Tips for choosing a repair shop:
- Look for a clean shop. A well tended facility is generally a good sign, while a messy one is a red flag
- Talk to the staff. Are they friendly, professional, and helpful? A good shop will have good customer service.
- Choose a shop that specializes in your car’s brand. If you drive a Honda, for example, you may want to look for a certified Honda repair facility. Keep in mind, this may not be possible in all cases.
- Choose a shop with a warranty. You’ll want to do business with places that will stand by the work that they do.
- Choose a shop that offers a clear, detailed, written estimate.
- Ask if they will return your old parts. Even if you don’t want them, their response will be a good indication of how they operate.
- Ask about any accreditation the shop has received, and independently research the validity of those accrediting organizations.
Similar to towing services, your insurance provider will have preferred shops that they like to do business with, and although the majority of the time these are a sound choice, you still have every right to choose your own facility. Whether it was you or your insurer who chose a shop, there are a number of things you should keep in mind when deciding.
The first thing is as simple as just going to the shop and looking around. A clean, organized facility is a good sign, while filth and unnecessary clutter are red flags. It should have modern equipment and professional staff.
They should give you a clear, written estimate, which you can read more about here. If you’re choosing your own repair shop, your insurance provider will have to approve the estimate before covering it. Talk to them about getting your old parts back, if you want them.
BC, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have provincial insurance companies that give ratings to shops. It can be a good idea to look for these.
Risk is everywhere – loss can even happen when your vehicle is being repaired after a collision. Organized insurance fraud can include criminal leaders; “bad actor” towing companies; medical clinics with little interest in medicine; and auto repair shops in the business of defrauding insurers. Be on the lookout for:
- A repair shop that intentionally causes damage to a vehicle after a collision
- A shop that bills an insurer for damage that occurred before the collision took place
- A reasonable verbal repair estimate and final bills that far exceed the estimate
- A mechanic who leaves the estimated amount blank when you sign a repair authorization (they can then secretly fill in an inflated amount)
- A shop padding bills by “repairing” mechanical problems and damage that don’t exist.
Insurance Bureau of Canada