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Getting Steered in the Right Direction

By Darryl McPherson

After your car is repaired, it should be impossible to detect that it was ever in an accident.
In the event that your automobile may require body work, there is no better
choice than Fred's Collision.

Here's a story with some advice that I hope you will never need to follow.

The topic is how to handle repairs on your car in the event of a collision, particularly if the insurance company is paying for the repairs.

First: You - not your insurance company – get to choose who you want fixing your car. By choosing wisely, in addition to good service, you may find yourself with more money left in your wallet too.

Unknown to many motorists is that insurance companies may attempt to "steer" customers with a collision claim to a particular auto repair shop, or suggest that they choose from a list of "preferred" shops.

While insurance companies probably won't tell their customers that they must pick from the preferred list, they oftentimes imply that they should. These may be perfectly reputable shops that provide outstanding service to their customers. But to avoid the possibility that there might be more than just the appearance of impropriety, you are better off selecting your own and putting together your own references.

State law, in fact, provides that an insurance company cannot require a person use a particular collision shop.

But, since many do not know this, they simply go along with the insurance company's recommendations.

A "preferred dealer" is just a suggestion and nothing more.

There are good reasons why insurance companies have "preferred" shops. But all of them are for their convenience, not yours.

That is not to say that the preferred company can never be the best choice.

Indeed, you should start by getting an estimate from one or more of the shops on the insurance company's preferred list.

Then, with that in hand, go to a company that is not on the preferred list.

If you want a reliable company that offers superior service that is not on the list, my suggestion is to go to Fred's Collision in Niagara Falls on 56th St.

With 45 years in the business, you cannot go wrong. The owners, Fred and his son Bob Vitagliano, are dedicated craftsmen when it comes to taking care of cars.

They know how the referral practice of insurance companies works.

Frankly speaking, chances are Fred's' estimate will be lower than the "preferred" shop.

Here's how this helps you and not the insurance company.

Submit the higher bid from the "preferred" company to the insurance company. After all, they cannot dispute the amount, because they referred the shop in the first place.

After the claim is approved, go to Fred's and have the work done there at the lower price.

The savings are usually enough that you will save the cost of the deductible. Sometimes more.

This is perfectly legal since you are insured for the damages, less the deductible. If the insurance company's preferred shop estimates the damages, then that is what the insurance company must pay you.

There is nothing that the insurance company can do to prevent you from getting a better deal. In fact, they cannot even require you to make the repairs. You could pocket the check and leave the car unfixed.

But if you choose to repair your car and there is a difference between the preferred shop and, say, Fred's, you would be wise to take the check directly from the insurance company, then go to Fred's for their quality service and savings.

But, if it is easier for you, Fred's works directly with the insurance company too and will bill them and you can still save the deductible.

Fred's owners say that in most instances they will not charge customers the deductible.

"It comes right out of our profit," says Bob Vitagliano. "Because we own our business and our building, we can afford to do that. We try to help our local customers if they've been in an accident. After all, they've paid their insurance premiums, they shouldn't be double penalized."

Now do not think any of this is shady or illegal. Everything is open and fully disclosed. And don't think because you didn't choose the insurance company's choice, that the insurance company will give you a hassle. A reliable, independent collision shop like Fred's works with every insurance company to make sure you have a hassle-free claim experience.

Even if you get the check directly from the insurance company and pay Fred's yourself, Fred's will still arrange for the adjuster to inspect the work so that your collision insurance coverage will resume after your vehicle is repaired.

Why go to Fred's?

Well for one thing, over more than four decades, there has never been a single lawsuit against them, a testament that they treat their customers right.

"Yeah, we must be doing something right," Fred Vitagliano says proudly.

Fred's offers an array of services, such as major collision work on all makes and models, mirror and bumper repair, custom and antique restorations, and free towing on major collision repairs.

Whether your vehicle has sustained major auto body damage or just been the victim of a nasty scratch, Fred's has the equipment and the knowledge to return it to pre-accident condition.

They always offer free estimates and free advice!

If you need a rental car, they can help with that too.

And at the end of the day, not only is the work exceptional (ask any of their customers) but the price is fair, much fairer most times than the "preferred" companies that scratch the backs of insurance companies when they should be taking care of the customer first.

For solid, honest repair work that is 100 percent guaranteed, try stopping a Fred's Collision, at 530 56th Street, Niagara Falls, NY or call them at 283-0104.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Mar19 , 2013