What are direct repair programs and generic auto parts?

Auto insurance Q&A

Auto insurance is a highly competitive business. 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.  When a car is damaged, an auto repair shop may provide a choice between original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and generic replacement parts. When navigating the claims process, it is important to understand the different options, and what choices are available to you under your policy. These frequently asked consumer questions can help guide you through the process.

 

Q. What are Direct Repair Programs? 

A. A Direct Repair Program (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 the program are carefully vetted by insurers to ensure they provide quality repairs and service to policyholders. Insurers also offer customers a lifetime guarantee on workmanship decides 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. If their insurance company offers a direct repair program, they do not have to use one of their auto repair programs. 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, which sell them under their own name; and generic, or aftermarket, crash parts. Generic parts are frequently produced in the same factory as the OEM parts, but are also produced by independent manufacturers. They are generally limited to the cosmetic parts of the car that form the outside “skin” frequently damaged in an auto crash such as fenders, hoods and door panels.

 

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 their quality 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.

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