When consumers shop for insurers, we look for those good rates and that friendly local insurance agent who we know will have our back come an emergency. The thing we often don’t realize is that that friendly insurance agent is not the person who handles our claim. Once a claim is filed, it is sent to a claims adjuster, sometimes many states over, who knows you as a claim number, not a neighbor.
It is easy for the consumer to form an opinion on how the claim representative handles their claim, whether good or bad, but it is also good to take into account how the body shops would rate the insurance company. This is because the auto repair industry has changed over the years to an industry greatly influenced by insurer-repairer relationships.
Their are typically two kinds of relationships. If an insurance company gets a shop to sign a contract with them, stating the repairs will be done by insurance company standards, then that shop is deemed “preferred” by the insurance company. On the other hand, if a shop does not sign a contract with the insurance company, this can lead to friction as the shop stands its ground each day to stay out of insurance company control and repair vehicles by the original manufacturer standards. Often times, customers hear insurance companies list which shops they like and which shops they don’t, but what about the body shop’s list of which insurance companies handle claims best and which don’t?
In 2011, Body Shop Business put together an industry profile exploring the concept of insurer-repairer relations. It surveyed body shops, preferred and non-preferred, on their relationships with insurance companies. Fifty-five percent of “preferred” shops said the concept of having “preferred” shops was bad for the industry, and 84 percent of “non-preferred” shops agreed. To back this up, 83 percent of “preferred” shops say they lose business due to insurance companies steering customers to other shops. Ninety-three percent of “non-preferred” shops said they also lose business because of insurance companies controlling their customers.
In the same survey, the number one reason customers allowed themselves to be steered was because they feared not going where their insurer told them. There are a number of things that could cause this sense of fear, but what shop’s hear customers express the most is the fear of paying money out of their own pocket. It is important you become familiar with the policy you have with your insurance company so that your relationship with them is clear to you. That will help you know your rights when it comes to auto, or even home, repair.
The chart below is also a part of the industry profile conducted by Body Shop Business. Click to Enlarge. It showcases how the shops rate certain insurance companies. The ratings vary from shop to shop and as the industry continues to change, but this chart does provide something to think about.