Getting an estimate for your auto body repair can be a hassle, especially if you don’t know where to go and who to trust. If you are shopping around and making your decision based on a comparison of estimates prices, you’ll probably find some significant variances between quotes. One estimate might even be significantly higher than the rest and have a lot more parts and “lines” on it. We get this response sometimes from customers who are shopping auto body repair here in Southern, New Jersey. Most customers assume that the highest estimate is just another example of a body shop trying to rip them off. But surprisingly, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In the auto body repair industry, an estimate is often just a starting point for the work that has to be done. This is different than the actual “repair plan,” which is an itemized list of things that the technicians will need to do to repair your car. The repair plan will be created after your vehicle is disassembled and they get a real look at all the damages. The good shops will research at the time of the estimate.
Some shops are better at estimating from initial inspection than others. And if your insurance company insists on a photo estimate, it will typically result in a series of additional bills called “supplements.” This is because it is challenging to get an accurate quote from just two or three photos.
We always find it interesting when people complain about an in-depth estimate and claim that they are being ripped off, especially since it is the insurance company who is ultimately paying the repair bill.
The highest estimate is usually the most thorough and accurate.
The reality is, you want to use the company that has the most lines on it, which is often the most expensive. Why is that? The company with the most precise estimate is the one who truly knows what it takes to repair your vehicle to factory specifications step by step. The shop with the most lines on the estimate has done the homework ahead of time, has researched repair procedures for your vehicle, and has mapped out everything your car will need to be brought back to a pre-loss condition.
Keep in mind this is not the same as getting an estimate to redo your kitchen. While there may be multiple ways to remodel a kitchen all with varying prices, there is only one way to fix a car safely.
The highest estimate will be the fastest repair.
When a body shop writes a lowball estimate, they know there will be supplements that will need to be written and approved by the insurance company. Each time the shop finds additional damages, they need to document those needs, write a supplement, inform the insurance company. Then, an insurance adjuster needs to return to the shop to inspect the newly discovered damages and approve the supplement. This can sometimes happen multiple times, and each time a supplement is needed, repairs are put on hold until that supplement is approved. This approval process will add additional days to the repair.
By contrast, the thorough estimate will require few (if any) visits by the adjuster once the repair is approved. All the parts and materials can be ordered at one time, and the car can enter the repair process with nothing left to hold up the repairs. This can often save a few days that the other shops would need to perform the same repair.
The highest estimate will often be the better repair.
The body shop who took the time to research the repair procedure has also estimated all the parts, materials, and most importantly, the time required to perform a proper repair. This is the shop that knows how to fix your car the right way and will not cut any corners.
So, if you need collision repair in Southern New Jersey and you’re reviewing collision repair estimates, ask yourself who you would instead perform the repair: the one with the accurate estimate who can knock out the repair start to finish? Or the one with the cheap estimate who will need to stop several times and await supplements? Keep in mind, that you will typically only ever have to pay the same deductible for both types of repair.
We at Autotech Collision Service know that repair estimates can be confusing and even scary numbers. We’ve been serving Southern New Jersey for over 30 years. We’ll be sure to work with you step-by-step and your insurance provider to ensure your auto repair process is a simple, smooth transaction. Not to mention, you’ll get your car back looking and working good as new!