Dealing With The Insurer’s Authorized Repair Shop

If you have been following my articles about dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident you know that I got my car back from the repair shop late last week and had some issues with how it was running.

After the accident I had the choice to go either to a shop on the auto insurer’s recommended list, or to a shop of my choice. The difference was that

– the recommended shops agreed to charge no more than the repair amount approved by the insurer after appraisal (and would be paid directly).

– going to a non-recommended shop meant the insurer would send me a check for the appraised repair amount, I would have no guarantee the shop would accept that as payment in full, plus if they uncovered additional damage while repairing it I would need to get an additional appraisal and another check, delaying full repairs.

Given the extent of the damage to my front end

Car damage

I decided to go with an insurer-authorized shop run by a major (though not Subaru) dealer a mile from my house since I didn’t want the hassle of taking responsibility for coordinating with the high probability of additional damage being discovered after only a visual assessment.

Also, I had damage from a minor accident several months ago for which I had claimed and received a check but had not bothered to repair yet since it was not impairing the car’s functions – this seemed like a good time to have that done as well since they would not charge more than the  appraisal (though I would need to pay it since I had been paid by the insurer).

Here are some things I learned from the experience: 

 collision

Positive:

– The shop applied for a supplement on the older damage after they removed the parts so I didn’t have to pay more for the additional repair.

– The exterior body work looks great.

– They totally detailed the car inside and out before returning it to me – it’s never been cleaner since I got it new!

Negative:

– I had to pay them my collision deductible because the insurer hadn’t yet assigned fault for the accident. This seems to be taking a long time, and I suspect it may have to do with the shop’s not getting the appraisal paperwork to the claims rep in a timely fashion – as of the day I picked up it still was not in their hands (10 days later).

– My car sounded horrible and the engine drove badly. When I called back, the shop said that since they had to disconnect my battery the onboard engine computer had lost all data so I needed to reset it by driving about 50 miles.

– They left a large piece of foam (a bumper liner) and random 2×4 in my trunk.

So I researched the best way to recalibrate my car’s computer, drove in that pattern, and was successful in resetting it so that I was able to get my yearly state inspection sticker two days later.

But the car still made such a loud noise when accelerating that people stared as I drove by! Fortunately I also needed to get the oil changed, so I went to the Subaru dealer for that and asked them to look at the engine compartment and exhaust system for any missed damage. They reported:

– The transmission mount was broken, which resulted in all the noise and vibration I was feeling.

– Also the oil feed tube was cracked and needed to be replaced.

wakefield subaru bill line

In addition I had noticed:

– A piece of trim around the repaired rear wheel well wasn’t totally attached.

rim not attached

– When running the heat and defrost fans with the vent open (i.e., not just recycling cabin air) there was a lot of exhaust fumes in the mix.

How I dealt with these issues:

1. I took photos of the dealer’s report and the loose piece of trim.

2. I emailed the photos to the collision shop and CC’d my assigned insurance claim representative listing the four issues.

3. I told them that since they had been deficient in fixing the car, I expected them to provide me with a free loaner car while they finished fixing mine.

4. On Monday morning I followed up the email with a call to the shop, spoke calmly to the adjuster, and confirmed he would cover the rental.

 Your takeaway:

  • Always inspect any work done immediately after picking up the car.
  • Test all components, even those you might not think would be involved (e.g., the heat)
  • If in doubt, get a different expert to take a look, and document in writing/photograph anything found that’s not right.
  • Always keep the insurance company in the loop so that they are aware that they should not yet close the claim.

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