Collision Repair, What Do I Need to Know?

Statistics show that most drivers are involved in a collision every seven to ten years. The rare occurrence of accidents causes drivers to be unfamiliar with the insurance claims or auto body repair process. Making a claim or taking your vehicle in for collision repair doesn’t have to be stressful. It helps to know what to expect and how to avoid some common mistakes.

What Should I do First?Woman thinking of what to do first after auto collision

  1. Call the insurance company you believe will be paying for the collision repair. If you believe the accident is not your fault don’t call your insurance company (unless you absolutely have no choice). The purpose of the call is to make a claim. The representative will ask you details about the accident and most likely record your statement. Your objective is to obtain a claim number.
  2. Once, you have a claim number you will have to wait for the insurance company to accept liability. Liability is usually not determined until they have the other driver’s statement.
  3. Next, you will hear from the insurance adjuster. If they have accepted liability, they will try to steer you to one of their “preferred” auto body shops. At this point, I recommend doing some research. Insurance representatives are trained to hard steer you to one of their direct repair (preferred) shops, they will try to scare you saying that they will not warranty the repair if you choose another auto body shop. It is your vehicle and your right to choose which shop will make the repair. A reputable collision repair facility stands behind their work and has a history of good business practices. Many times you can find the warranty right on the auto body shop’s website. Online reputations are also an indicator of quality work and customer service.

What about the Estimate?

Photo of a man estimating the cost of a car repair

  • It’s a good idea to visit the auto body shop for an estimate before you drop off your vehicle. This will allow you to speak with the estimator and see what type of cars are in for collision repair. While you are at the facility take notice whether the shop is clean and determine whether you feel comfortable leaving your vehicle for repairs at this establishment.
  • Sometimes, the insurance company will also write an estimate and it will be much lower than the collision repair facility’s estimate. This is typical, especially if the damage is written from photos. Adjusters can only write what they can see, they have no idea what is damaged under exterior panels and if there is damage to mechanical components or any onboard technology.
  • Once your vehicle is in the auto body shop, the technician will work off of the insurance company’s estimate. When damage is found that is not listed on your insurance estimate, the collision repair facility will contact your adjuster and provide evidence to support the additional repair or needed replacement part. This process is called a supplement.

What’s a Supplement?

A supplement is a needed repair that was not listed on the first estimate. When additional damage is found the auto body repair facility must wait for approval from the insurance company to proceed. This could delay repairs a few days. Smaller insurance companies often take longer to respond and often use third-party adjusters. Rest assured the collision repair center is on your side. The auto body shop wants to make the correct repairs and return the car to you as soon as possible. Once approved, work is continued and supplement payment is sent directly to the collision repair facility.

What Order is the Work Completed in?

Auto Body Repair Checklist

  1. Pre-scan the vehicle. This technology scan provides information that may be relevant to the collision repair.
  2. Disassembly: this process allows the technician to remove all the damaged parts from the vehicle. He will inspect for additional damage below the exterior panels or damage that is missed on the original estimate.
  3. Bodywork begins. Often times, parts are repaired off the vehicle.
  4. Repaired parts move to the refinish (paint) department.
  5. Parts are returned to the auto body technician for reassembly.
  6. Vehicle is often hand washed and interior is wiped down and vacuumed.
  7. Quality control. This involves post scanning, checking quality of work and the test drive.
  8. Customer is called to pick up vehicle.

When is my Car Going to be Ready?

Collision repair centers will give you an estimated completion date. It is estimated and not guaranteed for several reasons:

What if:

A wrong part or a broken part is delivered?

A supplement is needed?

What if the scan or the test drive indicates additional repair is needed?

Again, a reputable collision repair facility’s top priority is quality work. This means your vehicle should look and operate as it did prior to the collision. Today’s auto body repair is more than repairing dents and welding on parts. Multiple onboard computers require a comprehensive collision repair.

Airpark Collision Center has earned multiple OEM certifications and is I-Car Gold certified. Only 10% of collision repair facilities in the U.S. have earned this rigorous certification. Please stop in or click for a quick 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.