2024 Guide: Is It Best to Use Insurance Money for DIY Auto Repairs?

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Written By kevin

A financial strategist with a knack for demystifying taxes and insurance, Kevin distills complex concepts into actionable advice.

Getting into a car accident is stressful enough without having to deal with the repairs afterwards. If the damage to your vehicle is relatively minor, you may be tempted to use the insurance money to fix it yourself rather than take it to an auto body shop. But is DIYing repairs actually the best option when insurance money is on the line? This comprehensive guide examines that question in detail.

How Insurance Claims and Payouts Work

When you file an insurance claim after an accident, the first step is working with the claims adjuster to assess and verify the damage. They will determine the estimated cost of repairs and whether your policy covers paying out for those repairs.

If you own the vehicle outright with no outstanding loan or lease payments, you typically have full freedom on how to use the money from the insurance payout. However, if you still owe money on the car through a lender, restrictions may apply on how the money can be used.

In most cases, the insurance company will issue a check for the claim directly to you or the repair facility. But for vehicles with a lien, the check may be issued jointly to you and the lien holder, requiring consent from both parties on how the funds are used.

Fixing Your Own Car: What You Need to Know

While DIY repairs may seem like an easy way to pocket some extra cash, there are good reasons why professional auto body shops remain the norm for insurance-related repairs.

Voided Guarantees and Warranties

Taking on repairs yourself rather than through approved shops often voids manufacturer guarantees or extended warranty protections. You lose that safety net if your amateur work leads to bigger issues down the road.

Risk Without Expert Skills

Unless you have professional mechanic experience, major repairs pose major risks. Without proper training, you may worsen issues or cause additional damage.

Inferior Parts and Resources

Professional auto shops have high-quality parts suppliers and advanced tools for seamless repairs. DIY repairs rely on you tracking down your own parts and equipment while lacking specialized diagnostic tools.

The Risks of Not Repairing Your Car

Choosing not to repair accident damage or performing subpar repairs yourself can negatively impact your car and finances over time:

  • Future Claims Denied: Insurers may deny future claims if previous damage left unaddressed leads to further deterioration.
  • Lost Resale Value: Visible damage or mechanical issues from improper repairs greatly hurt resale value.

Balancing Cost Savings With Long-Term Quality

  • Short-Term Savings: While DIY repairs may cost less upfront, you risk expensive complications down the road if something goes wrong.
  • Better Long-Term Outlook: Professional repairs ensure quality, reliability, and peace of mind across the car’s lifespan.

Key Decision Factors to Consider

Determine if DIY repairs make sense by weighing factors like:

  • Your mechanical skill level
  • The repair complexity and safety risks
  • Your budget and ability to handle future costs if repairs fail

Consulting a trusted mechanic before making a decision can provide valuable input. They can assess if DIY repairs are advisable or inadvisable for your situation.

Additional Considerations

  • Inform your insurer: Disclose any DIY repairs to ensure accurate claim records and smooth processing for future claims.
  • Budget accordingly: Set aside dedicated funds for maintenance and repairs instead of relying solely on insurance for issues.


Carefully weigh the risks and potential benefits before using insurance money for DIY repairs. While it may save money upfront, it can seriously backfire long-term if repairs are subpar. For optimal outcomes, focus on quality, safety, and sustainability over cost savings alone. Trusted mechanics can provide guidance to inform your decision.

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