Tucson Auto Body Pros Warn Against Insurance “Steering”

Any Tucson auto body repair center worth trusting will care every bit as much about offering the fairest price possible as restoring your vehicle’s former glory following an accident. That’s why we dream of a world in which auto insurance companies can no longer get away with “steering” trusting customers toward shops that overcharge for substandard work.

For the record, no auto body repair business would ever again abuse the “Discount” descriptor in its name, if we had our say. Call us idealists, but we strongly believe that businesses and consumers alike win anytime attentive work delivered at a fair price is a sweeping status quo. To us, “Discount” implies something rare and irresistibly exceptional about affordability. Worse, it stresses a remarkably low price, to the point of an element of novelty, over the one question that should trump any and all others in any auto repair specialty: has the vehicle been repaired as thoroughly and safely as possible up to manufacturer standards?

It’s easy to be cynical and write off all auto insurers as legally sanctioned racketeers or even to smirk and ask, “What auto body repair shop in Tucson DOESN’T care first and foremost about money over safety?” Trust us, there’s no implication you could make to either point that we haven’t heard a thousand times before. It’s a sadly suspicious world, but it would be no more fair of us to make overly broad generalities about insurers than to be constantly prejudiced toward every driver of a certain age who drives some certain kind or another of vehicle.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t both insurers and auto body repair shops that have a top priority other than guaranteed customer satisfaction. Some collision repair specialists will compromise the integrity of their work without a second thought if it means undercutting competitive prices.  Some particularly advantageous insurers won’t hesitate to steer drivers toward these shops by any means necessary, if it means paying the smallest claim possible.

It’s a symbiotic relationship built on mortgaged customer satisfaction.

Fortunately, shady insurance steering is relatively obvious to catch, provided you know the cues. We’ve heard it all…

  • “Hm. You would be better off going to one of these preferred shops. That one is almost always a problem for us.”There’s a good chance you’ve chosen a reputable auto body repair specialist who won’t save the insurer money with cheap, slap-dash work.


  • “We’d really like to save you money. This shop will cost you a lot more than one of ours.”It’s nothing more than a scare tactic by the purse string-holders who have to foot the bill for every accident-related repair.


  • “If you go with that shop, we can’t/won’t warrany the repairs.”Before you believe this, get the “warranty” in writing and a clarification of exactly who will perform the repairs under it. Insurers don’t make repairs. They cover costs. Warranty repairs aren’t really their business.


  • “If you use that shop, we can’t provide a rental.”If someone else hits you, then as the claimant, their insurance picks up the tab for a rental. If that falls on your insurer and you know your policy includes rental coverage, call them on it.


  • “Our appraiser disagreed with their estimate.”OK…and?

    The insurance adjuster won’t be repairing your vehicle and has no room to negotiate. It’s easy for an auto body repair shop to suddenly “agree” with an appraiser upon smelling a referral-friendly relationship. It’s your vehicle. You have to drive it, not an appraiser.


  • “That shop isn’t on our preferred list.”If you haven’t guessed by now, “preferred” often implies a signed agreement binding a shop to pre-negotiate repairs using not only insurer discounts, but potentially inferior parts and a willingness to skip necessary processes in the interest of lower costs. The worst part? More than one shop with such an agreement rationalizes cutting corners by deciding that the insurer “paying the bill” is their real customer that needs satisfying.

    Be advised, the “preferred shop” ploy often includes a threat that seeking repairs outside their chosen partners will delay an adjuster inspection of your vehicle and hold up your repairs. That’s the insurer’s problem, not yours. In fact, most state insurers are bound by law to a reasonable window in which they have to respond to your claim.


  • And finally…“We can pay our shop directly and speed up your repairs.”

    That isn’t the way the process works. You pay the shop. They write you a check. If they want to pay directly and skirt that arrangement, it shouldn’t matter where you take your vehicle.


Don’t be manipulated. Your safety and ultimate satisfaction shouldn’t come with a price tag. Unfortunately, these tactics aren’t technically criminal, no matter how much any ethical auto body repair shop in Tempe will believe they should be. Read between the lines, get EVERYTHING in writing, and remember that it’s your money.