What you need to know when your car needs to be repaired after an accident
After a car accident your insurance company may recommend you use a direct repair program (DRP) and offer the option of using generic auto parts for the repair. It’s important to understand these options and their insurance ramifications.
Overview: DRPs and generic replacement parts
To help policyholders with the auto repair process, some insurance companies offer direct repair programs so that their customers have easy access to a recommended body shop. Some also offer one-stop shopping where a damaged car can get dropped off and an adjuster handles the claim, the car is fixed and often a replacement rental car is provided.
In addition, when fixing the car, an auto repair shop may provide a choice between original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and generic replacement parts. Both DRPs and generic parts help to keep costs down and keep insurance prices competitive.
When navigating the accident claims process, it is important to understand the different DRP and generic replacement part options, what choices are available to you under your policy and what makes sense for your situation. Use these frequently asked questions to help guide you.
Q: What is a Direct Repair Program
A: A DRP is a network of auto repair shops and dealerships approved by an insurer.
Q: Why do auto insurers offer direct repair programs?
A: DRPs help auto insurers provide their customers with quality repairs at a reasonable cost.
Q: Are DRP auto repair shops reliable?
A: Auto repair shops and dealerships that participate in a DRP are carefully vetted by insurers to ensure they provide high quality repair and service to policyholders. Insurers also offer a lifetime guarantee on workmanship to customers who decide to use the DRP shops.
Q: May I use an auto repair shop of my choice for insured repairs?
A: Yes. Consumers have the right to go to the auto shop of their choice and get their own repair estimate. They are not required to use a direct repair program offered by their insurance company. Policyholders should talk to their insurance company about their specific procedures.
Q: What are generic crash parts?
A: There are two types of crash parts: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which are supplied by auto manufacturers under their own name; and generic, or aftermarket, crash parts. Generic parts are frequently produced in the same factory as the OEM parts, but may also be produced by independent manufacturers. They are generally limited to the cosmetic parts of the car that form the outside “skin” such as fenders, hoods and door panels, which are frequently damaged in an auto crash.
Q: Are generic parts safe?
A: Yes. Studies show that these exterior generic parts do not compromise the safety of a vehicle. Auto insurers only want safe cars put back on the road—not only will they be insuring these cars, they are also committed to auto and highway safety. In addition, the independent, non-profit organization Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) rigorously inspects generic auto parts and guarantees that the quality of the parts meets its standards.
Q: Do I have a choice of generic or OEM parts?
A: Some auto insurance companies offer their policyholders a choice between generic and OEM parts. Some policies actually specify that only original equipment manufacturer parts must be used for repairs, while others require this only when repairing recent model cars. A few states mandate that insurance companies must offer generic parts when they exist. These requirements and options will be included in your auto policy—read it carefully and speak with an insurance professional to best understand your coverage.
Q: Can my insurance company require me to use certain types of auto repair parts?
A: No. Insurance companies cannot require a policyholder to use only certain kinds of auto repair parts. However, if the company’s rates are based on using a certain type of part, the insurer can ask you to pay the difference if the part you prefer is more expensive.
Q: What if the parts don’t fit?
A: A generic part is no less likely to fit a vehicle than an OEM part. In the unlikely event that either type of part does not fit the vehicle, the insurance company will often pay to replace the part at no extra cost.
Q: How can I find out if generic parts are used in repairing my car?
A: Many states require that estimates prepared by auto body shops disclose whether the repair job will use generic parts. Insurers are also required to disclose that they are using parts “at least equal in the kind and quality in terms of fit, quality, and performance to the original manufacturer parts they are replacing.” If in doubt, ask your auto body repair specialist what types of parts are being installed.
Q: Will the use of generic parts reduce the value of my car?
A: No. Diminished value could occur if your vehicle has a significant collision history. However your car would not be diminished further in value by the use of generic parts.
Q: What if I lease my car?
A: Lease agreements clearly spell out what type of parts may or may not be used when a car is repaired.
Q: What are the benefits of using generic parts?
A: There are many benefits to using generic parts. First, they are 26 to 50 percent less expensive than OEM parts and often have longer warranties. The introduction of aftermarket parts has also forced down the price of OEM parts by creating competition in the marketplace.
If you’re in need of auto repair, here’s how to determine your car’s value and the cost of repair.