You’ve just had a car accident and you have taken some time to absorb what has happened. Now, is the time to deal with your car insurance company. You have an estimate, but the insurance estimate is lower than the body shop estimate. What can you do now?
When you are in an accident, it’s commonplace to get an estimate from your vehicle insurance company. These estimates from the car insurance company should not be treated as a final or a complete cost. The insurance company has to pay a reasonable cost to the body shop, based upon your choice to fix your vehicle – and restore it to the condition it was in- before the accident.
Why Does My Body Shop Estimate Change?
Once you receive your initial estimate to fix your car, your vehicle is assembled and not all the damage that affected your vehicle is not always able to be seen. When the car is taken apart or disassembled and all the damage can be adequately identified, you can be rest assured that the cost to fix your car will change. You may also find that the parts change in time. Many times, the prices of the parts from a data base that the body shop uses- will not match the price the parts supplier gives out. All of this affects the price of fixing your car. If there are any increases in prices, those increases should be covered by your car insurance company.
Am I Obligated To Use the Body Shop My Car Insurance Company Recommends To Me?
The short and simple answer to that question is “no you don’t.” Many times, car insurance companies have a partnership as well as a contract with several auto body repair shops for specific negotiated rates so that their costs can be lowered. The discount to the body shop is generally about 10% or a bit lower. However, the real savings that a car insurance company receives- comes in through the efforts that the claims adjuster uses in adjusting the car accident claim. Since the body shop is coached and trained to write for the insurance company, both the insurance approved body shop and insurance company will be working in unison. Both the shop and the insurance company share the same network of car insurance data and information. The labor that is lowered for both the body shop and the insurance company make the discount for both the shop and the insurance company a “win-win” situation.
Tell Me More About The Insurance Company’s Preferred Body Shop
When it comes to the car insurance company’s preferred body shop, vehicles are often repaired faster. This is due to the partnership that the car insurance company has with the body shop. The car shop doesn’t have to wait to receive authorization- if additional damage to the car is found- or there are other changes.
Thanks to the quick electronic visibility into everything that’s going on as well as the training, the car insurance company is able to keep an “eagle eye” on the repair of cars, without delays or hiccups. This situation and setup are in direct contrast to a body shop that is not in the same network as the insurance company. There is a down side within a car insurance preferred body repair shop: even though you’re the customer, the insurance company will tend to send lots of work to the body shop- and they have lots of influence with the collision shop. Generally, it’s clear what the car needs and there’s little to no conflict of interest. You as the car owner and the accident victim have to decide if you will have your car repaired at an insurance- approved body shop or not.
What If The Repairs Are More Than The Estimate?
In some instances, a body shop can charge you a little more than the amount on the estimate. So, if you received a written estimate, the body shop can charge you up to 10% more than the estimate indicates. For example, if you have an estimate that was for $2,000, the final repair bill could be up to $2,100, but no more than that figure.
How Can I Get a Vehicle Repair Estimate After a Car Accident?
After you get into an accident, you want to receive a trustworthy repair estimate (or two or three) so that you have a good platform to work from. So, where and how should you begin? Check out some ways you can receive a quality estimate for car damage after your car accident.
Obtain A Quality Estimate- Not a Fast or An Easy One
After a car accident, you want to take the time to seek estimates for repairing your car’s damage or any other damage that resulted in the accident. You want to go to shops that are qualified and thorough when it comes to assessing your vehicle’s damage. Additionally, you want to ensure that the estimate quoted will be an amount sufficient for the repairs. Hold that shop to the highest standards. Furthermore, if you had a piece of company or business equipment damaged, in addition to your car, get a sound estimate from a facility that is a stable factory-authorized repair entity. You don’t want to get the easiest estimate – because you may find that the amount quoted is not going to be enough to cover the fixes you eventually have done at a quality body shop.
Stay On Top Of Your Insurance Company and Don’t Allow Them To Delay The Process
After your accident, do not allow your car insurance company’s estimates or inspections to delay repairs needlessly. If the insurance company doesn’t inspect the car within a week or so after the car accident, and you have given the car insurer an adequate opportunity to do so, then call them and ask what the hold up is. The main strategy here is to get the repairs to your car and property done and then demand you receive reimbursement from the car insurance company.
If you get your car repaired at the shop that offered you the highest estimate, the car insurance company may agree to reimburse you only for a lower cost. Be aware that receiving car repairs before you agree on an amount for those repairs can remove some of the incentives for the insurance company to settle fast. Once you get your car back, the car insurance company no longer has to pay for you to get a rental car- as an example.
Watch Out For The Low- Ball Estimates!
Is there a third-party insurance adjuster or one from the other driver's insurance company wanting to “wheel and deal” with you? Is that third party taking you that their company has a great repair shop that will fix your car at a substantially lower rate- lower than estimate you received? Tread with caution. Many times, lots of car insurance companies have “sweet deals” and partnerships with local body shops in your area- that do “cut-rate” body repair jobs for the car insurance company. Those “cut rate” jobs are in exchange for tons of referrals. With this kind of arrangement, you will never get a guarantee that your car was fully inspected and evaluated.
You can also never fully guarantee that the work done on your car as done from an experienced set of workers. You will never know if your car was expertly repaired. Always get your own estimates and inspections from accredited, experienced and independent body repair shops. Should you find that the independent estimates are a tad bit higher than the one car insurance company estimate, then you can probably count on the car insurance company’s estimate being the bad one. Repairs should be made only by a shop that’s’ chosen by the accident victim/car owner- regardless of how much cash the car owner gets in settlement.
Does Insurance Send Check To Me Or Body Shop?
Many car insurance companies will not send you the claim check. They may have regulations place that state they have to send the check directly to the car repair shop. This ensures that the money is being used to repair the car, instead of for other purposes. During your car claim process, your insurer may give you the option to either choose one of their in-network or preferred repair shops or you having the option of picking your own shop. Keep in mind that your car insurance company may make it a bit more difficult for you to decide on your own repair shop. You may have to “jump though some hoops”- such as getting numerous appraisals. So, you may find a more streamlined process of going with one body shop that is in the network of your car insurance company.
In the end, the objective of a car insurance company is to make money off of every policy holder. As a car owner or an accident victim, it’s important that you know your rights and ask questions when aspects of your claim don’t make sense. You want to stay on top of your insurance company and discuss issues when you just don’t feel easy about how your accident claim is evolving.
Trust your gut. Ask for help and investigate why the insurance estimate is lower than body shop. You owe it to yourself to get sound advice, answers and a good estimate on your damaged car. Are you ready to sell your damaged car and forget the hassles a car insurance company may provide? Click here now!