Understanding Auto Body Repairs
If you are involved in an accident where you are not at fault & know who is responsible for the damages, start by getting as many estimates as you feel comfortable with. Three or four should be plenty. If you have a shop you have dealt with in the past or want to use through a recommendation that is your choice although you should still have more than one estimate on hand. With the help of your repair body shop rep make sure you understand what repair options are best for your vehicle. If you are finding there are major differences from estimate to estimate then you must do some homework. You may find that there is one body shop rep that appeared to be quite knowledgeable & took their time to explain the estimate & options to you. Whomever you felt most comfortable with, go back to see them with all your estimates & have them explain the differences. That person should be happy to point out why there are cost differences so you understand fully before you make your choice of where you will have your car repaired. Keep in mind that it is YOUR choice of where your car will be repaired & not the person who hit your car. If your estimate is fair & only has the damage cost for related items then you are not asking for anything you are not entitled to. You have the right to have your car put back to its pre-accident condition whether through insurance or a private party.
Also, consider the time your car will be out of service. Have your days to repair noted on the estimate so the other party can be prepared to pay for a rental car while yours is in the shop. Ask your body shop rep if they offer to include the rental at a cost in your estimate with full insurance coverage so all your repair costs are together as a package. Some shops may even have rental on sight with a reputable rental company making your situation much easier to deal with.
Lastly, ask your shop if they will take care of allowing the third party to pay them directly. If so this will make it very convenient for you as it will now be a one-stop-shop with all areas covered. All you then have to do is drop your car off, get in your rental & return when the job is complete.
When your estimate is provided your body shop rep should explain in detail what they have quoted to you. They should also advise if there is a likely chance hidden damage may be found or if costs may change. If so this should also be noted on the estimate. If the third party has any questions they could call directly to the repair shop in advance so they can explain directly. If the third party understands & agrees to go forward then proceed. If there are hidden damages then the body shop can make a call very soon at the beginning of the repairs to explain. Once all involved agree to continue then repairs should start again. If there are any concerns they must be dealt with at once or a call to your insurance should be made & a refund would go to the third party. Most times if agreed in advance there are no problems with third-party payment.