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Getting a Repair Estimate After a Car Accident

Automobile accidents are a nearly inevitable part of auto ownership. Assuming that no one was injured in the accident, the largest hurdle that comes up in trying to return to normal following an accident is getting your vehicle repaired. It can take a while to get all of the details straight, when all you want is to be back on the road.

Besides the impatience to return to normalcy, the cost is a large frustration following an accident. The first way to assess cost, and who will be paying for what, is to assess who is at fault. If you caused the accident, or if you live in a no-fault auto insurance state, you will likely need to go through your own insurance company for assistance with paying for your auto repairs. Regardless of fault, you get to choose between working through your insurance company or working with your own mechanic.

There are pros and cons to using either your own insurance or the insurance of the at-fault driver. Using the liability policy of the at-fault driver’s insurance can help you avoid making a claim on your insurance, which could prevent an increase in your premium. That said, it could take weeks for the at-fault party’s provider to determine fault, and slow down your ability to get back on the road. Your own insurance company is likely to work faster, but you may have to pay a deductible upfront. Do not worry, though: as long as you are found to not be at fault, you are likely to be reimbursed for the cost of that deductible eventually.

How Many Estimates Should I Get For Car Accident Repairs?

Once you have chosen which route to take for your insurance options following a car accident, the next step will be getting an estimate for repair costs. The insurance agency will usually arrange to send an adjuster to analyze your car and write a report on the damage. Sometimes, instead of an adjuster, you will be asked to bring your vehicle to a preferred auto body shop to get estimates.

If the estimate to fix the auto in question is higher than the fair market value of the car, the adjuster will rule the vehicle “totaled,” and they will instead pay out the fair market value of your car so you can buy a replacement. You can negotiate the payout price, but you have to use examples of similar vehicles being sold within your direct geographical area.

Along with the adjuster and your insurance company’s preferred shop, it is important to get a second and third opinion. You can have your vehicle brought to a shop that is to your liking, and have additional estimates run that you can compare with the company’s assessment.

The sooner the adjuster has written their report, the sooner the company will write a check for your damages, so it is important to work quickly with your adjuster, the shop, and the company.

More Tips For Getting A Repair Estimate After A Car Accident

Tip One: Research All Of Your Options Thoroughly

Starting out on your auto repair estimate journey, make a list of collision repair shops to research. It is important to choose well-established collision repair shops with a history of customer satisfaction. Read reviews from car owners online, and then choose at least three shops to reach out to. When you reach out, be sure to request a detailed breakdown of the repairs included, and have the shop outline costs for parts and labor along with the breakdown. You can then compare the breakdowns line by line between each shop when making your decision, and use it as a reference later once you’ve chosen a shop to work with.

Tip Two: Take More Than Price Into Account When Choosing Who To Repair Your Automobile

Do not assume that just because a repair shop is pitching you a higher estimate than others means that the shop is overcharging for the fix. Estimates for collision repairs can vary greatly, and the price differences could speak to the quality of parts being used, or the labor itself.

Likewise, you should be wary if your insurance adjuster recommends a shop with a substantially lower estimate than others that you received. While less expensive for the insurer, the quality of parts and labor may be less, and you may not be happy with the end result.

Overall, you should make a line-by-line comparison of the estimates you receive, and use this comparison, along with reviews, to make an informed choice on who to choose to repair your vehicle.

Tip Three: Work Ahead Of Your Insurance Company If You Can

It can sometimes take more than a week for your insurance company to send an adjuster out to check on your automobile. You do not need to wait for your insurer to send an adjuster to assess the damage of your vehicle after an accident or collision before you begin shopping for repair estimates.

If you are in a hurry to return your vehicle to the road, you can pay for the repair yourself, and be reimbursed from your insurer later. Keep in mind, though, that it may be difficult to be reimbursed for the full amount that you paid after the work is completed, especially if you go with a higher estimate.

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