Collision Repair Estimate Online

Collision repair estimates are available online from several Scottsdale auto body repair facilities and most insurance companies’ apps. Whether you obtain your estimate online, from an app or in person at a collision repair facility it is helpful to know a few things about your vehicle’s auto body repair estimate.

What is an estimate? The definition in Merriam-Webster online dictionary reads: “a rough or approximate calculation.”

Why isn’t an estimate exact? Estimates are written in an estimating database. They are truly an approximation of what to minimally expect. Here are a few examples why:

  • Part prices in the estimating databases are not automatically updated as soon as the manufacturer has an increase. That means your estimate may list a rear bumper for $375 but on your final bill it shows the current price the dealer/vendor charged to the auto body shop.
  • Estimates are written for visible damage. To guess or write what the estimator thinks “might” be damaged is dishonest. Be aware that when an exterior panel like a bumper is removed there may be damage underneath. What is underneath is generally protecting the structural integrity of the vehicle and cannot be ignored. Additional damage is called a supplement and is added to the original estimate. This will usually include additional labor and parts.
  • Many times when a vehicle is being reassembled a clip or molding breaks. Some of these parts are truly one-time use and usually can’t be installed a second time. Other times some of the small parts become brittle with age or from sun damage and simply crack. These items will be added to the estimate too. Again it would be dishonest to predict that something “might” break and put it on the original collision repair estimate in advance.

How long is an auto body estimate good for? I’m sure some Scottsdale auto body shops have different policies, but it is safe to say, the estimate will change if part prices have increased, I believe it is reasonable to think labor prices may have increased depending on the age of the estimate and if additional damage exists which is not listed on the original estimate.

Can I use the auto body shop’s estimate instead of the insurance company’s estimate? You can but this may cause problems for you. If the insurance company writes you an estimate, it is recommended that you immediately share it with the Scottsdale auto body shop. The estimator will find out anyway when they contact the insurance company for a supplement. The insurance company’s estimate may be cheaper, but it’s just a starting point. The collision repair facility must know what parts are approved and what is written to repair vs replace. If something doesn’t seem right or is missing, a reputable collision repair facility will go back to the insurance company and prove why something must be changed or added. Not following the expected procedure can slow down repairs or leave you owing money. Talk with your collision repair estimator, they will be happy to explain how the process works and get you back on the road as quick as possible.

Paying out of Pocket?
If your collision repair estimate reads $1,100.00 and you do not want to exceed your budget of $1,100.00 it is best to make an insurance claim (if possible). It is logical to expect an estimate increase for reasons mentioned earlier. A vehicle must be repaired correctly and to industry and manufacturer standards. A quality and reputable Scottsdale auto body facility will not compromise or omit mandatory repairs to save a customer money. The priority is to make the vehicle safe again so that it can protect passengers if another accident occurs. While aesthetics and cost are also important, passenger safety is the prime concern.

Can I switch to insurance after I agreed to paying out of pocket? Switching from self-pay to insurance can be a real mess for the customer. Here are the reasons why:

  • You may have agreed to the collision repair shop’s estimate including OEM parts, now if you switch to insurance they may say, “no, your policy only covers used or aftermarket parts.” In his case you will have to pay the difference out of pocket. Also, insurance companies may tell collision repair facilities which one of their “preferred” vendors to buy the parts from. In this case you may have to pay the difference in price from what their vendor charges to what the vendor the auto body shop ordered from.
  • If this isn’t enough reason to avoid making a switch, it will also slow down the collision repair. The moment you inform the collision repair shop you’d like to transfer to using insurance the auto body repair stops and is on hold until approval is given and repairs are allowed to continue.
  • Some insurance companies may not let you convert and simply tell you to pay out of pocket for the entire auto body repair and then reimburse you. You will have to collect all invoices, photos and other documentation from the auto body facility and submit to the insurance company all while hoping to be fully reimbursed in a timely manner.

Airpark Collision Center opened in 2006 and works with all insurance companies and customers paying out of pocket. Please click this link for an online estimate!


Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.

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