After your car has been damaged in an accident, you may believe that you are required to get three or more estimates. Your insurance company may then require you to go to the shop that gives you the lowest estimate. Sometimes the auto body shop and the insurance company have worked out deals where they use cheaper products in order to save the insurance company money. The fact is, in New Jersey, you have the right to take your car to the shop you choose regardless of which offers the lowest price. There are situations when getting multiple estimates may be helpful and these tips can help you determine if it is necessary.
When to Get Multiple Estimates
If you don’t have a relationship with an auto body shop, getting more than one estimate is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there is no need to get three or four estimates in order to get an average cost to repair your car. In fact, getting too many estimates could delay getting your car repaired and will take up a significant amount of your time. One reason to get an additional estimate may be because the first estimate you got seems excessively high or extremely low. In that case, you may want to get what is essentially a second opinion.
What is an Estimate?
An estimate is simply a rough total of what the auto shop believes it will cost to fix your car without disassembling the vehicle completely. The best way to describe an estimate is as a “best guess.” Estimates are notoriously inaccurate at predicting the actual final cost. When you get more than one estimate, each shop uses a different method for determining the cost of repairs. One may provide a quote that covers fixing a damaged part while another may include total replacement of the part. In addition, the lowest estimate is not necessarily the best option as the shop may use inferior parts, may not take the steps to match paint properly or may cut corners to get the repair completed at the low price.
A good repair estimate should factor in the quality of the paint as well as good parts. It should include the number of hours it will take to get your car fixed right the first time. It should provide a general idea of what it will take to get your car back on the road. However, a technician cannot accurately predict the cost of a repair until they begin working on it. Additional damage could be discovered after they remove body panels and other damaged parts. At that time, they should contact you to let you know of any additional parts or labor that will be required. You can then notify your insurance company who may agree to the higher cost of the repair if the shop can demonstrate the additional costs are necessary.
Original Equipment Parts (OEM) are those that were used in your vehicle by the manufacturer. There are cases when a repair shop will have to use non-OEM parts. If your car is older, OEM parts may no longer be available and, in some cases, there is very little difference between OEM and non-OEM parts. In New Jersey, the repair shop must list non-OEM parts as part of the estimate. In addition, the non-OEM part must be sufficiently and permanently identified on the part. It must also be visible after the part is installed if at all possible. Non-OEM parts must be at least equal to OEM parts and must come with a warranty of reasonable duration and coverage.
Choosing the Right Shop
It may be tempting to simply take your car to a chain auto body repair recommended by the insurance company. Keep in mind that many insurance companies have negotiated lower prices with some of these shops who often use lower quality parts and cheaper paints in order to get your car fixed faster and at less cost. This boosts the bottom line of the insurance company but provides you with a repair that may be inferior to a local body shop.
When you bring your car into Elmer’s Auto Body for an estimate, we work as hard as possible to give you a repair cost that will be as close as possible to the final bill. We will inspect your car to be sure that when you leave our shop, you will be driving in the safest car possible. If your car has been damaged in a collision, schedule an appointment today with Elmer’s Auto Body by calling or filling out the easy online form.