Many people contact my office to ask whether they can force the insurance company paying for the repair of their vehicle to use OEM parts after a collision. My answer is always, it depends. It depends which insurance company is making the repairs, whether you have the right coverage, and whether you feel it is necessary to use original parts, even if that means an extra expense on you.
What are OEM Parts Anyway?
OEM parts, or original equipment manufacturer parts are the ideal type of part to use when repairing your vehicle because you can guarantee everything will match. The parts were literally made by the original manufacturer of your vehicle. They were subjected to the same rigorous crash testing as your car. They look just right when installed. But, many insurance companies will only cover the cost of aftermarket or non-OEM parts when repairing vehicles because OEM parts are really expensive.
When you ask manufacturers of non-OEM (aftermarket) parts, they claim the functional differences between their products and OEM parts are negligible. They are substantially cheaper to purchase and install, so lots of people prefer them. However, others claim they do not always fit as well as OEM parts and can decrease the resale value of your vehicle.
Keep in mind some warranties provided by manufacturers require the use of OEM parts, meaning use of aftermarket parts would void your warranty. In those instances, it may be worth it to you to pay for the difference in price to protect your warranty.
If you plan to use non-OEM parts, make sure they have been approved by the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) and are safe for use.
Does Property Damage Coverage Pay for the Use of OEM Parts?
The at-fault party's Property Damage coverage is only required to provide parts "of like kind and quality", not necessarily OEM parts. As long as the insurance company informs you of the plans to use non-OEM parts in the written estimate for repairs and includes the following information in type 10 bold faced font, they are permitted to do so:
THIS ESTIMATE HAS BEEN PREPARED BASED ON THE USE OF CRASH PARTS SUPPLIED BY A SOURCE OTHER THAN THE MANUFACTURER OF YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE. THE AFTERMARKET CRASH PARTS USED IN THE PREPARATION OF THIS ESTIMATE ARE WARRANTED BY THE MANUFACTURER OR DISTRIBUTOR OF SUCH PARTS RATHER THAN THE MANUFACTURER OF YOUR VEHICLE.
That being said, it never hurts to ask. Some higher-end insurance companies make it a practice to only use OEM parts in their repairs. You can even argue that OEM parts are the only parts that are "of like kind and quality" if you have a newer vehicle, but many courts nationwide have ruled that aftermarket parts fit the bill “of like kind and quality”.
Does My Auto Insurance Cover OEM Parts?
You may have purchased Collision coverage and OEM coverage on your own auto insurance policy. If you did, I recommend you have your vehicle repaired through your own Collision coverage so you can ensure OEM parts are used on your vehicle where possible. I reiterate, you can require your own insurance company to use OEM parts, but only if you purchased OEM coverage. The downside, of course, is that you will be required to pay your Collision deductible up front, which your insurance company will return to you after they are reimbursed by the other party's insurance company.
If you do not have Collision coverage and you would prefer OEM parts on your vehicle, you can pay for the difference in price between OEM and aftermarket parts. The insurance company will not reimburse you for the full value of those parts, even if their insured was 100% at fault for the collision.
Believe it or not, the repair of your vehicle is the simplest component of a car crash. If you need assistance with an injury claim moving forward, contact an attorney to protect your rights. Consultations with our legal team are always free.