How to Handle Insurance Companies

Car accidents are unfortunately a part of life. When it happens to you, the first instinct is to call your insurance company if your vehicle sustained damage.

The first thing your insurance file handler will try to encourage you to do is go to one of their “approved” repair shops. Most consumers will just automatically go where directed because they will mistakenly assume that by going to an “approved” repair shop they will be “taken care of” and things will go quickly and smoothly.

The logic that the insurance company may use will usually include one or more of the following:

Sign Up for E-News

1. “It will take a lot less time to repair your car, because ‘our’ shop doesn’t have to wait for an appraiser to start the repair.”

2. “The shop you want to go to may charge more, which we may not cover and you may end up paying the difference.”

3. “We guarantee the work of ‘our’ shop.”

4. “If you go to your own shop, we won’t be able to help you if something goes wrong.”

5. “The shop you want to use is difficult to deal with.”

6. “If you go to the shop we recommend you won’t have to wait for a check.”

7. “The shop we recommend has the proper equipment to repair your car...”


The list can go on and on with more reasons why you should go to one of “their” shops. Now, why do they do this? The bottom line is that they want to have complete control over the costs involved in repairing your vehicle.

In many cases they have pre-arranged agreements with shops on their list to use cheaper aftermarket, used, or reconditioned parts. Some shops are actually graded by the insurance companies on how many of their jobs include repair of a part instead of replacement, and how many aftermarket, used, or reconditioned parts are used instead of new parts. Insurers will use statistical data gathered from previous jobs to then determine which shops they will “steer” their business towards. Shops on the insurance company list are actually working for the insurance company instead of working for you as the vehicle owner.

Now what is your right and what should you do?

The first thing you should do is check the wording of your policy. Do they have the right to make you go to a particular shop? (Most policies don’t have this requirement!) If not, then do your own research. Determine if the shop they want you to go to has a good reputation. Do they have the

proper equipment, training, and certifications from organizations such as ASE, I-CAR, and vehicle manufacturers? Check out their reputation online on sites such as Yelp, ask friends and family if they have had experience with this particular shop, and call the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any outstanding complaints. Perhaps most importantly, don’t limit your research to only the shops on their list. Choose the shop you feel is most qualified to repair your vehicle properly, restoring its safety, function, appearance, and durability.

Once you have made your choice, let the insurance company know about your decision. Then contact the repair shop and they should be able to handle all aspects of getting your car towed in and begin dealing with the insurance company.

No matter what shop you select, if you have any questions or are experiencing any problems, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please contact me at 908-789-2020.

 Sam Mikhail, President, Prestige Auto Body

7 South Ave, Garwood, NJ


Guest columnists will be sharing their thoughts, ideas and tips on all aspects of cars, from ownership to maintenance and repair.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Westfield Family Continues ‘Summer of Kindness’ with Infant Clothing Drive

July 12, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield mom and teacher Sara Liptack is continuing her family’s “Summer of Kindess” with an infant clothing for Furniture Assist, an organization in Springfield that helps formerly homeless people, veterans, the elderly, fire victims, refugees and people fleeing domestic violence.

“I said, ‘What’s the one thing you really ...

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You


Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

What Is Your Bottom Line?

This week's Parshah (Torah reading) is the Parshah of Pinchas the Zealot: the courageous young priest who stood up against idolatry and immorality and, in the end, saved Israel from a devastating plague.

While Pinchas' radical response made him a hero worthy of having a Torah section named after him, we wouldn't necessarily suggest to our children ...

Declaration of Independence – What is it?

July 4, 2018

Dear Editor:

The definition of a free country is where the government does not control what people say or do for political reasons and where people can express their opinions without punishment. The transition from a totalitarian state to a free country will be long and slow.

In a 2017 report Freedom House said that of the 195 countries assessed, 87 (45%) were rated Free, 59 (30%) ...

When to Dial 911: Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month

July 10, 2018

There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 ...

Volunteers Help “Spruce” Up Deserted Village

July 15, 2018

A group of student volunteers from the Mitzvah Mania youth community service program visited the Deserted Village of Feltville last month, but not to search for ghosts. They were there to plant spruce trees and pine trees as part of a Union County Adopt-a-Park project.

“Our Adopt-a-Park volunteers play a big role in our County parks, and the Mitzvah Mania students worked hard to plant ...