Most repair companies will tell you "free rock chip repairs" or "we bill your insurance directly". That is not completely accurate information they are giving you. Windshield Welding Systems used to offer direct billing to your insurance company if you had the proper coverage (comprehensive, full coverage) and your insurance company honored windshield repair as an alternative to replacement.
Approximately 13 years ago, large windshield replacement companies and other third part billing companies (referral networks) contacted insurance companies. They sold the insurance companies on the idea of handling their autoglass claims which would "save the insurance company money by reducing their claims department staffing".
In actuallity what has happened is this, the networks are a third party billing company, a dispatching angency if you will. Many of these referral networks sub-contract with companies like Windshield Welding Systems to handle the actual repairs. In order to become part of these networks, the repair company must cut their prices and still be expected to offer high qaulity repairs.
The networks turns around and marks up the price charged to them by the sub-contractor, some cases by as much as $100.00, then charges your insurance company. This is not saving the insurance company nor the policy holders money. In many cases, Windhsield Welding Systems has been called out to "re-repair" rock chips that were done improperly by low dollar sub-contractors.
We used to be on the networks until we found out one networks in particular was charging the insurance company upwards of $186.00 for a single rock chip repair but only paying the sub-contractor $50.00 or $60.00. On top of the lower price, the network charged a processing fee to the sub-contracting companies.
For this reason, it is the policy of Windshield Welding Systems to collect payment upfront from their clients, mark the invoice clearly as "Client Paid in Full". This will permit you to contact your insurance agent directly to file for a possible 100% refund for the price you paid for the repair. In the long run, your repair ends up being free afterall.
Next time you are talking to your insurance agent, ask them if their company uses a thrid party billing company "network" for their autoglass repair and replacement claims. Then ask them if you have the choice of who you call to perform your rock chip repair. When you talk with the network to make your claim, it has been our experience, they will try to sway (strong arm you) into using some company on their network.
Swaying clients is against the law. They will use wording like "that company is not on our preferred list. We cannot guarantee the work they perform". Well, truth be told, they are not giving the guarantee in the first place, it is the responsibility of each repair company to handle the guarantee for their repair. Second, the most of the time the guarantee offered by the "network" states "should the repair fail, the amount paid for the repair will be put towards a replacement if you use the same company that performed the repair".
Interesting enough, there are two "networks" that are also windshield replacement companies. That's right, you guessed it. Talk about bait and switch. It's no wonder shops like Windshield Welding Systems would only get 2 or 3 referral calls per month. No wonder the guarantee was "if the repair fails, we will put the price of the repair towards a new windshield if you use the same company that performed the repair that failed".