Know Your Insurance

The best time to select the right insurance company is before you are in an accident. Unfortunately many people become familiar with the claims handling of their insurance company and the fine print of their auto policy in the middle of having a vehicle repaired.

For example, many insurance companies enlist the use of aftermarket parts on your vehicle during an auto repair. Aftermarket parts are, many times, inferior in fit and durability. If you are the proud owner of a newer model vehicle and would never think of having an inferior part installed on it make sure your policy reads as such. If the insurance company is paying for aftermarket replacement parts during a repair there are a few options for you the vehicle owner. Insurance providers will generally only give the option that you as the owner can pay the difference for the “better/OEM” part. Realistically there are other possibilities, however they will always delay the repairs. It’s best to request new OEM parts upfront and find out what your policy covers.

Deductibles and car rental coverage are other details to pay attention to. It is not uncommon for a customer to call their insurance agent with an interest in lowering their premiums, only to have their deductible limits increased, their liability limits lowered and their rental coverage eliminated. Make sure that the insurance policy you are paying for is one that you can afford to have if a loss should occur.

The State of Michigan is a ‘No Fault’ state. This essentially means that, in the event of an auto accident, your insurance will cover the damage to your vehicle regardless of who is issued the ticket. Depending on the type of coverage you purchase, you may still be responsible for your deductible. There is a law in place called ‘Mini-Tort’ that enables you to recover part or all of your deductible, depending on the amount of it. For more information on this topic visit:

Although you may be required by state law to have auto-insurance you are still the customer to your insurance carrier. When damage is sustained on your vehicle and you call to make a claim, you are simply asking them to honor a mutual agreement in which you pay a premium and they cover expenses in an unfortunate and unforeseen occurrence. A popular misconception among vehicle owners is that the insurance company is now in control of their vehicle and will ‘raise their rates’ if they do not do what they are instructed before and during the repair process. You are the vehicle owner and you have every right to make a wide array of decisions about the repair process ie. Where the vehicle is repaired, and how it gets there. The repair is between you, the owner, and the repair shop of your choice. Always remember insurance companies don’t repair cars and trucks for a living, they only pay the bills. According to the State of Michigan, licensed technicians and vehicle manufacturers are the professional opinion when repairing cars and trucks.

A popular trend in the auto insurance & auto repair industry is the existence of Direct Repair Programs (DRP’s). This is a contractual agreement between insurance companies and select collision shops, in which reduced labor rates and possible other discounts are agreed upon in exchange for referral work. Depending on the insurance carrier, the agreement could include the consistent use of aftermarket parts on every auto repair. In all cases this business practice motivates the insurance carrier to ‘steer’ you to the Direct Repair Facility. There are key points that an insurance company will use to entice and intimidate the customer into taking their vehicle to a select shop. We would like to dislodge some of these selling points because, as a premier and professional repair facility, some of them just don’t hold true for us:

  • Vehicle Warranty – Regardless of how we come to repair your vehicle, whether you decided to come here because a friend or family member suggested us, or that your insurance company referred you, we offer a Lifetime Warranty on workmanship at Clarkston Auto Body. This warranty is good as long as you own your vehicle and has no bearing on our relationship with your insurance company. While the insurance company may stress that they will not warranty repairs performed by a non-DRP, they are not the ones repairing your vehicle. We do the repairs. We offer the warranty. Period.
  • Saving Time – Everybody is busy. That is truer now than it ever was. We understand that you want your vehicle back as soon as possible. You will be happy to know that we want your vehicle done too! We will do everything we can to get you back on the road in a timely manner. Your insurance company has a responsibility of acting in a timely manner to the shop you choose to repair your vehicle.
  • Quality Repair – A lot of fancy terms may come up when an insurance company is trying to convince you to use one of their shops… “Blue Ribbon”, “Preferred”, “Pro Shop”, “Circle of Dependability”, “Concierge”, etc. These are just names selected for programs they have in place. Clarkston Auto Body is a top-shelf collision shop. Our reputation is in great standing in this community because we care about quality and service, we care about you and your vehicle…. We just don’t have a fancy name for it.

The bottom line is that it is important to be informed about your insurance coverage. Being aware of how it all works is a key factor in making sure your vehicle is brought back to it’s pre-accident condition and it’s safety, performance and resale value is preserved. The adage “You Get What You Pay For” applies here just as much as it does almost anywhere else. There are some good insurance companies out there that really care about more than just their profit margins. If you are having any difficulty in selecting an insurance carrier call our office, we would be happy to give you a list of several that offer policies that exclude the use of aftermarket parts and provide quality customer service.