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Choosing your own repairer vs insurer-preferred mechanic

An insurance-preferred body shop can make claims fast, but your local shop may know your car better

When deciding between your own auto repair shop or one approved by your insurance company, consider the shop’s reputation, convenience for your schedule and location and any repair guarantees offered.

Should I use the body shop my insurance company recommends?

If you don’t have a favorite repair shop, you can go with one that the insurance company approves. Reasons to use the preferred shop:

  • Streamlined repair process. Many insurance companies pay the repair shop directly, meaning you could avoid paying out of pocket and getting reimbursed later.
  • Insurance coverage approval. If your chosen repairer has quoted a higher price than the insurance company’s, the insurance company might ask you to pay the difference. You have less risk of this situation happening if you go with the insurance company’s approved mechanics.
  • Lifetime guarantee. The insurance company can’t vouch for the quality of every auto shop, but it happily stands by its own partners. If the repairs fail or get botched in some way, the insurance company can restore or pay for any damage.
  • Vetted repair shops. Your insurance company’s network of mechanics typically come with a strong reputation, offering peace of mind that they do quality work. If an auto shop isn’t up to scratch, it’s going to stand out among the lot of high-quality mechanics.
  • Independent mechanics. The mechanics aren’t always the insurance company’s direct employees, but many are standalone businesses with their own reputation to keep intact. That’s a more valuable arrangement to the mechanic than however much time or money saved with a dodgy job.

Can I use my own repair shop after a car insurance claim?

Yes. If you have a mechanic that you know and trust, you might feel more comfortable sticking with them. You have the right to get your car repaired by any repair shop you’d like.

However, repair estimates may not get approved as quickly, and there may be some back-and-forth communication if the insurance company doesn’t agree with your mechanic’s repairs. These issues may not turn into major problems if your mechanic works quickly and offers fair estimates.

Pros and cons: Choosing your own vs. recommended body shop

You might base your decision on the type of repair shop that provides the benefits and peace of mind you’re looking for.

Your own independent mechanic

  • You can pick someone you trust
  • The mechanic knows your car’s history and repair records
  • Convenient to where you live or work
  • Lets you support a local business
  • Some repairs may have repair guarantees
  • You may have to pay out of pocket and wait for reimbursement
  • Won’t qualify for lifetime repair guarantee

Insurance-recommended mechanic

  • Backed by your insurer
  • No back-and-forth for approvals
  • Often billed directly to auto shop
  • Guaranteed repairs covered
  • Might qualify for lifetime repair guarantee
  • Doesn’t know your car’s history
  • Might not be a close or convenient location

    What car insurance coverage includes repairs to my car?

    Wondering why some repairs are covered by your insurance, while others are left for you to take on? To be covered, the damage should involve one of these coverage types:

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    Bottom line

    Using an independent mechanic may suit you best if you’ve established a relationship already. Your insurance company’s preferred mechanic might work well if you don’t have your own lined up or you need your claim handled as quickly as possible.

    If you’re not happy with your repair shop options, compare car insurance companies to find one with your choice of mechanic or a better group of recommended providers.

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