claims series: do's and don’ts of auto claim estimates

2017 11 02 Say Blogphoto Claimsseries Dosanddontsofestimates

So you got into an accident and are making your way through the claims process. If you're about to start the "get an estimate" phase, we've got some tips of what to and what not to do. Let's dive in!

  • DO make sure you're getting your estimate in a body shop instead of a service center. Even if the service center has the capacity to do the repair, their estimates tend to be much more expensive. You don't necessarily need to go for the cheapest option, but if an estimate is more than what your insurance company considers reasonable, you may be left paying the difference.
  • DO get multiple estimates. We know getting three or four different estimates can be tedious and time consuming, but the savings may be worth it. Consider labor costs alone: AAA reports in their approved network alone, body shop labor costs can range from $47 to $215 an hour! That means if one shop says they can do a repair in nine hours, but another says six, you're talking a potential $645 in savings!
  • DO choose a body shop you feel comfortable with. Insurance companies are used to working with multiple shops. Sure, they may have preferred ones, but it's ultimately up to you to decide who you trust enough with your vehicle.  
  • DO take pictures of your vehicle prior to any repairs. Having that extra documentation can come in handy when discussing repair options with your adjuster and act as proof if there become any disputes about the damage later on.
  • DO try to get every estimate in writing with detailed explanations of what exactly will be repaired, which parts will be used and how long it will take. Not only does it make it easier to compare different estimates, the written estimate can also act as a contract to hold the body shop accountable.
  • DO know the difference between aftermarket parts and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. Insurance companies and body shops may choose to use aftermarket parts (parts not made by your car's manufacturer) in order to cut costs. They may be just as high-quality as an OEM part, but not all aftermarket parts come with warranties. Be sure to discuss your options and risks with your adjuster.
  • DO review your insurance policy and understand what each coverage entails. You don't want to bring your vehicle in for a hail damage repair and realize you don't have Comprehensive coverage, or forget that Comprehensive coverage means you have to pay a deductible.
  • DON'T let the body shop start repairs until your adjuster signs off on them. If for some reason the insurance company didn't agree with the estimate, you may be stuck paying a lot more than anticipated.
  • DON'T be surprised or disheartened if extra damage is found during the repair process. Sometimes those things just happen. Your adjuster should be able to work with the body shop to figure out any additional payments.

Need to file a claim with Say? Call (800) 225-5729 or log into your MySay account and click "claims" in the top navigation.

Next in our Claims Series: Total Loss vs. Repairable Claim

Missed the first post in our series? Check out our answers to should I file an auto insurance claim

Posted November 2, 2017 in insurance know-how.