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Many factors go into choosing the auto body shop that is exactly right for you and there is a lot to consider before you make a decision. GarageFly.com's purpose is to help make your choice easier so the result is more satisfying.

Does the auto body shop have a good reputation?

  • There is no more important or reliable indicator of your future repair experience than the way an auto body shop has treated its previous customers. Customers don't have to be "experts" to know if they have been treated fairly and repairs have been completed competently. GarageFly collects reviews from customers for hundreds of shops so that you can know in advance how you are likely to be treated.

What certifications do they have?

  • Professional certifications indicate that the shop and its staff have been trained and tested on correctly performing the necessary repair. ASE and ICAR are the two most widely accepted certifying organizations in the body shop industry.

    Association memberships often require businesses to agree to a code of ethics and commit to binding arbitration if a dispute arises. ASA and BBB are best-known associations. Your shop search results will indicate relevant certifications and affiliations.

Does the auto body shop offer a warranty?

  • A written warranty affirms the shop's confidence in its work and defines its commitment to meeting specific levels of work quality.

Do you need special services?

  • Some shops offer services that make the repair experience more pleasant. You may prefer a shop with Spanish-speaking personnel or one that demonstrates environmental sensitivity. Perhaps you want to search for your insurance company's preferred shops or check into other options. GarageFly strives to identify shops that offer these and other special services to improve your repair experience.

What kind of environment / appearance does the auto body shop maintain?

  • A great deal about a shop's commitment to its customers is disclosed by the shop appearance itself and the way it "feels." Cleanliness counts, and so does a relaxed environment. A shop that takes pride in its appearance most likely also takes pride in the business as a whole and the relationships it has with its customers.

12-step Repair Process

1. Assess Damage / Customer Authorization

  • The body shop inspects the damage to your car and creates a plan to restore it, including parts and labor operations. This is the basis for the insurance company's approval of payment and repairs. The customer authorizes the body shop to make the itemized repairs to the car.

2. Secure Insurance Approval

  • The insurance company, after verifying that they are liable for the cost of repairs, will assess what needs to be done to restore the car. They may work from the body shop's estimate or inspect the car to write their own appraisal.

3. Order and Receive Parts

  • The shop orders the specific parts needed to repair your car and checks them in when they arrive.

4. Arrange Rental Car

  • The shop can help you make arrangements for a rental car. If you are a claimant, the insurance company is responsible for paying for this. If your insurance company is paying for the repairs, check with your agent to see if your policy covers a rental car. If you will need to pay for a rental car out of your own pocket, the body shop may be able to help you get special rates.

5. Disassemble Car

  • The shop will remove the damaged parts from your car to determine if there is any damage (called a supplement) that was not visible or identified at the time of the first damage assessment. If additional damage is found (frequently the case), steps 2 and 3 will need to be repeated with respect to the supplement.

6. Complete Body Repairs

  • The shop makes repairs to the body of the car noted in the damage assessment, including frame and structural repairs and sheet metal repairs. The backside and edges of new sheet metal parts need to be painted before they can be put on your car. These parts are now installed on the car body. The painting process includes priming and sanding surfaces, protective masking, tinting the paint to match, painting, and polishing. Between these steps, the shop needs to allow time for drying and curing.

7. Reassemble Vehicle

  • After painting, the lights and trim are installed and fitted.

8. Sublet and Quality Control

  • Any sub-contracted work (wheel alignment, glass work, etc.) is completed at this point, along with a thorough quality inspection of all the work that has been done.

9. Clean For Delivery

  • Most shops will clean the car to remove the dust that accumulates during the repair process. Body shops have special procedures they use in cleaning a car because they are working around freshly painted surfaces.

10. Finalize Repair Billing

  • A final audit of costs incurred is completed and communicated to the insurance company paying for the repair, if there is one. In most cases, significant changes in the repair will have been previously communicated both to you and the insurance company.

11. Arrange For Payment

  • Prior to releasing your car, most shops will require that all payment arrangements have been verified, including checks from the insurance company and relevant deductibles.

12. Pick Up Your Car

  • The shop should walk you through the completed repairs or give you the opportunity to review the repairs and the final bill. You pay any required deductible, turn in the rental car, and take your car.

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The Insurance Process

At the "Scene of the Accident"

  • Collect Information! In order to file an insurance claim, you will need lots of information and there may be no other chance to gather it after you leave the scene of the accident. A standard form will help you organize what you need to know about the other person, witnesses, insurance companies, and the scene itself. Gathering all the information can save days of frustration later.

Reporting the Claim

  • Each insurance company has its own procedure for taking the information that is part of filing a claim. It may include doing it on the internet, over the phone, or in person to your agent. Three pieces of advice: document everything (especially the people you talk to), be cautious, and be organized. If you are making a claim against your own policy, you are considered an "insured." If you are making a claim against the other party's policy, you are considered a "claimant."

Estimating the Damage

  • The next step is to take the car to a body shop to estimate the cost of repairs. Having your body shop complete an estimate will help speed things up because no work can begin until there is a common understanding between the shop and the insurance company about what it will take to repair your car. The shop may also be able to pre-order parts and schedule an appointment. They can also make rental car arrangements for you. One of GarageFly's main objectives is to help consumers choose the best shop for them.

Deciding Who Will Pay

  • Once a claim has been opened, the insurance company will work to determine who has "liability." They need to determine who was at fault and whether the appropriate insurance coverage was in force at the time of the accident. This may take several days if the insurance company has trouble getting ahold of the parties. After a claim has been opened, the insurance company should authorize the rental car, if you're a claimant or if you have rental car coverage on your policy.

Insurance Authorization

  • Insurance companies will also want to assess the damage themselves. They may send out their own appraiser, ask you to bring your car into an estimating office, or have a preferred shop perform the estimate. None of these options infringe on your right to have the car repaired at the shop of your choice. If you choose to use one of the insurance company's shops, GarageFly can help you find a shop with a great customer reputation as well as being on the insurance company's list.

Getting the Car Fixed

  • Once your car is in the auto body shops for repairs, additional damage may be discovered that will require the insurance company to authorize these "supplemental" repairs. This can add additional time to the days your car is in the auto body shop.

Paying for the repairs

  • Prior to completion of repairs, you should make sure that the insurance company has sent the check. They may send it to you or the auto body shops.

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