If you’ve been in a car wreck, you’ve undoubtedly dealt with your insurance company and they probably told you to go to this shop but not that shop or that shop there but not this one over here. You may have even heard the term “preferred shop” thrown around. But what is a preferred shop? Essentially, a preferred shop is a shop that has agreed to “play ball” with the insurance company. This means that in return for the insurance company recommending its customers to that shop, the shop agrees to repair the car to the insurer’s specifications. In other words, the shop does the repairs at the lowest possible cost to the insurance company, even if that means compromising on the repairs to your vehicle.
You may still be asking, “Why is this important? Why does it matter whether or not I go to a preferred shop?” To understand this, imagine you’re hungry and you want a hamburger. You have several different choices but you’re not really sure where to go. You ask a friend and they tell you that you should go to his “preferred” restaurant because it’s cheaper. You think, “Oh, this place is cheaper and my friend recommended it so I should go there.” However, what you don’t know is that for every person your friend sends to the restaurant, he gets a little kickback from the restaurant. The burgers there are a little substandard and aren’t exactly top quality. The only reason your friend recommended it is because of his kickback. On the other hand, there is another restaurant down the street that serves burgers as well. Your friend told you that you shouldn’t go there because they are a little more expensive. You shouldn’t have to pay extra for something that is basically the same thing, right? Well, what they don’t tell you is that they are NOT the same thing. The shop down the street serves a much higher quality of hamburger. The two burgers don’t even compare. The “preferred” burger is small and cold and is made with a very low grade beef. The other restaurant makes its burgers with Grade-A top sirloin. Not to mention the fact that the price for the sirloin is actually about the same as the price for the low grade. So, not only are you getting a much high quality burger, you’re getting it for the same price. Which would you choose?
This is the world of body shops. The insurance company wants you to go to its “preferred” shop and get the low quality repair because they get something out of it. The shop that doesn’t go along with the insurance company offers a much higher quality repair because it is not willing to compromise on the repair to save the insurance company money. In the end, you can go where your insurance company wants you to and get a poorly done, low grade fix or you can go to the shop down the street and get a Grade-A repair.