As a consumer of automotive collision repair, you have several rights which could better ensure that your vehicle will be repaired in a proper, complete, and safe manner.
Call the police after an accident, as YOU HAVE A RIGHT to get a written accident report or an official police information exchange report. The police report will at a minimum list the other driver’s personal and insurance information.
If your car is not drivable, YOU HAVE A RIGHT to request your car be towed to the shop of your choice, not just to a tow company’s lot.
If the accident was your fault, call your insurance company and start a claim. If the accident was not your fault, either wait for the other driver’s insurance company to call you OR call them to get the ball rolling. If the accident is a “no-fault” situation, call your insurance company.
Tell the responsible insurance company which repair shop you are going to take your vehicle to. They may say that they are not in their “network” or are not one of their “preferred vendors” and try to steer you to another shop. They might make it sound like their preferred vendors are who you MUST go to. YOU HAVE A RIGHT to take your vehicle to any shop you want to. It is against the law in Iowa to tell you where you must go, and you do NOT need multiple estimates.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, or if you have rental coverage in your policy YOU HAVE A RIGHT to a rental car. If it wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to pay anything for the rental while repairs are being done. If you are found at fault, getting a rental car will depend on your coverage.
If the accident was your fault, no-fault, or if for some reason you must use your insurance, you will need to pay your deductible to the shop. The insurance company pays the repair shop the total amount owed for repairs MINUS your deductible. Your deductible is part of the payment owed to the shop for the services provided. Otherwise a shop will need to take shortcuts on repairs, parts, or both. For your safety, shortcuts should never be taken. YOU HAVE A RIGHT to a safely repaired vehicle.
Find a shop that works for YOU. Choose a repair facility by viewing online reviews, shop certifications or speak directly to the staff. The best repair facilities make the process as painless as possible and will repair your vehicle back to its pre-accident condition.