I received a call from a client last year. She’d been in an accident and like most people I’ve worked with, she wanted to know what to do. After I confirmed she was not physically hurt, we reviewed what had happened, provided her with her car insurance policy number and the phone number for claims, then outlined a plan on how to best proceed. She drives a Lexus RX series so she had the car delivered to the shop of her choice which she gets to do according to Texas state law.
Everything was straight forward until she called me the following week. The claims adjuster had looked at the car, worked up the estimate for the repairs, and then reviewed it with her. What came next was a surprise. The fender that was damaged would be replaced with a third party fender, not a Lexus fender. I called the adjuster and discussed it with her only to find out the policy specified that branded parts for any vehicle involved in an accident could be replaced with third party parts as long as they were made to the same specifications as the original parts.
Over the past few years most carriers have moved away from replacing auto parts made by the original vehicle manufacturer. In other words if you needed to replace a fender on a Ford Taurus, Lexus RX, Honda Accord, or Toyota Prius, it’s highly likely the fender will be replaced with one made by a third party. There are a couple of reasons for insurance companies adopting this practice:
- It saves money
- Availability of original equipment parts
In many cases, a third party part will cost less than one made by the car manufacturer. In my client’s case, the difference between the third party fender and a Lexus fender was $75. She could elect to go with the part as specified by her policy, or she could pay the difference and have the Lexus fender installed. My client chose to pay the extra money for the Lexus fender.
New models and body styles are being introduced at an increasing rate for all vehicle manufacturers. As the styles rapidly change, many manufacturers stop making parts for the older model(s) once the new model is released. When that happens, an original equipment fender, bumper, hood, etc. may not be available necessitating the use of a third party part when an older vehicle becomes damaged in an accident.
Ultimately, the question many people may wonder is whether they have to accept a third party part? The answer is no, there are two options that policy holders may take. They can do as my client did and pay the difference between the third party part and the manufacturer’s part. The other option is to select an option, if it’s available, for the policy that specifies original equipment manufactured parts must be used in a repair claim. Adding this option ends up costing a few dollars more a month, but depending on the vehicle you drive and your expectations, that may be entirely worthwhile.
What part would you want for your vehicle and which option would you take? Share your thoughts, questions, and comments with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook and Google + pages. I’d love to hear from you!