Accidents happen. That’s why you have insurance, right? Of course, the most important outcome of a car accident is that everyone’s okay. But even if no one’s hurt, your car will probably need a check-up.

Here’s how to find a body shop that’s reputable and reliable.

1. Talk to your insurance adjuster 

Before you do anything, talk to your insurance company to see if they have any procedures you need to follow. And when you’re ready for the repairs, make sure they’re coming from a legitimate place. Esurance policyholders can check out the E-star® network to find trustworthy, cutting-edge repair shops. With E-star, your repairs are guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle.

And as a bonus, these shops are technologically equipped with RepairView®, which allows you to follow the progress of your repairs whether you’re at home or on the go. You can log in to view your repair status, see a daily photo of your car repairs, contact the repair shop directly, and even find out when your car will be ready.

2. Get more than one estimate 

Even if you have a shop you normally use, it’s smart to get several estimates to compare. Don’t automatically choose the lowest one — make sure they’re including similar services. So if one shop is recommending a repair that the other isn’t, find out why and if it’s necessary. Some might deliberately lowball you to get you in the door and then add additional charges, so find out how firm the estimate is. You should also insist on approving any work before they start it. And remember to ask about their warranty or guarantee.

3. Visit the shop so they can see your car firsthand 

Beware any shop that wants to give you an estimate over the phone. There’s no way they can tell the extent of damage without seeing your vehicle. Many times, what looks like a simple fender bender actually turns out to be much more complex upon professional examination.

4. Seek referrals

The best place to start is by talking to friends and family about their experiences. You should also search online. Begin with your Better Business Bureau and then check out comparison sites like Yelp.

5. Know the difference between aftermarket parts and original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts

Aftermarket parts could be generic or even salvage parts, while OEM parts were made specifically for your vehicle. Before you decide to go the cheaper route, determine if aftermarket parts could void your car’s existing warranty.

6. Find out about your rental car coverage 

Unless you’re able to take public transportation or carpool with a friend, you’ll probably want a set of wheels to use throughout the process. Check to see if your insurance company offers a rental, or try to find an auto body shop that offers courtesy vehicles. Be aware that repairs can take longer than expected, so find out the details on the duration of a rental or loaner.

7. Be picky about your paint 

Matching paint colors is one area where auto body shops often fail. It’s easy to see why, since your existing paint will have faded over time. Inspect the paint carefully in bright light before you accept your car. They may need to do additional work to get a perfect match.

8. Go over the invoice carefully 

Make sure that anything on the final bill was also included in the estimate, and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Also, if they were supposed to replace parts in your car, ask for the old parts just to make sure they really were replaced.

Of course, the best way to ensure your car gets the best care is a good insurance policy. Get your fast, free quote from Esurance today.

DIY hacks | For your car


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.