12 Questions to Ask Your Collision Repair Shop After a Car Accident

5 Minutes Read

Few things are more disorienting than a car accident. Fender benders, rear end collisions, and other accidents strike without warning and disrupt your daily routine for days or weeks on end. Once it’s been determined that everyone involved is safe, your next thought might be, “now what?” 

After an accident there are a lot of steps you’ll need to take. The car has to be repaired, you have to deal with your insurance company, and you have to find a temporary means of transportation. Making matters more stressful, car owners report worrying about getting taken advantage of at the repair shop, or not getting full benefits from the insurance company. Thankfully, knowledge is power, and easing the post-accident stress is as simple as knowing the right questions to ask. 

If you find yourself wondering what comes next after you’ve been in a car accident, here are 12 questions you should ask your collision repair shop to ensure the process works for you:

1. Am I required to use the auto body shop recommended by my insurance company?

Insurance holders are not required to use the auto body shop recommended by their insurance companies. So if the repair shop tells you otherwise, you can bet they’ll be dishonest in other ways as well. Steer clear. 

The post-accident auto insurance process typically works like this: 

  • Your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to inspect your car and determine what repairs are needed and how much it will cost.
  • You choose a repair shop and they complete the identified work. They might also provide their own cost estimate after an inspection, and your insurance company should take that into account.
  • Either the insurance company pays you and lets you settle the bill with your chosen repair shop, or they may pay the repair shop directly. 

Understanding the insurance estimate and payment process will help you better manage the communication between all parties. 

2. Does the shop assist you with processing the insurance claim?

As noted above, it’s possible that the repair shop will interact directly with the insurance company when it comes time to pay the bill. Ask the shop how they usually handle the claims process, and whether or not they will provide their own inspection and estimate to the insurance company on your behalf. 

3. Does the shop provide an itemized, written estimate of all necessary repairs?

Your insurance company will provide an estimate of what repairs are needed and what the cost will be, but it is always a good idea to get a second opinion. Ask the repair shop if they will provide an itemized, written estimate of all the repairs they say you need. And don’t forget to ask them to explain all services in plain terms vs. industry jargon. 

4. Does the auto body repair shop have routine or frequent experience working on your make and model of vehicle?

The best repair shop for you is the repair shop that has experience working on your make and model. Before starting any repairs, ask how often they see your make and model, and whether they have routine (oil changes and other occasional services) or frequent (body work, more extensive repairs) experience with your type of vehicle.

5. Does the shop offer the type of repair work your car needs?

Needed repairs will obviously vary depending on the nature of your accident and where the collision occurred. Similarly, you’ll want to ask your repair shop if they offer the type of body work your car needs - not all shops do. This will help you avoid a situation where your vehicle receives only partial repairs, forcing you to waste time going to a second shop.  

6. Is my car covered by insurance while at the shop?

In-shop damage and accidents are rare, but they do occur. Be sure to ask the repair shop if your car is covered by their business insurance while in their care. Flagstaff Collision Center maintains sufficient insurance to cover all your vehicle’s needs while it’s in our shop. 

7. Is the auto body repair shop certified?

One of the best indications of the quality of a body repair shop is the kinds of certifications it holds. There are a lot of uncertified operators out there, and working with them can carry enormous risk for the vehicle owner. Ask your shop what certifications they have, and especially listen for recognitions such as Gold Class Collision Repair, or an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. In addition to holding these two certifications, Flagstaff Collision Center is recognized by the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce. 

8. What certifications do the shop technicians carry?

A reputable auto body repair shop will insist their technicians carry certifications as well. You should ask your shop whether or not their technicians are certified, and, if so, which certifications they hold. The technicians at Flagstaff Collision Center are all backed by the industry-leading Automotive Excellence Certification. 

9. Will the paint match the rest of my car?

If part of your vehicle needs to be repainted, the last thing you want to see is a mismatch between the original paint and the fresh coat. And yet, paint repair can end up mismatched if the shop cuts corners instead of doing high quality work. Be sure to ask about their paint process and whether or not they guarantee the new paint will match the rest of your car. 

The paint technicians at Flagstaff Collision Center are professional and certified. They’ll match your paint correctly, mix it properly, and skillfully apply it, so you get a repair that’s free from defects or imperfections. 

10. How long will it take to repair your damaged vehicle?

While your vehicle is being repaired, you’re either without transportation, or relying on a rental. Depending on how long the repairs will take, this could have a massive impact on your daily life, preventing you from getting to work and managing other tasks. You should always ask a car repair shop how long it will take to fix your damaged vehicle. If one shop tells you it will take two weeks, while another says four, that could help you make the right choice for your own needs and timeline. 

11. Does the auto body shop have a relationship with a rental car provider or offer loaners?

Some auto body shops work with local rental car providers to get you a preferred rate. Others might offer loaners of their own. Since you might need a temporary vehicle to use while yours is getting fixed, you should ask your shop whether they have these or any other options for clients when it comes to replacing transportation while your vehicle is in the shop. Also, be sure to also ask if these services come with any extra costs to you, the client. 

12. Does the auto body shop back their repairs with a warranty?

The post-accident process doesn’t end once the repairs are finished. It’s rare, but parts can fail and other unexpected issues can arise. That’s why you need to ask the auto shop if they back-up their repairs with a warranty or not. 

A warranty will protect you in case the parts used were faulty, for example. This is also why it’s important that you keep all relevant paperwork and understand the rules and dates involved in the warranty.  

Flagstaff Collision is Your Certified and Preferred Auto Collision Repair Shop in the Greater Flagstaff Area.

We know that accidents are stressful, but it’s easier to manage when you know what to ask a potential repair shop, and what to look for in a reputable company. When you contact Flagstaff Collision today, our local team of experts will take time to answer all of your questions, and help make the repair process as seamless as possible. Our technicians are fully certified, our facilities are state-of-the-art, and we’re proud to be your preferred auto collision repair shop in the Greater Flagstaff area.

Michael Whittemore