What is Betterment? [A Collision Repair Industry Term Explained]

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you understand how stressful this occurrence can be. Between personal well-being, potential medical expenses and everything in between, a car accident can really send you for a loop. And, during all of that, there’s the issue of your auto body repairs.

Sure, your auto insurance is in place in order to assist you with those repair fees; but unfortunately, most companies aren’t going to pay for all repair costs. Why? Because of betterment.

So, what is Betterment?

Let’s say your vehicle has 50,000 miles on it and tires that are 60% worn when you get into an accident. You severely damage the engine and two tires; these items must be replaced.

Most insurance companies are only willing to pay the cost of replacing your engine and tires with an engine and tires that are of the same worth as your pre-wrecked vehicle. But, where will you find an engine with 50,000 miles on it and tires that are 60% worn?

Chances are slim to none that you will find those parts. Even if you did, would you really want them? So, a new engine and a new set of tires will likely be used. Great! The insurance company will cover it, you think, right?

Not so. The insurance company is only going to pay out an amount that is equal to the value of the parts on your pre-wrecked vehicle. Therefore, you are responsible for the extra cost of your new tires and engine.

Why is that? Because by putting new parts onto your vehicle, you are hence making it “better” than its pre-wreck state, hence the term “betterment.”

How Do Insurance Companies Justify This?

Insurance companies claim that if they need to replace parts of your car then it is making your car better than it was. Since you would eventually need to replace parts anyway, if they’re damaged in an accident, you should have to pay part of the cost.

Certain insurance companies no longer implement betterment charges, however, you should consult with your insurance agent to see what side of the line your company falls on.

Can I Challenge the Betterment Clause?

While it may seem ridiculous and unfair, it’s legal and likely written into your insurance contract. Basically, insurance companies feel that it’s not their responsibility to supply you with new and better parts for your vehicle. Having written it into their terms and conditions, they will win if you challenge them on it.

Avoid Requesting Upgrades

One thing to avoid is specifically requesting upgraded parts during the repairs. If your alternator is destroyed in an accident, requesting a higher power producing replacement that costs more than the original will likely not be covered because you requested it.

Depending on the insurance company, they may allow for you to pay for the parts while they cover the labor if it doesn’t cost more in time than the original parts would have.

How Does Betterment Affect Auto Body Repairs?

If you did not cause the accident, some insurance companies may make exceptions to betterment charges. The insurance company of the person who caused the wreck may be held responsible for your deductible as well as the betterment charges.

It’s important to remember that betterment charges are beyond the control of the auto body shop. Please consult directly with your insurance agent regarding your policy’s betterment clause.

An Auto Body Shop That’s Prepared to Answer Your Questions

“We deal with hundreds of claims and situations per week and have been for 91 years. Understanding everything is not something that you need to fully comprehend if you know the shop you use is trustworthy. We are also happy top explain things and our blogs are designed to help.” Brian Roach, Business & Marketing Director

Because betterment charges affect our industry, our staff is prepared to answer basic questions about this clause. Please feel free to contact the friendly staff at Alexander Body & Fender today by calling (330) 376-8105 or contact us online! For more information on your specific policy, we encourage you to contact your insurance agent. Knowing your specific policy will prepare you for when you need to use it.

Jon Roach

Jon Roach is a graduate of Kenmore High School, class of 1987. Jon began at Alexander’s in 1989, with a part time job in the detail department while attending the University of Akron, majoring in Business Management. Jon fell in love cars and withdrew from college after a year and a half, after deciding to commit all of his energy into learning about the auto body field. Jon continued to challenge himself in order to fine tune his craft, and has restored numerous classic cars, rrucks, Jeeps and custom motorcycles. In 2005, Jon purchased the business from the previous owners. In 2016, Jon brought in his cousin, Brian Roach to help take Alexander’s to the next level. Jon is married to his beautiful wife Mary and has 5 children, Avery, Aidan, Nick, Peter and Stevie Lynn. Jon has lived in Green, Ohio since 2002 and his family are members of Maranatha Bible Church.

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