After you have been in an accident, the insurance company, whether it is yours or the other persons, will “suggest” a repair shop for you. I say “suggest” because they will tell you it is one of their “preferred shops” and they will guarantee the repairs.
Some of these preferred shops are great. I am a big fan of Autobody Expressions in Elk Grove, CA. They do some of the best work I have seen and they are great. The service is great, the repairs are great, everything is great. They are also a preferred shop for several insurance companies.
However, this is probably the exception, and not the rule. There is a reason the insurance company wants you to go to a particular shop, usually. It is not always because the shop provides the best service. Rather, it is economics.
If the insurance company gives 10 repairs a month to Shop ABC, and you are one of them, who will the shop push for in a dispute: you or the insurance company? Imagine that you want a new door and the insurance company wants an aftermarket door. If the shop is getting a lot of work from the insurance company, aren’t they more likely to do what the insurance company wants?
Also, the insurance company saves money if the shop is a preferred shop. How? The shop will take pictures of your car, write an estimate, and send it all electronically to an appraiser sitting in an office. This is much less expensive than having an appraiser go out and inspect the car. So, it is in the insurance company’s best interest to have the car fixed at its preferred shop.
What do I recommend? Call your friends and family and ask for recommendations. Find a shop that you are comfortable with. It may be the shop that the insurance company recommends, but it may not be.
You need to make sure that your car is being fixed by people you choose, and not let the insurance company bully you around.