If your vehicle is damaged in a crash, your insurer should help pay for any repairs needed. You may, however, be unsure whether you have the right to select the repair shop or if you are obligated to go to one recommended by your insurer. These concerns are valid and why understanding your rights in this situation is important.
Our legal team at Greg Monforton & Partners is prepared to discuss these rights in a free consultation. There is no risk or legal obligation involved. We do not get paid unless we obtain compensation for you.
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Ontario drivers have certain legal rights under the law. This includes the right to select your own repair shop as long as your insurer approves the estimate. A repair shop cannot legally charge you more than 10 percent above the original written estimate and you do not need to have more than one estimate.
Your insurer will still be responsible for managing your claim and covering the cost of repairs even if you choose where to take your vehicle for repairs. Your insurer is obligated to return your vehicle to its former condition before the crash.
If concealed damages are discovered while your vehicle is being repaired, the shop will submit a supplement to your insurer documenting any extra repairs or replacement expenses. At this point, further vehicle repairs will stop until the supplement is approved by your insurer.
Your insurer will likely suggest one of their preferred repair shops. Although you are not obligated to take these suggestions, there are some benefits. Preferred repair shops from insurance companies are often reputable establishments known for providing quality work.
You may find it easier to take your vehicle to a recommended repair shop. The entire process can go a lot smoother. The repairs, paperwork and payment can be handled faster.
However, it is important to note that if you go with your insurer’s suggested repair shop, betterment charges may apply. If the repairs significantly improve the appearance of your vehicle compared to what it was before the crash, your insurer may require that you contribute towards this betterment.
For instance, if you had a rusted door panel that was damaged in a crash and it needed to be replaced, you may have to pay any difference out of pocket for the betterment of the vehicle.
Your insurer does have the right to repair, rebuild or replace any damaged parts in your vehicle with parts of like kind and quality. For older vehicles, this may mean getting used replacement parts.
For instance, if your bumper is damaged after being rear-ended and your vehicle is more than five years old, your insurer will likely have the damaged bumper replaced with a used one of like kind and quality as the original bumper. If you have a newer vehicle, your insurer will likely use new replacement parts.
Most insurance companies, however, despite the age of your vehicle, are obligated to replace any safety-related parts damaged in a crash with new parts. Examples include air bags and antilock brakes.
You may have previously taken your vehicle to a repair shop and had a positive experience. Perhaps you have a mechanic you know and trust. It may bring comfort knowing that the work done will be good.
The preferred repair shops suggested by your insurer may be too far from home. It may be more beneficial for you to select a shop that is convenient, saving you time and gas money.
Additionally, it may be a good idea to ask your family members, friends and co-workers for advice. They may have the contact details of a repair shop they have used before and can vouch for the work performed.
When you take your vehicle in for repairs, your consumer rights are covered under the Consumer Protection Act. This protection applies to any location that offers vehicle repairs.
Before any shop can charge for repairs, they must give you a written estimate. You have the right to decline a written estimate and instead set a maximum price you are willing to pay for repairs. The final cost charged cannot be higher than the agreed amount.
Parts and labour generally have a warranty for up to 90 days or 5,000 km – whichever comes first. The repair shop may also offer additional coverage beyond the warranty limits.
Before you decide to take your vehicle for repairs, it is important to do your research. The last thing you want is botched repair work from a shop you assumed was credible. Ask yourself these questions:
After your vehicle is repaired, inspect the repairs up close and at a distance. Look at the paint color and make sure it was matched correctly. Take your vehicle for a test drive to check for mechanical repairs and if all indicator lights are still present. If you are dissatisfied, address your concerns right then and there.
Our car accident lawyers based in Windsor are ready to discuss your rights during a free initial consultation. Our firm has successfully recovered $300 million for our clients across Ontario. There are no upfront fees to retain our services and no fees while we investigate and work on a case.
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