Understanding the Insurance Process for Auto Body Repairs in New Jersey

If you have been involved in a car accident in New Jersey, you might be wondering how to deal with the insurance process for auto body repairs. Depending on the extent of the damage, the type of insurance coverage, and the fault of the accident, the process can vary. However, there are some general steps and tips that can help you navigate the insurance process and get your car fixed as soon as possible.

Report the accident and file a claim

The first step after a car accident is to report it to the police and your insurance company. You should call 911 and request medical assistance if anyone is injured, and a police report if the damage exceeds $500. A police report can be a valuable piece of evidence for your claim, as it can document the facts and circumstances of the accident.

You should also contact your insurance company as soon as possible and file a claim. You will need to provide them with the details of the accident, such as the date, time, location, and cause of the accident, the information of the other driver and their insurance company, and the police report number. You should also take pictures of the damage to your car and the other car, and any other relevant evidence.

Choose an auto body shop and get an estimate

The next step is to choose an auto body shop and get an estimate for the repairs. In New Jersey, you have the right to choose the auto body shop of your choice, regardless of what your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company recommends. You should look for a reputable and professional auto body shop that is certified by well-known and trusted automotive industry organizations, such as AAA, I-CAR, or ASE. You should also look for an auto body shop that offers written warranties, free estimates, and 24/7 towing services.

Once you have chosen an auto body shop, you should take your car there and get an estimate for the repairs. The estimate should include the parts, labor, and materials needed to restore your car to its pre-accident condition. You should also ask the auto body shop how long it will take to complete the repairs, and what payment methods they accept.

Review the estimate and authorize the repairs

The third step is to review the estimate and authorize the repairs. You should compare the estimate with the coverage and deductible of your insurance policy, and see if there are any discrepancies or gaps. You should also check the type of parts that are used for the repairs, and whether they are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, aftermarket parts, or salvaged parts. OEM parts are the best option, as they are made by the same manufacturer as your car, and match its quality and specifications. However, some insurance companies may only cover aftermarket or salvaged parts, which are cheaper, but may not fit or function as well as OEM parts.

If you agree with the estimate and the type of parts, you can authorize the repairs and sign a repair authorization form. This will allow the auto body shop to start working on your car and order the necessary parts. If you disagree with the estimate or the type of parts, you can negotiate with the insurance company or the auto body shop, or seek a second opinion from another auto body shop.

Pay for the repairs and pick up your car

The final step is to pay for the repairs and pick up your car. Depending on the fault of the accident and the type of insurance coverage, you may have to pay a deductible, a co-payment, or nothing at all. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of your pocket before the insurance company pays for the rest of the repairs. A co-payment is the percentage of the repair cost that you have to share with the insurance company. If you are not at fault for the accident, and you have collision or comprehensive coverage, you may not have to pay anything, as the other driver’s insurance company will cover the full cost of the repairs.

Once you have paid for the repairs, you can pick up your car from the auto body shop. You should inspect your car and make sure that the repairs are done properly and to your satisfaction. You should also get a copy of the final invoice and the warranty information from the auto body shop. You should keep these documents for your records and future reference.

As you can see, the insurance process for auto body repairs in New Jersey can be complex and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these steps and tips, you can get your car fixed quickly and efficiently, and get back on the road safely.

If you are looking for a reliable and experienced auto body shop in South Jersey, you should contact Elmers Auto Body. We are the trusted auto body shop in the area, with over 40 years of experience in the industry. We offer quality auto body repair services, including collision repair, dent removal, paintless dent repair, and more. We also offer free estimates, lifetime warranties, and 24/7 towing services.

At Elmers Auto Body, we care about your car as much as you do. That’s why we use the latest technology, equipment, and techniques to ensure your car’s body is in perfect shape. Whether you need a minor touch-up or a major overhaul, we can handle it. Call us today at (856) 218-0202 or visit our website to schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.


The Real Difference Between Auto Body Repair Estimates

The Real Difference Between Auto Body Repair Estimates

Auto body repair is never really an enjoyable process, but it’s an inescapable part of life. As long as you drive, there will occasionally be a need to repair your vehicle. And, of course, such repairs can sometimes be expensive. After a collision or other accident, you will surely be thinking about the monetary damages, and that’s why it is important to get an accurate estimate from the repair shop. However, getting such an accurate estimate can be difficult. There are very real differences between different kinds of estimates, so let’s try to clear up this misunderstanding.

The Two Kinds Of Estimates

First off, you need to know that there are two basic types of car repair estimates: The quick kind and the thorough kind. The quick kind of estimate is normally done when your vehicle first arrives and is not intended to be authoritative. It’s just an initial assessment so that the shop can get an idea of what they will be repairing. This kind of estimate is usually done by visual inspection. In other words, someone will just walk around the car and look for any obvious problems.

A thorough estimate is something different entirely. First of all, this kind of assessment has to be done by a certified mechanic, as only they will have the knowledge to give an accurate estimate. Secondly, they won’t just look for obvious problems. Instead, they will look for all the problems that can be found. Needless to say, this sort of estimate takes a lot longer. However, it’s always going to be more accurate.

Understanding The Difference

When you get an initial cost estimate, you should understand that it won’t represent the final price. It’s a ballpark figure, so take it as such. Even if the initial assessment comes from a reliable source (like an adjuster from your insurance company), you should still take it with a grain of salt.

One reason for this lack of predictability comes from the repair shops themselves. Mechanics generally charge by the hour, and all of them will have different hourly rates. Your insurance adjuster certainly won’t have time to check the rates for every mechanic in the area, and a shop employee won’t have any reason to do that at all.

What Is A Supplemental Repair?

At some point, you might hear your mechanic or someone from the insurance company talking about the need for a supplemental repair. This term is kind of self-explanatory, as we are talking about extra repairs that need to be added after the initial assessment. When a repair shop determines that a vehicle requires more than the estimate could cover, they have to file a supplement claim with your insurance company.

While this claim is being processed, the repair job will (unfortunately) be put on hold. This is why collision repair can sometimes take a long time. The approval process can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more. It all depends on how fast your insurance company moves. In any case, supplemental repairs are one of the main things that can raise a repair bill beyond what was expected.

Should I Be Suspicious Of Cost Overruns?

If your repair bill turns out to be way higher than your initial estimate, you should probably be a little bit suspicious. However, don’t jump to conclusions because there is probably a good explanation. If you find yourself in this predicament, the best thing you can do is contact the shop directly and ask them to explain every part of the bill. There is no need to get rude or angry, just ask a lot of questions and get the information you need. They should be able to provide documentation for every repair. Also, in most cases, there will be no need to get too suspicious because everything will already have been investigated and approved by your insurance company.

Estimates Can Also Overestimate Your Damage

Obviously, not all vehicle damage can be detected visually. Other problems can be seen with the eye, but not until you remove one or more parts. When a quick initial estimate is done, the inspector will not be removing parts or anything of the sort. Instead, they will be taking guesses and making a cost estimate based on those guesses. If the inspector has overestimated the extent of the damage, those associated costs will not show up on the final bill. Thus, depending on the nature of your repair and the damage done, you might even end up with a bill that is lower than your initial estimate.

Call Elmer’s Auto Body Today!

Before you walk into a body shop for a repair estimate, it pays to know what you are doing. In this way, you will know what to expect and how to react. It is, of course, important to understand the difference between a quick estimate and a thorough estimate. A thorough estimate usually involves removing parts and checking many different things manually, which takes a lot longer than walking around the car and looking for signs of wear. In any case, you might now find yourself asking: “Where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” To answer that question, you need only call Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.

Auto Body Repair: How To Maintain Your Car’s Resale Value

Auto Body Repair: How To Maintain Your Car’s Resale Value

Did you know that, from the moment you drove your car off the lot, it lost about 20% of its value? Cars depreciate in value with each new mile on the engine. Worse, minor and major accidents alike can diminish their worth. Therefore, if you plan on selling or trading in your vehicle after a certain number of miles, you are going to need to know how to maintain your car’s resale value. Here are some tips to ensure that you get what your car is worth.


1. Stay On Top of Cleaning and Waxing

When was the last time you washed and waxed your vehicle? It’s hard to stay on top of your car’s exterior, especially during the winter months, but that is when a little elbow grease is most important.

Keeping the paintwork on your car in decent condition will impact the resale value later on. Therefore, you want to do whatever you can to keep the paint looking fresh. Discoloration and rusting are almost impossible to reverse, so be sure to wash and wax your vehicle throughout the year, every year. Also, do not forget to clean out the headlights with some polish and vacuum out the interior of your car. Be sure to remove any stains from the seats. Avoid smoking in the vehicle, as well.

Stay On Top of Cleaning and Waxing

2. Fix Damages With Quality Parts

If you have had an accident, then you are going to end up doing one of two things: either wait for the money from your auto insurance company to cover it or pay for the repairs out of your own wallet. Either way, you may want to cut the cost by purchasing aftermarket or cheaper used parts. Understandably, you want to get back on the road again, but choosing parts that are of poor quality will only hurt you in the long run.

Low-quality parts not only impact the performance and longevity of the car but also resale value. If you instead visit a respectable auto body repair shop like Elmer’s Auto Body that only uses OEM parts, you can potentially save the resale value and even get more for your car when you sell or trade it in.


3. Watch the Mileage

Consider how often you need to use your car. Unless you are in a big city, you may need your vehicle to take you everywhere. For most Americans, the odometer can run away from you. But see, here is the problem: The more miles on your vehicle, the less it is worth. On average, Americans add an extra 12,000 to 15,000 miles to their odometer each year, while 20,000 miles or more is heavy use. After 100,000 miles are racked up, the value of your vehicle will plummet. 200,000 miles? The value decreases even more. So if you want to sell your vehicle in the future, you may want to reconsider that tour across the states.


4. Upgrade Your Car After an Accident

If you had an accident and are worried about the blow to resale value, why not make your car like new? Keeping the car in working order with OEM parts works, but you can further boost the value with specific upgrades. Speak to your trusted automotive technician to see what they recommend or do some independent research.

Here is an example of some upgrades you can make to increase the resale value of your car, even after a collision:

  • Rear-view or reverse camera
  • Blind spot alert system
  • High quality tires

Why are these important? Because more modern cars have these as a standard feature. Older models don’t, but if you add them? Consider the value of your vehicle increased.

Rear-view cameras and blind spot alert systems are essential for safe driving. Not only does it make it easier to see other drivers in parking lots and on highways, but it can also save you from another accident before you sell your car.

Tips To Enhance Your Vehicle's Value After An Accident

5. Diminished Value Claim

Another method for regaining some value after an accident is a “diminished value claim.” What it does is allow you to recover the amount of market value that your car was worth before the accident by a percentage.

If an accident depreciates the value of your car, you may have a claim. You will need to know how much your car was worth before the accident, who is to be held liable for the accident (it cannot be you), the laws of your state, and also the insurance info of the other driver(s) involved.


Looking For Auto Body Repair?

When you are gearing up for a car resale, the last thing you want to do is worry about a diminished resale value. Whether you have been in a car accident or not, consider auto body repair. Keeping your car in good condition can prevent its value from dropping too rapidly. The automotive technicians at Elmer’s Auto Body can help you retain the value of your car, especially after accidents. We only use OEM parts to ensure your vehicle is restored to the condition it was prior to the collision. Get in touch with one of our Elmer’s Auto Body locations today to schedule an appointment.

Auto Body Repair And Insurance: What You Need To Know

Auto Body Repair And Insurance: What You Need To Know

Everyone who ever had to bring their car to an auto body repair shop understands how fast the costs can quickly spiral out of control. You can expect auto body repair to cost anywhere from $75 to $2,500. Luckily, provided you paid for car insurance, the insurance provider will often cover you. You do need to follow the process.


Take Action from the Start

Truthfully, insurance companies won’t always play fair, and you need to take action to make them play fair. Document everything right from the start. Right after the accident happens, assess the damage and snap photos as evidence. Granted, the police will take photos of their own, but you can never supply too much evidence for your case. The documentation will let you fight if you need to.

If you suffered a bad injury, call the ambulance and the police first. While waiting, exchange contact information with the other driver, but don’t worry if they refuse. You can grab this information from the police report. Let’s say that the other driver says that they don’t have car insurance. Tell the appropriate authorities since this isn’t legal in any of the 50 states.


Don’t Put off Medical Examinations

You must receive a medical examination as soon as possible if you think you suffered even a light injury. Don’t put off even a light one because this documentation will help you with insurance claims. If you wait, the other party’s insurance will claim that your injury came from another cause. That will stop you from receiving the most on your claim.

Minimizing Vehicle Depreciation After An Accident

Get the Repair Estimate

At Elmer’s Auto Body, we encounter situations where a customer will send in photos of the damage, or they might request a consultation over the phone. You may want to take this one step further. We encourage our customers to bring their car into the shop. In doing this, we can give them a more accurate and thorough estimate.

When someone sends us a photo, they might miss a key repair that we need to bill them for. For example, we see a common scenario where technicians might look under the vehicle only to discover extensive damage that you didn’t see. That will tack on extra costs to your repair bill. If you already sent the quote to the insurance company, you would need to adjust it.

When we talk about car repairs and auto body work, remember how insurance will calculate with depreciation in mind. In other words, an older car won’t receive the same payment as a newer one. That’s because your insurance company will assume that some parts of the car suffered wear and tear before the accident.

Important to Note: You don’t ever have to accept the quote from an insurance company blindly. In some cases, you would do well to hire a lawyer and fight it. If you think that an insurance company is trying to pay out the least amount possible, explain why you think the costs will be higher. If you can’t settle it that way, hire a lawyer with documentation to fight the case.


The Next Step: Blueprint of the Vehicle

Next, your insurance company will request blueprinting and teardown of the vehicle. During this process, they will tear down the parts to thoroughly examine them and ensure that you don’t require further repairs. The auto body repair shop will create a blueprint to understand the full picture of the car’s condition.


Repair of the Metal and the Frame

After a car accident, auto body technicians first focus on the frame to repair the car back to its condition from the accident. However, it will never return to its original condition and auto body repairs will lower the value. Once they repair the frame, they will work on the metal of the car. They will replace metal panels where needed and use special equipment to bring the car back to its original condition.


How Does the Payment Work?

Most auto body repair shops understand the process well, and they will work directly with your insurance company to repair the vehicle. In some cases, you may need to pay a deductible, but this depends on the terms and conditions of your policy and how much coverage you bought. Most shops will only accept payment after they complete the work. You also want to understand the warranty policy. Solid warranties will cover the workmanship and the refinishing for as long as you own the car.

You Choose the Auto Body Repair Shop

Don’t let an insurance company tell you that you can’t pick your own auto body repair shop. While they may keep a list of preferred repair shops, you can choose whatever auto body repair shop that you prefer. Don’t let them steer you on this because they most likely just want to keep their own expenses as low as possible without regard for your well-being. Choose a quality auto body repair shop.


Final Thoughts

Google, “Auto body repair shop near me,” to check for businesses that could help you with your auto body work. You could also speak with our experts here at Elmer’s Auto Body. We are a family-owned and operated business that has done business in South Jersey for over 70 years. We seek to make auto body service easy, convenient, and fast. Give us a call now at (856) 218-0202.

What Does Car Insurance Total Loss Mean?

What Does Car Insurance Total Loss Mean?

Anyone who experienced a car accident understands what happens when a car gets totaled. In cases where your car was totaled, you can’t repair it without the costs being more than it’s worth. It costs more to repair than the actual value of the car (ACV). Whenever this happens it makes more sense for the insurance company to total the car and give you the money to buy a new car. Just remember that you need either property damage liability or comprehensive or collision insurance on your policy.


When Will an Insurance Company Total the Car?

You see a few cases where the insurance company lists the car as a “total loss.” Not all total losses will be correct, and in some cases, an insurance agent made a mistake. This is where some people will buy salvaged vehicles that were once a total loss. However, this practice comes with risk if you don’t know what you’re doing.

They usually total the car if the damage amount meets the state’s total loss threshold. The total loss threshold speaks about how a damaged car has come close to the actual cash value. For example, if the repairs will cost 75 percent of the total, the insurance agent might choose to total the car. The threshold varies from one state to the next and ranges anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent. Colorado, for example, is 100 percent, whereas New Jersey is set at 80 percent.

Some states like California don’t use the total loss threshold. Instead, they calculate the total loss with the pre-accident value. This formula uses the repair costs plus the salvage value. It can’t exceed the value of the car.

They will also total the car when the repairs exceed the ACV of the car. Finally, in some cases, you can’t repair the car. Especially if the damage happened to the body of the car, it could make the vehicle unsafe to drive. Damage to the body often costs thousands of dollars to repair. Even if you repair them, these cars have a reputation as unreliable and dangerous.

Google, “auto body shop near me,” and you will see businesses that can help with damage to the body of the vehicle.


What Happens if They Declare Your Car a Total Loss

If an insurance company declares your car a total loss, it means that the cost of repairing the car is more than its current market value. The insurance company will pay you the market value of the car, which is usually the amount you would get if you sold the car in its damaged condition. You will then need to either buy a new car or find a way to repair the car yourself if you want to continue driving it.

First, you must agree to the car as a total loss, but in most cases, car owners don’t have a problem with doing this unless the insurance company hopes to give an unfair settlement. You have a right to reject the amount. Next, you will follow a series of steps to accept the car as a total loss. The faster you do this process, the smoother it will become.

First, remove your license plates and personal valuables from the vehicle. Next, you will take in the key and leave it with the claims adjuster. You need to send in spare keys with them as well. After you do this, the insurance agent will hand you some paperwork to fill out.

Those who lease their cars will need to contact their leasing company. The insurance company will reimburse the leasing company for the ACV of the car. This subtracts the possible deductibles. Anyone who didn’t lease their car will receive a check for the ACV of the car allowing them to buy a new car. In most cases, the insurance company will take control of the vehicle after they declare it as a total loss.


What if the Insurance Settlement is Unfair?

We encourage you to scrutinize your insurance company before you agree to an insurance settlement. In many cases, insurance companies will attempt to settle for the least amount of money possible. You have a right to negotiate or dispute the amount that they wish to give you. Until you accept an offer, you can’t move forward in the process, however.

When you dispute an insurance settlement, you might point out how the insurance adjuster didn’t account for modifications to the car, which makes the value go up.

Note: You must show evidence and documentation that you performed this work. That will prove the car is more valuable than the original offer. In some cases, the insurance company refuses to play fair. For those situations, you can take the case to a lawyer to fight for better compensation. If you have documentation and proof, you have a right to fight an unfair settlement.


How Do They Pay for a Total Loss?

The insurance company will reimburse you for the ACV, which uses the same metric when determining whether a car is a total loss. This metric accounts for the wear and tear and age of the vehicle. Multiple factors will influence how much they pay you. For those who drive leased vehicles, we recommend that they take out a gap insurance policy. This will cover them in the event that the car gets totaled. Otherwise, they could total the car, and they’d still be on the hook for monthly payments.


At Elmer’s Auto Body, we have seen this process play out over and over for over 70 years. We serve the community in South Jersey and have operated as a family-owned business for all of that time. We wish to make your life easier, more convenient, and faster. If you’d like to learn more, please call us at (856) 218-0202.

Minimizing Vehicle Depreciation After An Accident

Minimizing Vehicle Depreciation After An Accident

When your vehicle has been involved in an accident, there is little doubt that its value will be reduced. Any accident that is serious enough to report will surely reduce the value to some extent. Even if you have it repaired and the shop does a flawless job, there will still be some reduction in your vehicle’s overall value. That being said, there are ways to reduce and minimize the depreciation of your vehicle’s value.


Don’t Try To Cover It Up

You might be thinking that you can simply refrain from reporting the accident to your insurance company or any other relevant parties. If you are talking about a very minor accident, concealing the accident might be possible, but it is hardly ethical. Besides, any reputable repair shop will make a record of the repairs. That record will become part of a Carfax report that anyone can obtain, and that isn’t the only way for a potential buyer to uncover your deception. A repair shop that doesn’t make such reports is likely not going to do a good job, so you really shouldn’t try to cover up a significant accident.


Get The Damage Repaired

The most obvious way to reduce the vehicle’s value loss is to get the issue fixed. More importantly, it needs to be fixed correctly. That means restoring your car to its pre-collision state. This is another good reason to avoid low-level repair shops. Yes, they will probably charge you less, but they cannot deliver the same quality of work. A competent repair job will not completely eliminate your car’s loss of value, but it will certainly reduce those losses significantly.


Make Sure They Use OEM Parts

As we said, you have to get your vehicle restored to its original state. Doing otherwise will probably reduce your car’s value, and will probably void the warranty. That means no aftermarket parts or used parts. Once again, remember that those service records can be checked by anyone who cares enough to look them up. Thus, if you use substandard parts or the wrong parts, you will be shooting yourself in the foot. You might save a few bucks in the short term, but you will greatly decrease the value of your car.

OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” and it is a label that is placed on machine parts of many sorts. Those three letters indicate that the part has been made by the manufacturer of the vehicle or someone they have licensed to produce parts. The OEM designation basically just means that you are getting a new part that is identical to the original one.


Consider Filing A Diminished Value Claim

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you might be able to file a diminished value claim with your insurance company. This means that you will be compensated financially for your losses. So, let’s say your car was worth $8,000 before the accident, and then its value was reduced by half due to the damage. You would be able to recover that $4000 as a direct cash payment, but only if your claim is approved. So, even if you can’t necessarily stop your vehicle from depreciating in value, you can at least recoup your losses.


Every State Has Different Laws

There are laws that relate to these claims, and they vary from state to state. And so, the first thing you should do is look up the relevant laws for your state. This website might be a good place to begin. However, there are certain universal requirements. So, when should you file for a diminished value claim? Here are some things to consider:

  • If you were judged to be at fault, you will not be able to file the claim
  • Every state has a statute of limitations, and the claim must be filed within this period to be considered
  • If your vehicle was damaged by a random mishap like a falling tree branch, you probably won’t be approved
  • If your vehicle already had a lot of wear and tear, its value might be so low that the claim isn’t worth the trouble
  • If the other driver did not have car insurance, it could make you ineligible for the claim


Research And Documentation

If you want your claim to be approved, it pays to have as much knowledge and documentation as possible. You will definitely want pictures of your vehicle, showing its condition both before and after the accident. For the “before” pictures, use the most recent pictures of your vehicle that you can find. A receipt from the purchase of your car will also be helpful, and you should also have your service records handy. This is why you should always keep service records, by the way. The rules vary, so call your insurance company and ask about the types of documentation that they require.



Unless you plan to drive your car until the wheels fall off, resale value matters. If you want your vehicle to maintain a good resale value, it pays to follow all of these steps after an auto accident. It is also highly essential to choose the right shop, so ask yourself: “Where can I find the best auto body shop near me?” If you live in southern New Jersey or the surrounding areas, we can give you the correct answer. Just call Elmer’s Auto Body at (856) 218-0202.