Reading the Estimate

Deciphering the Estimate

When you receive the collision damage estimate(s) from the shop and or insurance company, it will probably be fairly confusing if you try to read it. To make matters worse, if you get one estimate from the insurance company and one from the shop, they will probably be different.

There are several possible reasons for differences in the two estimates. Some insurance companies don’t allow their appraisers to include damage that they can’t see – even if through experience they know something is broken, they are not permitted to include it in their appraisal. If it doesn’t show in a picture, they can’t write for it.

Another very common reason for differences is omitted and/or overlooked items. Automobiles are very complex and most insurance appraisers are under pressure to examine several vehicles daily. On the other hand, the body shop appraiser usually tries to include all the damage at the beginning. Since the shop is not bound by the insurer’s rules of “visible damage”, the estimate generated by the collision center is usually more accurate. This is in the best interest of everyone involved because it allows for better parts ordering, resulting in fewer delays in the repair process for the shop, and a quicker return for the customer.

The best way to compare estimates is by going over them line by line. Generally, the more lines on an estimate, the more thorough it is.

Sometimes there is a considerable difference in parts prices. Insurers often write for “Like Kind and Quality” (LKQ) parts, Recycled parts, or “Aftermarket” (A/M) parts. “Recycled” parts are parts that are used. As long as these parts are in good condition, this is not a problem – after all, the parts on all vehicles on the road are actually used. “Aftermarket” parts are parts that are made by companies other than the original manufacturer of the automobile (Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan etc.). These parts, also sometimes referred to as “Quality Replacement Parts” (QRP), are generally inferior.

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