Should I get an Estimate before Filing a Car Insurance Claim?

Filing an insurance claim after a car accident

Most customers I speak to at our Scottsdale collision center have not experienced a car accident for a long time. This is a good thing! But, just like everything else the collision repair and car insurance industry changes and evolves. Therefore the process may be different than the last time you dealt with a car insurance claim or a collision repair. Below I will try to answer frequent customer questions I am asked while working at our collision center in Scottsdale. 


Should I get a collision repair estimate first or make an insurance claim? Many times customers will stop in for a free estimate, simply to gather information. Once they have an idea of the auto body repair cost they can decide if filing a claim or paying out of pocket is the right choice for their situation.


Making an insurance claimShould I make an insurance claim? Keep in mind auto parts are expensive so if it looks like vehicle panels, lights, etc are beyond repair this will drive up the cost. Consider what year, make and model vehicle you drive. If you have a newer high end brand like Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover etc parts will be very pricey. It is not uncommon to see a headlight or tail light priced over $1,000. In a case like this, an insurance claim may be the way to go.


Can I pay out of pocket? Not all Scottsdale collision centers will accept customer pay repairs. Mostly, large nationwide chains only work with insurance claims. If you are paying out of pocket or are dealing with an insurance company they are not contracted with, you may have to call a few collision centers in Scottsdale to find the one that fits your needs.


How much is a minor collision repair? A good suggestion is to really look at the damage. Do not just zero in on “the dent.” What is to the left, the right? Are other panels scuffed? Is a light cracked or a molding damaged? All of these components will have to be addressed to fix your vehicle correctly.


Should I make a claim on my insurance or the at fault party’s insurance? Ideally, if it is not your fault you will want to reach out to the other party’s insurance company. In some cases, you may be forced to use your insurance policy even if the other party is at fault. For example, the other party’s limits of insurance may be too low and won’t be enough to repair your vehicle or perhaps they are uninsured. I have also seen cases where the other party’s insurance is not a quality company and non-responsive. In cases like these, customers often make a claim on their own insurance policy and let their insurance company start the subrogation process with the other insurance company.  

Paying insurance out of pocketIs it a better price if I pay out of pocket? Prices are the same at honest, professional collision repair shops. The cost of parts, materials and labor operations are the same. Scottsdale collision repair facilities that repair using industry or manufacturer repair procedures cannot skip steps to save a customer money. 


Why is the insurance estimate a lot lower than the Scottsdale collision center? There is usually quite a gap between insurance estimates and collision repair shop estimates. The most common reason is the insurance company is writing an estimate based off photos. The adjuster can only write for what he can see in the photo and insurance companies and collision repair shops know that an estimate based off photos is simply a starting point for the vehicle repair. Once the vehicle is disassembled the Scottsdale collision repair facility will contact the insurance company regarding the additional damage found. This is called a supplement.


Do collision repair centers inflate the price when billing an insurance company? If you have chosen a reputable Scottsdale collision center they will follow OEM (manufacturer) or industry repair procedures. There is a cost in the estimating data base for every labor operation, therefore if it is listed on the repair procedure, it is listed on the bill. The collision repair shop is liable for the auto body repair and the customer expects their vehicle fixed correctly, therefore there is only one way to proceed. 


Will my insurance rates increase if I make a claim? This is a good question to ask your insurance agent. Insurance companies, may take into account how long you have been with their company, how many claims you have made and the cost of each claim. I know that insurance companies value long term insureds and want to retain this customer base and their referrals.


What is the best insurance company? I will start by saying, bargain insurance can be a costly mistake. When a customer buys an insurance policy it is with the understanding that if a claim is made the vehicle will be repaired correctly with quality replacement parts. Some companies choose to use bad parts, deny certain labor operations and often will not return calls/emails from the customer or the Scottsdale collision repair shop. Before switching to a different company, ask friends, family or neighbors how they were treated during a recent collision repair claim experience.


Airpark Collision Center knows many customers are unfamiliar with collision repair and the insurance claim process and we are here to help! Choosing the wrong collision repair facility can cause you headaches down the road. Driver and passenger safety is priority with our master technicians and that means following industry or OEM repair procedures. Airpark Collision Center is a family owned facility that opened in 2006 with a focus on quality collision repair and excellent customer service. Please call us to schedule a free estimate or click here.

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