Collision repairs shops can provide you with everything that you need to get repairs done on your car. Such shops have the technicians, tools and experience to handle your work or at least they should. It is important that you carefully research any business that says they can handle your job. The following are some of the important features of such businesses.

1. They’ll work with your insurance company. Yes, it is true: the best of the collision repair shops have an outstanding reputation and regularly receive referrals from auto insurance companies. Your insurer may recommend a shop and if you choose to work with them, they’ll work with your insurer too. This means that a shop representative will go to bat for you if certain repairs or parts cost more than what the insurer originally estimated. That’s an advocate you need.

2. They’re part of the local community. You know that a collision repair shop has a very good reputation if they are an integral part of the community. This not only means that their service bays are busy and parking lots are full, but that the company supports the town where they live. Typically, this includes sponsoring a youth sports league, providing car repair clinics at the local community college and hosting other special events. A strong business partner makes for a good community.

3. You’ll get a written estimate. Not all collision repair shops offer written estimates. So, caveat emptor. The reputable shops, however, will stand by their estimates and offer them in writing. Furthermore, they will contact you if there is any discrepancy that might affect your final bill. Ask for a comprehensive estimate that outlines the repairs to be made, the parts used, disposal fees, taxes and labor costs. There shouldn’t be any surprises — estimates routinely come within 5 to 10 percent of the final price. Anything higher and you need to negotiate for a lower price.

4. They have a strong business record. Beyond being a force in the local community, a worthwhile collision repair shop also has a strong reputation amongst its business peers. That is usually borne out in the company’s Better Business Bureau ranking. Contact the BBB and you may discover that some complaints were made. However, it is how the company handles those complaints that should tell you more. And if you need more information about the company and what customers think, reviews on Google, Yelp and Angie’s List can shed much light on that.

5. They have payment options. What happens if your auto body repairs exceed the amount covered by the insurer? Typically, you will pay for the difference unless you can renegotiate your insurance settlement. Fortunately, that means having access to a variety of credit cards to cover your costs. Shops also accept cash and many will take your check. Work on a payment agreement with the shop manager that suits you best.

6. Your shop is licensed. Or at least it should be. When visiting a collision repair shop, check for the company’s business license. Also, each technician should be certified with that certification prominently placed on the wall. If you have any questions about training and repairs, the shop manager should be willing to address those concerns.

Collision Considerations

One other matter of consideration when your car is being repaired: use of a replacement vehicle. Indeed, your insurance company may allow you to rent a car and cover those costs as long as your car is in the collision shop. Ask your agent about this possibility.