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What is California’s Law on Auto Body Shop Repairs?

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California law protects customers from the more unscrupulous acts of insurance companies. If your car was damaged in an accident and you’ve filed for insurance coverage, you are entitled to certain rights. Below, our experienced Lancaster car accident lawyer lays out several of the more notable provisions of California’s laws regarding auto body shop repairs and insurance coverage. If you were in an accident in Los Angeles or the Antelope Valley and would benefit from experienced legal assistance, call our Lancaster traffic accident attorney today.

Choosing Where to Get Your Car Repaired After an Accident

If you get into a car accident and your vehicle repairs are covered by insurance, the insurance company might recommend that you see a particular auto repair shop to get the repairs. The reason they do this is the same reason insurance companies do anything: to protect their bottom line. They will have repair shops with whom they have a “preferred” relationship; they may call this a “direct” repair facility. What it really means is that the insurance company and the auto shop have an arrangement. The insurer likely gets a bit of a discount for steering customers to that particular shop. You are not, however, obligated to go where they tell you to go.

California law specifically provides that auto insurance companies cannot require customers to go to a particular repair facility. The state considers that an unfair practice, preferring to give car owners the freedom of choice. In fact, the insurer must explicitly tell you that you have the right to go to any auto repair shop you choose, and they shouldn’t even give you a recommendation unless you specifically ask for one.

Repair Estimates

California law requires auto insurance companies to provide customers with a written estimate of the repair costs, including an explicit breakdown of the repairs and costs for restoring the vehicle to its prior condition.

Repair Shop Estimate vs. Insurance Company’s Estimate

The insurance company’s estimate of the repair cost may differ from the auto repair shop’s estimate. If the repair shop’s estimate is lower, the insurer will gladly take the lower cost and pay the bill in accordance with the policy. If the repair shop’s estimate is higher than the claims adjuster’s estimate, however, the insurer has a few options:

  • The insurer can agree to pay the difference between their estimate and the repair shop’s estimate.
  • The insurer can suggest other repair shops where the customer might go in order to get cheaper repairs. They must provide at least three options for the customer to choose from, and they must guarantee that the quality of the repair and restoration will be at least as good quality as the repairs offered by the shop with the higher estimate.
  • The insurer can work to adjust the repair shop’s estimate.

Rental Car Coverage

Your insurance company is responsible for informing you about your rental car coverage while your vehicle is under repair. They must send you a notice advising you as to whether your plan includes rental car coverage, the extent of the coverage, the daily rate they are willing to cover, and how many days you can rent a vehicle under your policy.

Call a Dedicated Lancaster Car Accident Lawyer Today for Help

At Kistler Law Firm, our team of seasoned legal professionals will help fight for your rights not only for the medical care you deserve, but also for your property damage coverage and other benefits owed by insurance providers or at-fault drivers. Reach out today to speak with a team member who will help you navigate your case.

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