If you’ve ever been involved in an auto accident, one of the first questions you might ask is, “What will it cost to repair my vehicle?” This can be an intimidating question since most of us are not in the auto repair business and have no idea what it costs for parts, labor, or paint… Hopefully I can answer a few of your questions and give you a better understanding of how damages to your vehicle are estimated when you have a claim.
Once an accident happens and a claim is filed, you should speak with your claims adjuster. After you give your statement regarding the facts of the accident, and if there is coverage for the damage provided by your policy, the adjuster will generally either send out an appraiser to inspect your vehicle or have you go to a body shop to get an estimate prepared. While the appraiser is inspecting your vehicle they will take pictures of the entire vehicle as well as focusing in on the damaged areas to give the adjuster a better idea of what your vehicle looks like. The appraiser will check to see if there is any prior damage on your vehicle. The insurance company is only liable to pay for the damages caused by the claimed incident and not for any prior unrelated damage.
The main parts of an auto estimate are the vehicle details, an itemized list of parts and repairs needed, along with paint time, subtotals with tax, and the final estimate amount. On any given estimate, you may have auto body parts that need to be replaced, repaired, or removed and reinstalled. Removed and reinstalled means the appraiser is allotting for time to take certain parts off the vehicle to get to the area that is damaged and to reinstall them afterwards.
During the inspection, the appraiser will determine if any of the auto body parts needs to be replaced. Everything on the estimate of repairs has labor hours associated with it, whether it’s .25 labor hours, 2 labor hours, or 23 labor hours. A typical body shop will charge around $44-48 an hour for labor. The appraiser looks to compare part prices to ensure they are in line with guidelines your insurance carrier uses for vehicle repairs. Paint time is also usually comparable to the $44-48 an hour charge. Paint supplies are also charged on the estimate.
Once the estimate is generated, the subtotals are added up, taxes are included, and the final bill is summarized. This first estimate is exactly that, an initial or preliminary estimate. There is always the possibility that the shop may find additional damages down the road when the repairs are being completed. If this happens, the shop will submit another estimate, or a supplement, for the insurance company to review. As long as the damages are related to the accident, the insurance company will generally handle it directly with the body shop.
I hope this article provides some insight on how your estimate is generated and gives you an idea of what goes into your repair estimate. Please leave a comment or like this post if it has been helpful.