Auto body repair costs are an often unavoidable part of the car accident fallout. Dealing with car insurance complications makes the process even worse. A common inconvenience people face when trying to repair their vehicle is receiving an insurance estimate that is lower than their body shop’s quote. Luckily, knowing a little bit about the auto repair process can save you money, time, and frustration.
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What If the Insurance Estimate Is Lower than the Body Shop?
Imagine getting into a fender bender and relying on your insurance provider to cover costs. After evaluating the damage to your vehicle, your provider gives you a $1000 repair estimate. Along with the estimate, your insurer recommends a local repair shop. You take your car to the shop and speak to a technician who expects the repairs to exceed $2000.
What Should You Do Next?
Your first move should be a polite attempt at negotiation with the technician. If the technician stands firm on his repair cost prediction, try to get his shop to communicate directly with your insurer. There is a strong chance that your insurance company recommended his shop because they have it on a preferred list—staying on your provider’s list might be very important to the shop.
Do You Have to Use the Body Shop the Insurance Company Recommends?
If negotiations with the recommended shop fail, look elsewhere! You are not obligated to use the recommended body shop. Finding a trustworthy shop that will cost less is possible. Use online resources to scope out which shops to go to, get a couple of estimates, and make an informed decision.
What If the Repairs Cost More than the Insurance Payout?
You’ve negotiated, shopped around, and the repair costs will still exceed what your insurer is willing to pay out. Unfortunately, if your repair costs are more than the insurance payout, you’re responsible for excess charges. Unless you own your car outright, paying up or losing the car are probably your only options. If you own your car outright, you may get away with not repairing the vehicle, but taking this route makes retaining your insurance unlikely.
Body Shop Charging More than Estimated?
Locate the written estimate that they provided you. State law varies, but there are limits on how much a shop can go over their provided estimate without contacting the owner first—often 10% over the estimate. If your body shop exceeded the threshold and failed to contact you, you have grounds for a legal dispute.
If the repair shop exceeded their estimate within the bounds of state law, figure out what increased costs. After learning more about what increased costs, working with the shop to reduce expenses is often a worthwhile endeavor.
Getting one cost evaluation from your insurer and another higher assessment from a body shop is aggravating. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize or altogether avoid coming out of pocket for repair costs. Familiarizing yourself with the process, advocating for yourself, and understanding your particular situation are great ways to protect yourself from unfair treatment.