Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Apr 10, 2022

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Just What's Essential

  • Using body shops from the insurance company’s preferred list has a lifetime warranty
  • Some shops on the preferred list may not be familiar with your vehicle
  • Get several estimates before finalizing your claim

Did you know you could choose anybody shop to repair your vehicle after an accident? Most states allow drivers to determine which body shop they want to fix their car. 

However, some insurance companies may recommend repair shops from their preferred car repair list. But, is the preferred list a better option? Do not worry — we are here to help. Our guide explains the pros and cons of using a car insurance company’s preferred body shop list.

Can I choose any body shop to repair my car?

Yes, you can. Insurance companies are flexible and allow you to choose the body repair shop after an accident. However, they usually have a list of body repair shops you can choose from. 

Choosing from an auto insurance company’s preferred body shop list makes paperwork easier, but there are risks. So, let’s explore what a preferred body shop is in the insurance industry.

What is a preferred repair shop?

A preferred repair or body shop is a car repair shop partnered with your insurance company to handle your damage costs after you have filed a claim. Preferred repair shops are convenient for drivers who do not want to go through the hassle of finding the perfect body shop to fix repairs. 

Preferred car repair shops can bill your insurance company, and you will not have to make out-of-pocket payments. Also, you can get repair estimates approved much faster. 

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Why should you use your insurance company’s preferred repair shop list to repair your car?

Choosing the right repair shop to handle your damaged vehicle is an anxiety-inducing process. However, an insurance company with a preferred repair shop list makes the claims process more manageable.

Here are three reasons why you should use your car insurance company’s preferred repair shop list:

  • You can get service faster. Your insurance company sends all paperwork and payments to the body shop.
  • Insurance companies provide a lifetime warranty. If repairs are faulty, the insurance company can guarantee a warranty.
  • The body shop has a network. Repair shops with an established network can provide service anywhere in the United States.

You skip several steps by going with a repair shop on an insurance company’s preferred list. Yet, there are some drawbacks to using the preferred body shop list. 

Why should you not use your insurance company’s preferred repair shop list?

Using a body shop from your auto insurance company’s preferred repair shop list takes away some of your options. For example, your insurance company could choose the most cost-efficient option to repair your car instead of the most reliable.

If you do not ask your insurance company for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, they may ask the repair shop to use aftermarket parts. Sometimes, aftermarket parts are cheaper, but they could be less effective than the original manufacturer’s parts. 

You can always request that your insurance company use OEM parts during repairs, but the best repair shops always recommend OEM parts if they are available. 

Why should you choose your own repair shop to repair your car?

If you choose the repair shop, you will have more control over what parts are used. Here are three reasons why you should choose a body shop yourself:

  • You can ensure OEM parts are used. If you do not want aftermarket parts used in repairs, you can request OEM parts for the repair instead.
  • You do not have to wait for the insurance company. You do not have to wait for the insurance company to send the payment to the mechanic.
  • Drivers can negotiate a lower price. You can negotiate cheaper repair costs with a body shop. 

More control over how your vehicle is repaired can remove any worries about aftermarket parts or how much was paid to the repair shop. Unfortunately, there are some pitfalls to finding a repair shop yourself. 

Why should you not choose a repair shop?

The downsides to finding a repair shop yourself are higher costs after an approved estimate and securing the right repair quote that the insurance company agrees with. For example, an insurance company may approve your estimate and send a check to cover the cost. 

But what happens if the repair shop says you need more repairs? You will need to talk to your claim adjuster all over again to cover the cost of damage. 

If you are curious about how to file claims, check out our article on filing a car insurance claim at your insurance company.

What’s the average cost of car repairs?

The cost of repairs after an accident varies. It is difficult to pinpoint a dollar amount, but we researched for you and found rough estimates of repair costs for damaged vehicles.

Estimates for Car Repair Damage
Damaged PartsRepair Costs
Car Bumper (Front) Damage$300 to $1,500+
Car Windshield Damage$250 to $1,000+
Car Bumper (Rear) Damage$300 to $1,500+
Car Paint Damage$500 to $2,500+
Car Door Damage$75 to $1,000+
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The extent of the damage, the cost of parts, and the repair shop itself determine the overall cost of vehicle repairs. You can locate the most affordable quotes by comparing as many estimates as possible. 

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How do car insurance companies cover damage to your vehicle?

Auto insurance companies cover damaged vehicles through liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. However, each coverage pays for damage differently. Here’s how your car is covered by insurance:

  • Liability coverage. Your liability insurance will not cover damage to your car, but an at-fault driver’s liability car insurance will pay for your damaged vehicle.
  • Collision coverage. Your car insurance company will cover damage costs regardless of fault in an accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage. Your insurance company covers any damage to your vehicle that doesn’t involve a collision, such as fire damage, vehicle theft, storm damage, or any other damage from unforeseen incidents.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Your insurance company covers the cost of damage if a driver does not have insurance or does not have enough on their insurance limits to pay for your car’s damage expenses. 

If you have full coverage insurance, you will have these coverages on your policy. Liability-only insurance will not give you the benefits of collision, comprehensive, or UM/UIM coverage.

Full coverage auto insurance comes with a deductible, which is a fee you will have to pay before an insurance company moves a claim forward. Raising your deductible can produce more affordable car insurance rates, but lowering your deductible has the opposite effect. 

How much is full coverage car insurance?

Full coverage auto insurance is $94 a month on average. However, full coverage insurance rates vary for each state. Let’s look at the latest averages. 

Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by Coverage Type
StatesAverage Monthly Liability RatesAverage Monthly Collision RatesAverage Monthly Comprehensive RatesAverage Monthly Full Coverage Rates
District of Columbia$61$42$19$122
New Hampshire$35$27$10$72
New Jersey$77$34$11$121
New Mexico$46$25$16$87
New York$73$36$15$124
North Carolina$31$27$11$69
North Dakota$25$22$21$68
Rhode Island$71$38$11$121
South Carolina$53$25$16$94
South Dakota$27$19$25$72
West Virginia$43$29$18$89
*National Average$50$30$13$94
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Is your state cheaper than average? Your damaged vehicle is covered from various angles under full coverage auto insurance. You cannot activate full coverage after an accident if it is not part of your policy. 

Therefore, you will need full coverage insurance before an accident if you want to cover the cost of damage to your car regardless of fault. Also, full coverage eliminates expensive out-of-pocket costs at repair shops. 

Choose Any Body Shop to Repair My Car: The Bottom Line

Most insurance companies give you the option to choose a body or repair shop. However, if you choose a repair shop, the insurance company may require two to three estimates before approving your request. 

The claim process is more straightforward if you pick a repair shop from the preferred list. Your car insurance company has accounts with body shops on their preferred list, so paperwork and payments can move faster for you.