I was recently involved in a collision and my insurance company has suggested I take my car to a shop they work with. Do I have to use the repair shop they recommended?
No. Oregon law prohibits an insurer from making the use of a certain repair shop a condition for payment. Many insurers have established relationships with repair shops. Some consumers like the idea of a repair network, some don't. It's up to you who repairs your car.
A little history might be helpful. Consumers used to get estimates and send them in to their insurance company. In the 70's many insurance companies established drive in claims services where a consumer could bring the car in and an adjuster would evaluate the damage. In the 90's many insurance companies started direct repair networks, kind of like the preferred provider organizations that we see in health insurance.
Sometimes consumers already have a relationship with a repair shop. If you don't, we suggest you approach your car repair in the same way you would when selecting any product or service. Do your research, ask for referrals, check with the Better Business Bureau and possibly visit more than one repair shop to find the best combination of price and performance.
Once you make your choice, notify your insurer and be sure you have agreement regarding what the shop is charging and what the insurance company will pay before you sign any contract with the repair shop. Oregon administrative rules state an estimate prepared by an insurer or repair shop shall be in the amount for which the damage may reasonably be expected to be satisfactorily repaired. If you choose the most expensive shop in town, the insurance company may not be willing to pay the whole amount.