Is an estimate the total cost of repairs?

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EstimateConsumers sometimes think that the term estimate means a total cost of repairs. However for collision repair, the term estimate means a preliminary estimate of cost, based on a visual inspection of damage.

The trouble with that is, the fact that only the damage that is visible can be written into an estimate (by law, as we will discuss later). Without a complete disassembly of the damaged area, a total cost of repairs cannot be given.

Insurance companies know that estimates are given based on visual inspections and also know that once disassembly takes place there is a chance that unseen damage will be discovered and amended to the estimate.

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This is not the collision repair facility nickel-and-diming the consumer. That is how the collision repair industry operates as a whole due to laws and regulations specific to the industry. In fact it is ILLEGAL for a collision repair facility to write an estimate and include possible damages that cannot be seen.

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Other Industries have completely different rules and regulations. Take for example a remodeling contractor, they provide you with a BID to remodel your kitchen. Generally you will get a bid based on worst case scenario. The contractor will assess all of the things that MIGHT play a part in what they are about to embark upon. If they get to the job site and it’s easier than they bid, they pocket the difference. If it turns out to be more than they thought, they eat that shortage, or ask for more money.

Auto Body Estimate

Let’s explore more about unseen damage by talking about a vehicle door. The first visual inspection looks like it is repairable. However, when we disassemble it, we are then able to see that there is damage to a sound deadening pad or to the high steel intrusion beam, the beam that protects occupants from injury if later involved in a T-bone accident. This can only be added to an estimate after the disassembly and visual inspection takes place.

We are regularly asked to include those worst case scenarios (and sometimes criticized for not) in order for a customer to get a full idea of total cost of repairs up front. However, if we include something in the estimate for a part we THINK needs to be replaced, without VISUAL PROOF that it needs to be replaced, it is AGAINST THE LAW. That is called committing insurance fraud.

If you really want a complete cost of repairs, we can provide you with this, but only AFTER disassembly of your vehicle.

Dictionary.com Definition:
es·ti·mate – a statement of the approximate charge for work to be done, submitted by a person or business firm ready to undertake the work.

Estimates, are just that. An approximate total, based on the visual damage to a vehicle. There is simply NO WAY to see EVERY single thing that has been damaged on a visual inspection alone.

Crash Course Elite Collision Center Blog

Illegal Insurance Company Steering Practices

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Today I heard about a situation with a MAJOR insurance company (that I had previously respected) and wanted to make sure you knew some helpful things. Thankfully, our customer knew we were the best, and didn’t want to compromise their repairs OR safety by going with an insurance recommended shop. This poor customer had to hear their own insurance company try to steer them EIGHT different times, before they realized the customer knew what they were doing, and finally gave up.

Please know that “steering” (when an insurance company pushes you to do what you they want) is AGAINST the law. Yet COUNTLESS companies still do it. With phrases like, “if you choose Elite Collision, you MIGHT have out of pocket expenses.” Or “they aren’t an approved shop in our Network, so we won’t be able to warranty the work” or some narrative similar. They do their best to drive work to their approved shop.

Elite Auto Body - Steering

WHY? It’s actually pretty simple. They SAVE MONEY at the consumers expense.

The contracts that are signed between a body shop and the insurance company DO affect your repairs. In order for those body shops to keep their preferred status with those insurance companies, they have to meet standards set by the insurance company. Those standards include overall repair costs, repairing parts vs. replacing them, how many aftermarket parts are used, NOT doing costly pre/post repair scans to name a few. Which means that more aftermarket parts will be used as they are cheaper, instead of replacing parts, they will repair the damaged parts which is again cheaper, possibly no pre/post repair scans will be done. If you do not know how important pre/post repairs scans are when repairing vehicles, please read here.

Do you REALLY think that the insurance company had our customers best interest in mind???

Its Your Right To Choose

Two questions to ask an insurance company if they try to steer you:

  1. Do I have the right to take my car to a shop of MY CHOICE?
  2. Is steering me to your recommended shop against the law?

 
Please folks, see the insurance company for what it is. It is a for profit company. You have insurance to pay for the damage on your vehicle. The less they have to pay, the better for them.

Don’t let them sway you. Your safety matters!!!

We are a consumer advocate body shop. Your safety is our #1 priority! Give us a call, stop by and see it for yourself.

Crash Course Elite Collision Center Blog