Two-party check from insurance co: When do I give it to the repair shop?
June 5, 2014 4:24 AM   Subscribe

I got into an accident last week, and my insurance company is mailing me a two-party claim payment check (for ~$6000) to give to the repair shop. I'm wondering when exactly I hand over the check.

The insurance adjuster told me to give the shop the check (and my deductible) when picking up the car. However, the shop called the next day and made it seem like I should give them the check as soon as I get it (and the deductible when picking up the car). I was still sleepy when they called, so I didn't think to ask to clarify.

So I'm left wondering what the standard procedure is here. Does it make any difference? Are both ways common, or did I just misunderstand? (Or might they rip me off somehow if I hand over the check before all the work is done?)

In case it makes a difference, this is in New York state, and the repair shop seems to be a rather small operation, not a large collision shop type of place.

posted by Maladroid to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Personally, unless this is a shop that you know and trust due to past experience with them, I would hold that check until you pick up the car, it's the only leverage you have.
posted by HuronBob at 4:53 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let me add that, in all my experience with auto body repairs I have NEVER paid in advance, I have ALWAYS paid when the job was complete. If they are so cash strapped that they can't afford to purchase the parts they need, that's a problem. THEIR leverage is that you don't get the car back until you've paid.
posted by HuronBob at 4:54 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you've inspected the repair, are 100% satisfied with it, and are 2 minutes away from driving your car away from the body shop.

I go to the dealer and use their body shop because they have a relationship with the insurance company. I only pay my share (or nothing if it's the other guy's fault) when I pick up the car.

The shop can ask for whatever they want, but you don't have to pay a dime until you approve the work.

Also, if they don't like it, take the car elsewhere.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:08 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The times I've gotten insurance checks, I've either given that check to the shop when I dropped off the vehicle or else the insurance company sent it directly to the shop; then I've paid the deductible when I picked up the car.
posted by easily confused at 5:19 AM on June 5, 2014

You pay for work when it is done.
posted by edgeways at 5:35 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Call the the person handling your claim from the insurance company and ask him.
posted by TedW at 5:48 AM on June 5, 2014

Or to clarify, let him know what the shop is asking so that he can help back you up on holding on to it if need be. Shops give a lot more weight to what insurers say because while the average person uses a body shop infrequently (ideally not at all), the insurance companies have a steady stream of customers they can steer toward or away from a given merchant.
posted by TedW at 5:50 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I worked in a garage (albeit not a body shop) and no one ever paid in advance, nor did we ever ask anyone. Honestly if the guy had any kind of attitude while talking to you, and it's at all possible, I'd go somewhere else. This smells funny to me.
posted by desjardins at 6:32 AM on June 5, 2014

Another thing, if your wreck involved anything near the engine, drive it around the block to confirm that the repair didn't mess up something. Once, Husbunny got rear-ended, and the body shop did something funky to the rear hatch. It caused the dome light not to turn off when closed, so they turned off the light (HONDA DEALER!) It caused a slow drain that resulted in the battery being completely depleted over a weekend, because Husbunny HATES to drive and his vehicle would sit in the driveway. A normal person may never have known.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:48 AM on June 5, 2014

Thank you, everyone.

Calling the insurance adjuster for advice wasn't very helpful. She implied it was better to wait; however, she also said that some places have different policies and that it really varies from place to place. I have to go to the shop to sign off on the work order tomorrow, so I'll just see what happens then.
posted by Maladroid at 7:59 PM on June 5, 2014

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