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If your car ends up in the shop for repairs, your insurance policy will dictate the type of replacement parts that are covered. Your policy may cover original equipment manufacturer (OEM), aftermarket or recycled parts, and you may be responsible for repair costs beyond your deductible if certain parts are used.
While there may not be much wiggle room regarding what's covered by auto insurance policies, there are some agreements you may come to with your insurer to get the parts you want at a fair price.
How Do Car Insurance Companies Decide Which Parts to Cover?
The decision to use aftermarket parts doesn't typically arise during the repair estimate process. In fact, the auto insurance company likely decided what parts they were willing to cover when writing your policy.
If you go over the details of your coverage, you'll see the stipulations for the types of parts your policy covers. Your policy may cover one or more of the following types of parts:
- OEM replacement parts: These come from the manufacturer that produced your car in the first place. If you need a new headlamp for your Toyota Corolla, an OEM part would come from Toyota rather than a third-party aftermarket manufacturer. OEM parts may or may not be better in quality than aftermarket or recycled parts, but they'll be at least equal in quality to the parts that were already on your vehicle. Often, the use of OEM parts won't be guaranteed unless you purchased a specific OEM endorsement.
- Aftermarket parts: These are parts made by third-party manufacturers. These may vary in quality, and some are even better than OEM parts. Insurance companies often opt for aftermarket parts to save money. Allowing the insurance company to use aftermarket parts and keep your claim cost low may help prevent a premium increase.
- Recycled parts: Recycled parts are taken off other vehicles and may be ideal if you have an older vehicle that has hard-to-find parts. Recycled parts are also a good option if you're looking to save money.
How Can You Get Your Auto Insurance Company to Cover OEM Parts?
If your insurance policy does not require that OEM parts are used, it's unlikely you'll be able to get your insurance company to cover them.
Typically you would need to have an OEM endorsement to guarantee that OEM parts are used in repairs. An OEM endorsement is an extra feature on your car insurance that makes an agreement with your insurance to choose OEM parts first when they are available.
But it may also be worth asking yourself if it's worth the fight to avoid aftermarket parts. Aftermarket parts are held to similar standards as OEM and some states have laws that dictate aftermarket parts can only be used if they're shown to be of equal quality. Insurance companies use aftermarket parts to keep costs down, which can be reflected in the low cost of your policy premiums.
What if a Repair Shop Uses Better-Than-You've-Got Parts?
Another sticking point for vehicle owners trying to get their insurance to pay for replacement parts is something called betterment.
If your battery is damaged in an accident to the point that it must be replaced, your insurance may only pay the amount your battery was worth pre-crash based on its age. Because they will replace it with a new battery, you'll be responsible for the difference in price. This may be a surprise for many vehicle owners who expect repairs beyond the deductible to be fully covered.
Similarly, you'll have trouble getting your insurance to pay for anything that would be considered an update. For instance, if you requested a replacement exhaust pipe that's better than the one you already had, your insurer will more than likely say "No." You may, however, be able to come to a compromise and have your insurance pay for the labor to install upgraded parts for similar installation processes if you pay for the part.
The Bottom Line
Thinking about updating your insurance policy to include OEM parts? You may need to swap to another insurance provider to get the best deal. But with Experian's auto insurance comparison tool, you can quickly get quotes from over 40 top auto insurance providers.
Just provide some info about your current policy and wait for results. If you find a better policy, Experian will help you cancel your old policy, swap to your new one and even request a partial refund.