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What if my car is not fixed properly after an insurance claim?

If damages were not repaired correctly after an accident you can request a post-repair inspection, but you may need to contact your car insurance company or an attorney if the situation isn’t resolved.

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By

Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Edited byAnna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Published|4 min read

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Your car insurance company is required to restore your car to its pre-accident condition when you file a claim, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. Unfortunately, sometimes a repair shop does a mediocre job repairing the damage to your car, or cuts corners to save money. 

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In many cases, you’ll know within a few days of driving your car home whether or not the work was done correctly. If you find yourself in a situation where you think your car might not have been properly repaired, there are steps you can take to fix the problem.

Key takeaways

  • If your car wasn’t repaired correctly after a claim, you can take it back to your mechanic (or to a new one) for a post-repair inspection.

  • If the repair was done poorly, you may need to reach out to your car insurance company or an attorney for further assistance.

  • The best way to know if your body shop did the work correctly is to use a body shop you trust, listen for unusual sounds while driving, and review pictures from before and after the repairs.

What to do if your car is not fixed properly after an insurance claim

Say you were in an accident that damaged your car, you went through the car insurance claims process, and you just picked up your car after a week in the repair shop — but on the drive home your check engine light comes on, or you hear a rattling sound.

There are steps you can take to have shoddy repair work redone, but if you’ve identified a problem in the repair work after an accident and the body shop refuses to fix their mistake, you may need to file a formal complaint to have the damage properly fixed.

Schedule a post-repair inspection

If you think your car wasn’t fixed properly after an accident, you can usually take it back to the repair shop for a post-repair inspection. If you don’t think the repair shop will be honest with you or you think they might not identify the damage correctly, you can reach out to a different mechanic for a consultation.

 A thorough inspection should reveal any issues, which should still be covered by insurance if they’re from the same incident as the original claim.

Contact your car insurance company

Your next step in this situation should be to reach out to your car insurance company. Since they are the ones paying for the repair, it is in their best interest to make sure things are fixed properly and that the claim can be resolved without issue.

Your insurance company may have access to resources you don’t, like the ability to retract a payment or the threat of dropping the body shop from their list of pre-approved service providers, that could encourage the body shop to correct their mistake. 

Contact an attorney

If your insurance company is unable to help, you can reach out to an attorney for advice about the laws in your state. If the remaining damage is significant enough, you could potentially file a complaint against the repair company in court.

Many attorneys offer a free consultation, so you can talk to a legal professional about the situation and get their expert advice.

How do I know if my body shop did the job correctly?

If you aren’t a mechanic yourself, it can be difficult to know whether or not a repair was done correctly. But there are some steps you can take to verify your car was properly repaired after an accident, including:

1. Using a body shop you trust

If possible, take your car to a mechanic you trust for any necessary repairs. When dealing with serious damage after an accident, knowing you have a talented, qualified repair shop that stands by their work provides peace of mind.

Also, a good, trustworthy body shop will make additional repairs until the job is done right. Knowing that your mechanic is on your side can help take a lot of the stress out of filing a car insurance claim.

2. Listen for unusual sounds

Sound is a good signal that everything in your car is running smoothly — or not, depending on the situation. You know what sounds your car should and shouldn’t make in the course of day-to-day use, so if you feel like something doesn’t sound right after a repair, the odds are good that there’s some work that still needs to be done.

Also, many problems that cause strange sounds also create vibrations, so if something doesn’t “feel” right, you may need additional repairs.

Your insurance company is paying for the car repairs (and you might be responsible for your deductible, depending on the situation) so it is important that they are done correctly. If something doesn’t sound right, make sure to have the noise diagnosed and repaired.

→ Learn about how to choose a car insurance deductible

3. Review pictures

From an insurance standpoint, it is a good idea to regularly take pictures of your car to verify the condition before an accident. It can be helpful to have pre-accident pictures of your car if you need proof that your car wasn’t fixed properly after a car insurance claim.

But even if you didn’t take pictures of your car before it was damaged, you should still take pictures of any damage caused by an accident. It can provide necessary information to your claims adjuster and your insurance company when processing your claim, as well as providing proof if your vehicle was not repaired properly.

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Frequently asked questions

What happens if a mechanic doesn't fix the problem?

You can always choose to take your vehicle to another mechanic you trust and get a diagnostic test done. You may or may not pay a diagnostic fee, but they can tell you if the work was done properly or if you need additional repairs.

Can you just keep cash from a car insurance payout and not fix your car?

Once you get a payment from the insurance company the money is usually yours to do with as you please. But if you choose not to repair your car, that could leave you with a vehicle that isn’t safe to drive and has a lower value later on if you decide to sell it.

How long should I expect my car to be in the body shop?

Most of the time, small car repairs can be done in one or two days, while larger repairs can take up to two weeks or more. But there are a number of factors that can impact how long it takes to fix your car; car parts have been in short supply since the pandemic, which means it could take significantly longer to fix your car, even for small repairs.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Editor

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz

Senior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

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Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

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