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Non OEM Parts and Car Insurance

Non OEM parts and car insurance are related in important financial ways. Non OEM or aftermarket auto parts are regularly used by auto insurance companies to repair cars that have been damaged in accidents. But some consumers prefer OEM parts. This conflict can create some problems with a driver's auto insurance policy. There are certain things every driver should know and understand when it comes to non OEM parts and the ways they relate to car insurance coverage. Knowing where your auto insurer stands on OEM versus non OEM parts will make a difference for you if you ever get into an accident and need some substantial repairs.

Aftermarket Auto Parts Explained

Non OEM parts are simply auto parts not manufactured by the company that first built the car they were made for. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. If you get into an accident and your insurer covers the costs of repairs through your collision policy, it is not a given that the new parts installed on the car will be original manufacturer parts. In fact, in many cases, insurers use non OEM or aftermarket parts to save money.

After a car accident, your auto insurance provider is obligated by the terms of your insurance agreement to return your car to its original condition. However, your provider is not required to use original parts unless the language of the policy calls for them. In many cases, auto policies do not have any specific provisions for original manufacturer parts. So, insurance companies direct collision shops to use at least some aftermarket parts in many cases. Again, the main intent is to keep costs down both for the insurer and for the consumer.

The presence of aftermarket parts in the market has driven down the price of original manufacturer parts, savings consumers and insurers money over the long run. Non OEM aftermarket parts are made by a third party vendor, usually one completely unaffiliated with the original parts manufacturer. Standard auto insurance language sometimes calls for "functionally equivalent" parts, meaning they have to perform as well as the original, but do not necessarily have to be made by the same manufacturer as was the original.

When Customers Want Original Parts

If you want only original equipment manufacturer parts on your vehicle when it is repaired, tell your insurance company. Some companies do not have policies available stating that the covered vehicle is only to be repaired using original manufacturer parts, but others do. You can get one of these policies if the difference is important to you, either for resale or for other reasons. But realize that you will be paying more for your car insurance.

An alternative is to roll the dice with your current insurer and just keep your coverage as is. The advantage will obviously be lower rates for the time being. If you get into an accident you always have the right to request only OEM parts. Many car owners are not aware of this. Of course, there is a catch. If you insist on original manufacturer parts, your insurance company may be forced to comply, but they do not have to pay for the extra cost. That cost will likely be yours to eat: the difference in pricing between the original and aftermarket parts used to repair your vehicle. Before making any pronouncement of your burning desire to get your car repaired this way, at least get a quote on the price difference so you can decide if it's really worth paying for.

Original vs. Aftermarket Auto Parts

The issue of equivalence in quality between OEM and non OEM auto parts is somewhat up for debate. Some consumer groups and insurance associations endorse the use of aftermarket parts, saying they perform just as well as the originals while keeping insurance premiums lower for customers. Their explanation often involves the savings aftermarket parts manufacturers get to take advantage of in terms of research, advertising and development that the original parts manufacturers essentially do for them (and pay for as well). They point to this difference as the reason for the cheaper prices we see in aftermarket parts. But predictably enough, domestic auto manufacturers prefer original parts for repairs.

The fact that aftermarket parts are used at all by auto insurance companies may come as a bit of a surprise to some auto owners. But the main focus of the industry is on the financial side of things. As consumers, we have to appreciate that, because without this emphasis, we would be paying more for auto insurance. Still, some drivers are uneasy with aftermarket parts being used on their cars. Fortunately there are multiple solutions to this problem, so there is no need to fret. Auto insurance consumers can demand original parts.

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