The Right to Choose.
That is the crux of the issue in auto body repair as insurance companies try to control the care of your vehicle the way they control your personal healthcare. It is your right to choose your own collision repair facility and to have the insurance company pay for safe and proper repairs to your vehicle so it retains its value and meets important safety standards.

However, insurance companies often do not volunteer information about those rights or what is at stake in the selection of a repair facility. Instead when you report a collision and need information about how to get your vehicle repaired efficiently and effectively, the insurance representative is likely to tell you about referral shops or preferred shops or merely provide a list of licensed auto repair shops in the state. That’s not much help.

Click here to get to a list of questions about your rights in the event of an accident.

Knowledge is Power.
To help consumers like you navigate through what can be a confusing process, CARE has summarized your rights regarding auto repair and highlighted what is at stake in auto body repair.

Know Your Rights.
In Massachusetts, you have the absolute right to select the collision repair shop of your choice to make repairs. No insurance company or independent agent or representative or staff member of an insurance company or appraiser can legally refer you to or away from any specific repair shop or require that repairs be made by a specific repair shop or individual. Nor can they require you to have your vehicle inspected at their drive-in claims center. If you request it, your insurer must inspect the damage to your vehicle at your chosen collision repair shop. (Reg 212 CMR 2:04(c) and MGL 26 8G)

  • You have the right to have your vehicle towed to any location that you choose.
  • You must notify your insurance company before repairs begin.
  • You do not have to go to a drive-in claims center. Your insurer must inspect the vehicle at any location you choose.
  • You do not need to get two or three appraisals.
  • Your insurance company is responsible for payment to restore your vehicle to pre-accident condition.
  • Your insurer must negotiate in good faith with the shop of your choice.
  • The registered repair shop you choose can provide an estimate of damage and assist you with the processing of your claim to ensure safe and proper repairs are made to your vehicle.

Click here to get to a list of questions about your rights in the event of an accident.

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Make Informed Decisions.
There are compelling reasons to choose a trusted provider who you know will make sure the vehicle is truly restored to its pre-accident condition, rather than one "suggested" by the insurance company. Factors to consider include:

Who does the shop actually work for – you or the insurance company?
Referral repair shops work for the insurance company. Independent repair shops work for the consumer.

Insurance appraisers work for the insurance company. Independent collision repair facilities work for you. They are looking out for your best interest. They will negotiate directly with the insurance company for the proper repairs so that your vehicle is safe for you and your family. Independent collision repairers look out for your interests and will serve as your advocate in the repair process.

Preferred or referral repair shops represent the insurance company in both negotiations and the repair of the vehicle. They contract with insurance companies regarding the repairs, the costs and the repair procedures. The insurance company sets the rules and the repair shop simply follows them to keep the insurance company's costs down. But the cost reduction has to come from somewhere. It may affect the quality and thoroughness of the repair service and/or the quality and condition of the parts used. You have paid your insurance premiums with the expectation of receiving safe and proper repairs – not cheap repairs.

Click here to get to a list of questions about your rights in the event of an accident.

What kind of parts will be used to repair your vehicle?
The best assurance you have of a correct repair is through the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Other companies manufacture parts that are made to look like your vehicle’s parts, but may never have been crash tested and may affect the performance and safety of your vehicle.

They are not covered under your vehicle manufacturer’s warranty and there are no provisions for recalls based on the safety or performance of these parts. Consumer Reports reported on the results of its extensive study of non-OEM parts in its cover story in the February 1999 issue.

Your insurance company may attempt to use imitation parts to save money on your vehicle’s repairs. Independent repair facilities will help you negotiate with your insurance company for the appropriate original equipment manufacturer’s parts to maintain the integrity and value of your vehicle.

Select a question from the list below

What should I do if I am involved in an accident?

Do I have to take my vehicle to a drive-in claims center or get multiple appraisals?

Do I have to use a specific collision repair facility?

What is "steering"?

How do I know if I am being steered?

Why should I choose my own collision repair facility rather than one "suggested" by the insurance company?

What are imitation or non-OEM parts?

Who guarantees the workmanship for the repairs?

What can I do if I believe my rights have been infringed upon by my insurance company?

What can I do to protect my rights?

Control Your Decisions.

Exercise Your Rights
Don’t allow the insurance companies to make decisions for you. Don’t be intimidated. Steering is illegal in Massachusetts. Don’t allow insurance companies or agents to steer you to a specific shop rather than a trusted shop of your choosing. The practice of steering places insurance company profits ahead of public safety and penalizes repair shops that place customer safety first.

Preserve Your Rights.
If you feel your rights have been violated, let state regulators and legislators know what happened and that you understand and value your Right to Choose. As an affiliate of the Massachusetts Auto Body Association, CARE works to preserve and strengthen laws and regulations protecting your rights through our legislative initiatives.

Ensure Your Safety and the Safety of Your Family. Ensure the Value of Your Vehicle.

To help you protect your safety and investment, we have provided answers to frequently asked questions about your rights and what is at stake as insurance companies try to control the care of your vehicle the way they control your personal health care. Call our toll free hotline at 1-877-294-3368.