b) injury or destruction of property; which are payable under the terms of this policy.” In layman’s terms, insurance protects the person who purchased the contract. The insurance company is obligated to pay the damages up to the limits of the coverage. If someone causes damage to your property due to negligence, they are personally responsible to the injured party. If they have an insurance contract that covers this loss, the insurer must protect them financially and pay for the damages.

In the case of an automobile collision, it may seem as if the claimant is at the mercy of the insurance company. This is not the case. A person cannot be bound by a contract they were not a party to. The only reason the insurance company is involved in the claim is to pay the damages owed by the insured to the claimant. There is no contract in effect between the claimant and the insurance company. The claimant doesn’t have to settle for aftermarket parts, may be entitled to a rental vehicle immediately upon suffering the loss, and can choose any shop and repair methods they desire to have the repairs made (within reason). The insurance company cannot dictate anything to a claimant. They have no authority, the sole purpose of the insurance company in a third party claim is to pay the bill.

However, some insurance representatives will often tell a claimant something different. They would have the vehicle owner believe that the insurance company’s decisions are binding. This is not true. The at-fault party owes the claimant. The at-fault party’s Contract of Insurance provides protection to the at-fault party. The third party claimant has complete control over the repair process, not the negligent party’s insurance company. You have every legal right to bring your car to the collision repair facility you trust.

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