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Success with insurance (USAA) and Tesla authorized body shops?


@unplggdd on Instagram
Nov 17, 2014
West Palm Beach, FL
I have USAA and had an issue when my Range Rover needed minor body work. USAA authorized shops were either Dodge or Caliber Collision (basically a MAACO). I did not think those were up to the task of doing the work at a level equal to that of the vehicle but no matter how much arguing I did I made little to no progress. I eventually had to come out of pocket for the deductible (obviously) and then the repair bill above and beyond the estimate that the USAA shop provided. This was due to the higher labor rate at the chosen shop.

So my question is has anyone had a similar situation with a Tesla repair? I know there are only a few Tesla certified shops so I am guessing that is who you have to have repair your car and insurance will have to pay their hourly rate. Is this correct? Has anyone been told that they had to go to a non Tesla shop for repairs. I am not talking about major accident repair. Just some minor body work that may require the remove of a panel. Nothing structural. I know the work can technically be done by any decent body shop but I'd prefer to only have it done by a Tesla shop.

Just wondering what experiences people have had. The local authorized Tesla body shop is not on the list of approved shops for USAA so I was concerned.
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I have Progressive, who had zero argument when I chose my preferred body shop, Tesla certified and an exotic car specialist. In the end I just had to replace the protective film, so insurance did not apply anyway. BTW, they were very quick to establish that the other driver was at fault.


Apr 8, 2015
I have a new hatred for USAA. I'm sure they are great for their customers, but when someone rear ended my wife last month, and the responsible party had USAA, they have been the biggest pain in the *** to work with. My head wants to explode. And the saga isn't over yet.

Sorry, back on topic. I've never used my insurance for an at-fault accident, but the times when someone hit me, the guilty parties insurance company had their "in network shops" and "preferred shops" and I just told them "no, thanks I have a shop" took it to the shop, and the shop got full compensation. Again, it might be different if you're filling a claim against your own policy.


@unplggdd on Instagram
Nov 17, 2014
West Palm Beach, FL
Yeah. You always have the right to get it repaired wherever you want. The catch is that if it's not a preferred shop there's no guarantee they will adjust their rates to what USAA will pay. Therefore, you'll have to pay out of pocket for the difference. That's the problem with having big corporate insurance. They make shops agree to below market rates in order to become a preferred shop.

I met with the shop (Fantastic Finishes - West Palm Beach) and he reassured me that they've worked w USAA on Tesla repairs and they've paid they're rates.
Just an FYI on how things are going in Michigan when you have USAA as your insurance. Next week I will make my 2nd trip driving 3 hrs each way for USAA to "look at the small damage" on my S before they will approve the repair bill . Apparently the claim sat on the adjusters desk for 15 days while they debated how to handle a Tesla repair. The outcome was the adjuster needs to see the car at the body shop to explain to the shop and me what they are willing to pay for. So glad I am the second generation of a USAA family. You have to really want a Tesla to live in Michigan where support is hard to come by.
I had no issue. I was fortunate in that there was a USAA approved shop that also is a Tesla approved Body shop. Took the car there. They took pictures, generated estimate and sent it in to USAA (who accepted it) and then performed the repairs.

I 30 years as a USAA member I have NEVER had a single issue getting a claim processed, approved or paid. That includes a 26,000 repair when our basement flooded out due to a failed sump pump (they covered everything but the cost of the sump pump and the deductible) and two accidents my wife had (both repairs exceeding 8,000) and my Tesla when I was rear-ended (total repair cost exceeded 10,000.
So far I have had no issues with Progressive. By law in Texas the choice of bodyshop lies with the vehicle owner, but I was immediately directed to what I believe is the ONLY Tesla certified shop here in Austin. I met with the Progressive adjuster, very nice guy and admittedly a Model S fan, he immediately approved increased labor rates and gave his best estimate which he said would likely be far less than the body shop estimate. I refused a cash settlement offer, and Progressive approved the body shop's quote of nearly twice theirs. I also have a recorded conversation with Progressive assuring me that this claim will not affect my rates. This accident was between myself and a retaining wall in my driveway - somehow I managed to hit a corner undetected by the front right quarter panel sensor only 5" away...

Something less talked about than insurance rates is the time it takes to repair. Items to replace the passenger door have been on order for over a month from Tesla, and my initial repair date had to be cancelled. I am now getting status emails direct from Tesla regarding these items.

The sense I get is that like the owners, the insurance companies have little choice as to where and how to fix these cars in some locations. If there are this few choices in Austin, where you can't swing a dead cat without setting off someone's Sentry alarm, what must it be like in less connected areas?
I have USAA and thankfully very few claims needed over decades of service from them. Recently, however, my Model S was hit in a parking lot (hit and run actually, but caught on dashcam). I found USAA to be a pleasure to work with. I live in a fairly remote area and had no local shop to take the car to for an estimate. USAA had me do a funky remote online estimate by sending pictures. I knew it was going to be poor when I got an estimate of only $800. I chose to take the car to a certified Tesla repair shop over 5 hours away. They directly communicated with USAA and I was informed but not bothered by any direct involvement in the process. Total bill $3,400 and the repair was beautiful. It was an extremely easy process other than the remoteness of the body shop from where I live.


@unplggdd on Instagram
Nov 17, 2014
West Palm Beach, FL
If you have a USAA approved shop then you're golden. It'll be no issue because the shop has agreed to work at USAA approved rates. This is the same as you going in network or out of network with your health insurance.

My issue with them was not approving the actual work that was needed, it was with paying the labor rates at which the work was done at since this shop would not agree to work at the going hourly rate USAA offered. Along with being Tesla certified, they are a certified Bentley, Lambo, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, etc... body shop and believe their work deserves a higher hourly rate. I agree.

If I had other local options for a Tesla certified shop I would've looked elsewhere but they were the only certified shop in town (at the time this occurred).

Therefore, I had no option. This is not top-secret info. The adjuster warned me before he even looked at the car that I would be facing this issue. So my argument is they set the rate of my insurance based on where I live. They know the only body shop in Palm Beach is this shop. I would assume they would set my rate accordingly. Then I would assume that I could take it to this shop without wasting hours debating with adjusters and managers on paying the bill. Sadly, none of those logical assumptions were correct. We have another shop now that I believe is USAA approved so it'll no longer be an issue (I hope).
Just wondering what experiences people have had. The local authorized Tesla body shop is not on the list of approved shops for USAA so I was concerned.[/QUOTE said:
Yes. My neighbor crashed into the rear of my new MS last year. Tesla recommended their new at the time Tesla body shop. USAA offered to recommend their approved body shops. I elected to use the Tesla body shop. USAA sent their adjuster to the Tesla body shop to review the damage on site. Tesla repaired, and the full USAA claim was paid no problems. This was in CA.


Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
I have had USAA insurance for more than 50 years (you read that right) since my time in the Navy. Generally, they have been good, but not perfect.
A story -- Once many years ago, I had an accident with a Mercedes Benz Diesel that disabled the car so it had to be towed. The local cops had it towed by "their duty towing company" (a big issue for me, but for another day), who had a body shop. It was a dinky little shop. As I recall, USAA would not pay accumulated storage or the cost of moving it, if I insisted on doing the work elsewhere. I was not well off financially at the time, so I relented and had the shop do the work. The body work was more or less acceptable (the car was old and I was not too fussy), but there had also been some mechanical damage. One of the damaged components was the engine-driven vacuum pump that powered the brakes. (Mercedes Diesels then, and maybe still today, produce insufficient engine vacuum to operate power brakes, so an auxiliary pump is needed to supply vacuum to the brake booster.) The body shop had no mechanic of their own, but "knew someone" who could fix the mechanical stuff. They called, said the car was ready, and I went to pick it up. Pulling out of the shop, I tried to stop when I reached the end of their long driveway, but discovered I had essentially no brakes! I barely manged to stop using foot power alone. Apparently the "mechanic" they used either never realized the vacuum booster was damaged, or had no clue what it did or how to fix it.

So, the lesson there was, body work might not be the only stuff damaged, and you are well advised to be sure the damage to mechanical and electrical systems is addressed by someone who knows the car. A Mercedes Diesel with a mechanical vacuum booster pump was probably even more common than a Tesla is today.
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