How to Get OEM Parts for an Insurance Claim

Mechanic working on a car in a garage using OEM parts.
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Joe Raedle / Getty Images

If you’re in an accident and have damage that needs to be repaired. or a part that needs to be replaced, you may assume that the body shop you choose will order a shiny new part straight from the manufacturer of your vehicle before making the repairs. But if you’re filing an insurance claim or looking to save money, that is unlikely to be the case.

Lots of people prefer original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts over aftermarket parts; OEM parts seem to fit a little better, and you have the peace of mind that any replacements or additions to your vehicle will be made with parts right from the manufacturer. The only problem is that most insurance carriers only cover the use of aftermarket parts and not OEM parts. Do not assume that your car insurance coverage automatically covers OEM parts, because most likely it does not.

If you’re set on OEM parts, here are a few ways to try and make sure they’re covered by your car insurance claim.

Key Takeaways

  • You can shop for car insurance that allows you to request OEM parts for repairs.
  • If you have an older car or a discontinued model, OEM parts might not be available, even if your insurance covers them.
  • If your auto insurance doesn't cover OEM parts, you can still have them used for repairs as long as you pay for the difference in price out-of-pocket.
  • Insurers prefer aftermarket parts in order to keep costs down, while body shops prefer OEM parts so they can make more of a profit on repairs.

Request OEM Parts in Advance

If OEM parts are non-negotiable to you, you will need to look for a car insurance carrier that covers OEM parts. Some insurance carriers do not offer them at all. When you are shopping for car insurance, make OEM parts one of your top questions for the insurance agent.

Even if an insurance carrier offers coverage for OEM parts, they are probably not automatic on a standard policy. You will need to request the coverage and most likely pay an additional fee to get it. OEM parts are easier to obtain for newer vehicles, and it could be impossible to get them for older vehicles.

Not All Parts Can Be Replaced With OEM Parts

Aging vehicles or discontinued models might not have OEM parts available. Aftermarket and used parts are sometimes the only options for a repair or addition; there is only so much that a body shop and an insurance company can do about it, so you must determine whether you want OEM coverage. Ask a body shop about the availability of OEM parts for your vehicle if you think they might not be available.

What if My Insurance Carrier Does Not Cover OEM Parts?

Sometimes OEM parts are just not an option covered by insurance. That does not mean you have to go with aftermarket parts. If OEM means everything to you, you can pay the difference between the price of the two options. Your insurance will cover the cost of the aftermarket parts, and you can tell the body shop that you want OEM parts. You will be responsible for covering the difference in cost between the aftermarket parts and the OEM parts. The cost could add up quickly, so make certain you will be happier knowing the parts are straight from your car manufacturer.

Why Don't Insurance Carriers Always Use OEM Parts?

It is important to remember that insurance carriers use aftermarket parts to help keep insurance rates affordable for everyone. If insurance companies only covered OEM parts, and body shops used them all the time, car insurance would cost a whole lot more, not to mention the tremendous waste that would be created if one could only use a car part once! If you did not have any physical damage coverage on your vehicle and had to repair it on your own, would you pay the extra cost for OEM parts? Or would you use the cheaper parts, which are extremely similar?

Body Shops Love OEM Parts

Body shops love OEM parts and often make car owners nervous about any other type of part. Why wouldn't they love them though? They make more profit, the parts are generally new and shiny, and they fit a little more smoothly. The auto shop also makes more money from the sale of each one than it does from an aftermarket part.

After an accident, insurance carriers are supposed to do what they can to get your car back to its original condition. Most average drivers cannot tell the difference between an aftermarket part and an OEM part. If you prefer OEM, plan on paying a little bit more for the coverage. Speak with a reputable insurance agent to find out how much it will cost you to help determine whether the cost is worth the coverage.

Fix Your Perspective

Sometimes, fighting for OEM parts is just not worth it for your wallet or your vehicle. If your insurance policy does not cover OEM parts, it’s worth trying to adjust your attitude before you fight for the more expensive option. If you want OEM parts, ask yourself why. Is it because you think they are the only safe option? Because your pride would be hurt by having aftermarket parts? Talk to some trusted experts on auto repair before you insist that only OEM parts will do. Nine times out of ten, it’s not worth it to pay more for a part that won’t be that much better anyway.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you tell OEM parts from aftermarket parts?

You can't necessarily tell the difference between OEM and aftermarket parts by looking at them, but you'll definitely know the difference by comparing prices. Aftermarket parts are usually significantly cheaper, and their quality can vary significantly. If you get your work done at the dealer for your car's make, you can be confident all parts used will be OEM. At another mechanic, though, you should be sure to clarify what type of parts they use.

Where can you buy OEM parts?

You can buy OEM parts through your car's dealer as well as online or in a variety of mechanics and auto parts stores. Be sure to provide the year, make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN) for your car in order to ensure that you will get OEM parts that match your vehicle.

Which aftermarket parts void the warranty on your car?

A vehicle dealer cannot void your warranty simply because you opted for aftermarket parts in your repairs. Dealers are required by law to demonstrate that a specific aftermarket part actually caused problems before they can deny any warranty coverage.