Auto Rights & Responsibilities – Auto Body Repair

Note: Never drive a car that could be unsafe because of damages. 

How Do I Choose the Right Repair Shop?

  • You should start by checking with the Auto Body Association of CT (ABAC). A list of member shops can be found at www.abaconn.com.
  • Ask if the shop will be using genuine manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts.
  • Ask if shop offers warranty.
  • Ask if shop is a member of ABAC.

Do Insurance Companies Fix Cars?

  • No. Insurance companies do not fix cars; they only pay for the cost to repair your car.
  • Make sure you know who is actually fixing your car. If you left your car at a drive-in claims center, you might be surprised to know who is actually fixing your car.

I Want A Safe Repair and I Don’t Trust the Insurance Company to Protect My Rights, What Do I Do?

  • YOUR CAR, YOUR CHOICE. Under Connecticut Law, you have the right to choose the repair facility of your choice.
  • You do not have to take your car to a drive-in claims center or other insurance company facility.
  • Your insurance company may try to coerce you into using its direct repair program (e.g. “preferred program”, “blue ribbon program”, or “concierge program”) for repairs or to be appraised. You do not have to do this.
  • A direct repair program (DRP) is a contractual arrangement between the repair shop and the insurance company. DRP arrangements are controversial because they put pressure on the repairer to keep  costs down, often at the expense of the customer.
  • It is generally in your best interest to choose an independent repair facility that will be looking out for you – and not conflicted by its obligations to an insurance company.

TIP:

Before you choose a repair shop, ask the shop if it has contractual arrangement with your insurance company or the insurance company for the at-fault driver. 

How Do I Ensure Quality Parts Are Used In My Repair?

  • You should always ask about the parts that will be used for the repair of your vehicle.
  • Whenever possible, you should insist on OEM parts.
  • If your insurance company refuses to pay for OEM parts, have your insurance company send you the applicable section of your insurance contract authorizing it to refuse payment for OEM parts.
  • If non-approved parts are used, it could void your manufacturer’s warranty and cause a decrease in the value to your vehicle – or even compromise the safety of your vehicle.
  • If you have questions or concerns about the use of aftermarket or used parts, contact an attorney or the Auto Body Association of CT

What’s the Difference Between OEM, Aftermarket and Recycled Parts?

  • OEM – parts are new parts made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle.
  • Aftermarket-  Parts are often inferior parts that are not manufactured by the Original Equipment Manufacturer.
  • Recycled – Parts, sometimes referred to as salvage, reconditioned or used parts, are frequently obtained from auto recyclers or junk yadds and can be either OEM or non-OEM parts.
  • Recycled – or Non-OEM – parts may be used for repair work, but you should be notified of that faction the repair estimate.
  • Independent repairers often argue against the use of certain recycled and aftermarket parts on the grounds that they are not as dependable or sage as OEM parts. Make sure to talk to your repairer about whether recycled or aftermarket parts are being used and how they could affect the safety of your repair.

Can an Insurance Company Certify My Vehicle Repairs Are Safe? 

  • No.
  • When the vehicle is done, make sure that a licensed repairer tells you that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.

What Does it Mean When I’m Told My Car is a Total Loss?

  • When the  cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its value, or, depending on your policy, the repair cost will exceed 80% of your vehicle’s value, your vehicle will be deemed a “Total Loss”.
  • Insurance Companies have the authority to declare a vehicle a “Total Loss”,  but the are subject to regulation by the Insurance Department.
  • Under Connecticut law, a vehicle may be declared a “constructive total loss” when the cost to repair or salvage the damaged property, or the cost to both repair and salvage such property, equals or exceeds the total value of the property at the time of loss. In such a case, the car will be deemed a total loss.

I Don’t Want My Car Totaled, Is There Anything I Can Do About It?

  • Unfortunately, it the criteria apply, you cannot avoid totaling your vehicle. So, for example, even if you can get the car fixed for less than what the insurance company estimates,or can otherwise reduce the cost of repairs, you will not be able to stop the total loss.
  • If your insurance company has determined that your vehicle is a “total loss” or the word “Salvage” has been stamped on the title, it is illegal to operate this vehicle upon any road in Connecticut. Technically, the registration on this vehicle has been cancelled and you should remove the plates from your vehicle.

My Car Has Been Totaled, Is There Anything I Can Do To Get It Back on The Road?

  • You can rebuild a salvaged vehicle, but in order to get the vehicle back on the road, you must re-title the vehicle. The vehicle cannot be re-titled until it passes a Salvage Inspection.
  • Check with the DMV for more information concerning salvage inspection procedures and locations: http://www.ct.gov/dmv;    (800-842-8222).

How is The Value of My Car Determined? 

  • The insurance company is required to use at least the average of the retail values according to NADA Used Car Guide (www.nadaguides.com) and one other automobile industry source approved by the Insurance Commissioner.
  • The insurance company must give you a copy of the information relied upon in determining the value of your car.
  • It is not uncommon for insurance companies to underestimate the value of your car of the damages sustained to a repairable car. Don’t hesitate to get an explanation for the method used to calculate the value of your vehicle. If you continue to have any concerns, contract an attorney.

 Remember

You have the right to have your vehicle repaired at a facility of your choice!

YOUR CAR, YOUR CHOICE

Don’t let an insurance company take away your rights.

Message brought to you by

Auto Body Association of CT & Buckley Wynne & Parese